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SCHOOL'S FOCUS IS THE MILITARY
UMUC opens North Stafford campus

 UMUC has overseas campuses geared to U.S. military personnel. Many, like Air Force Staff Sgt. Fred R. Thomas, do their homework wherever and whenever they can find a place.
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Date published: 9/27/2012

BY BILL FREEHLING

The University of Maryland University College's new North Stafford campus is something of an experiment for the institution.

The university's typical model has been to open offices at military bases around the U.S. There, prospective students can learn about the programs UMUC offers and then take the bulk of their courses online.

UMUC selected North Stafford for its first bricks-and-mortar U.S. campus other than the facilities it runs in Maryland. UMUC, which is affiliated with the University of Maryland system, also has physical campuses overseas around U.S. military installations. "University college" is a British term for schools that offer distance learning and adult education.

The UMUC facility at the Quantico Corporate Center off U.S. 1 in North Stafford will officially open to prospective students Monday. Classes will begin in January. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday in the 10,000-square-foot ground-level space that UMUC leases from defense contractor Patricio Enterprises Inc., which occupies about half the building.

The UMUC facility includes three classrooms, conference space, a lobby and a student lounge area. University officials expect that many of their local students will continue to take online courses, but understand that some people prefer the traditional classroom setting that can now be offered.

UMUC Acting President Javier Miyares said Wednesday that if the concept proves successful, the institution might open similar facilities around other military bases.

More than half of UMUC's roughly 92,000 students are in the U.S. military and are stationed all over the world. UMUC offers flexible course schedules that fit military members' lives. UMUC also caters to community college transfers, veterans and working professionals. Most of the classes offered locally will be at night.

The local campus will offer classes toward bachelor's and master's degrees in information technology, cyber and homeland security, and business administration. Its programs tend to be focused on workforce preparation.

Miyares said UMUC picked North Stafford for its pilot campus because of the large number of military locally, as well as its access to nearby corporations, the Quantico Marine Corps Base and Interstate 95. UMUC has signed agreements with Germanna Community College and Northern Virginia Community College that should make it easier for students with associate degrees to move into bachelor's degree programs.

UMUC isn't the only university with a presence at the QCC. Stafford--working with the University of Mary Washington, George Mason University and Germanna--recently opened the Stafford Technology and Research Center at Quantico in a small suite at the Silver Cos. development.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com