Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Public College Creates For-Profit Distance Ed Company

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Public College Creates For-Profit Distance Ed Company

Article excerpt

When traditional, nonprofit higher education institutions opt to provide distance education, they soon discover that such an enterprise requires institutional experiences and skills not normally found among campus administrators. Recognizing its limitations in this area, the University of Maryland-University College recently won approval to create a for-profit, marketing business to help develop and sell the school's online education offerings.

"The development of this company will enable us to break the traditional-thought mold for the way educational providers compete in a commercial setting," says Dr. Gerald A. Heeger, president of University of Maryland-University College. The arrangement, which was approved by the University of Maryland Board of Regents in early December, appears to be the first such one for a public university in the United States. A few major private universities in the country, including Temple University and New York University, have recently launched for-profit businesses to market continuing education online courses.

UMUC officials say the move is necessary because the institution is seeking to compete globally with its online education programs. The new company's name is UMUC OnLine.com Inc.

"Offering courses online is a highly competitive business," Heeger says.

In comparison to its private university counterparts, UMUC's move to strengthen its online marketing muscle is seen as one more closely aligned with its mission because of the institution's long history in providing distance education to overseas U.S. military personnel.

"The University of Maryland is widely recognized as a leading distance education provider. The university has a great reputation for its work with the [U.S] Department of Defense," says Mark S. Hall, co-founder and CEO of Ed-X.com, an international marketing firm that assists organizations seeking to market their online education programs.

In addition to educating overseas military employees, UMUC is the only one of 11 degree-granting institutions in the University of Maryland system that specializes in providing educational opportunities for working professionals in Maryland. …

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