May 5, 2005

(Adelphi, MD) -- University of Maryland University College (UMUC) announced that President Gerald A. Heeger, the university's fourth president since its inception in 1947, will step down in August 2005, following a six-year tenure. Heeger, whose leadership oversaw the university's rise to become the nation's largest public university offering online programs, will assume the presidency of a new international educational initiative in Texas, Whitney International University, later this year.

Heeger's career in higher education has taken him around the globe, beginning in India and Pakistan, where he served a Fulbright-Hayes Senior Faculty Research Fellowship, studying the politics of South Asia. Heeger, whose service includes more than 30 years spent in both U.S. public and private universities, said that his decision to move again to the private sector was a difficult one.

"My experience at UMUC in Maryland and my work at both public and private higher education institutionsnotably the University of Virginia and New York University, respectivelyhas been most fulfilling," said Heeger, 62. "Throughout my career, I have recognized the growing demand for higher education worldwide. The need for educational collaborationspublic and privateat every level is exciting to me and I know UMUC will continue to be at the forefront of such partnerships that Whitney International University will establish."

During Heeger's tenure, UMUC's reputation as a "virtual university" has been recognized worldwide, while the university has continued to provide traditional, face-to-face instruction in classrooms throughout Maryland, northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, and overseas. Last year, UMUC students filled more than 125,000 "seats" in online courses, enrolling in more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs available completely online.


Because of UMUC's continuing growth, state lawmakers and educational leaders have called on the university to help respond to Maryland's capacity for a growing demand for higher education, particularly among adults in the workforce.

"With vision, innovation, and unwavering commitment, President Heeger has led University College's transformation into the country's leading provider of online education," said William E. Kirwan, chancellor, University System of Maryland. "Thanks to his exemplary leadership, University College is recognized as an invaluable asset statewide, nationwide, and worldwide. Moreover, the institution is well positioned for growth and to play a major role in helping the university system handle the burgeoning enrollment we anticipate during the next decade. While the USM community will miss President Heeger, we wish him great success in his new leadership position."

Clifford M. Kendall, chair of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents concurred. "On behalf of all my board colleagues, I thank President Heeger for his exceptional leadership of University College. He brought a high level of academic integrity and entrepreneurial spirit that helped to advance UMUC and the learning options it provides to nontraditional students."

Under Heeger's leadership, UMUC secured its reputation in online education, winning national and international acclaim. In 2001, the university received the first Sloan-Consortium award for institution-wide asynchronous online programming, and in 2004 won the International Council for Open and Distance Education's Prize of Excellence, the highest international honor granted in recognition of excellence in distance education. Because of UMUC's online expertise, the Maryland Higher Education Commission projects that by 2009, one in three students attending University System of Maryland institutions will be enrolled at UMUC.

The university is the world's leading provider of educational services to the U.S. military, and last year approximately 58,000 U.S. service members and their dependents enrolled in UMUC classes worldwide.

Heeger said that he is sad to leave UMUC but expects its legacy as a leading distance education provider worldwide to grow even stronger in years to come.


For a biography of Gerald A. Heeger, visit the UMUC Web site, www.umuc.edu/president.

UMUC Contact: Andrea C. Martino, APR

Phone: 301-985-7779

E-mail: amartino@umuc.edu