Westminster's Budapest Connection

January 06, 1994

For the past 127 years, Western Maryland College has been content to educate students on its picturesque campus in Westminster, but this year the private liberal-arts college will open a satellite campus overseas in Budapest. The new program represents an exciting initiative that may pay big dividends to Carroll County's lone private institution of higher learning.

As envisioned, Western Maryland College's program is designed to give Hungarians and other Eastern Europeans the opportunity to take college-level courses on free-market economics and Western-style business administration, along with a heavy load of liberal arts courses.

Hungarian students will start their college careers by spending two years in Budapest and then complete the program by studying for two years in Westminster. Although the program is in its infancy, Western Maryland College administrators expect that some of its own students will be able to go Budapest to study as well.

The first Hungarian students will be enrolling later this year, and Western Maryland College is hoping that the new program may attract as many as 50 students. Graduates from the program will not only have a bachelor's degree, they will get a first-hand understanding of America, its economic system and its people. They will also be well-prepared to navigate in the global economy and should be in demand, not only in Eastern European countries but by Western corporations as well.

Western Maryland is the first U.S. college or university to open a campus in Hungary. The Hungarians examined a number of other American higher-education institutions before deciding to become partners with Western Maryland College. The selection is testament to the quality of WMC's curriculum and the creativity of its president, Robert H. Chambers.

Small, private colleges have been struggling to maintain themselves during the past decade. As tuition has risen, the number of potential students has fallen. Western Maryland has weathered this trend and has been able to maintain its high level of quality.

Admittedly, while few Hungarian families can now afford the cost of an American college education, their numbers will increase as Eastern European economies begin to grow. By the end of this decade, Western Maryland may have alumni chapters in cities and towns far from Westminster's College Hill.

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