Heeger named president of UM's University College

Political scientist to head continuing studies center

February 24, 1999|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,SUN STAFF

Gerald A. Heeger is the new president of the University of Maryland University College, the state's continuing education institution that enrolls more than 35,000 students worldwide.

Heeger, 56, was introduced to the school's staff at its College Park headquarters yesterday by University System of Maryland Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg. He was named to the post by the system's board of regents, replacing T. Benjamin Massey, who was president from 1978 until his retirement last year. Robert E. Meyers has been interim president.

"None of us decided when we were 5 years old that we wanted to go into continuing education," Heeger told the staff. "We've all gotten here by different paths. But we've stayed, held by the remarkable students we work with, the opportunity to contribute to their distinctive life stories."

A political scientist who specializes in south Asia, Heeger taught at the University of Virginia and Adelphi University. He was dean at the New School for Social Research before joining New York University as dean of its School of Continuing and Professional Studies, where he created NYUonline, a for-profit spinoff. He is expected to start at UMUC in August.

"This is a defining moment in the history of American higher education," he said. "What is happening now is much like what happened after World War II when the great research university came to the fore. I think we are at a new period. This is our era -- schools that are adult-focused, accessible, technologically adept and global in reach."

The report of the task force that recently studied the state's system of higher education made clear that UMUC is expected to be a profit center as it expands with the Internet-driven growth in distance learning.

"That doesn't bother me, it gives you the freedom to be innovative," Heeger said. "If that's the price you pay for that -- to test your ideas in the marketplace -- it's a price I'm prepared to pay."

Pub Date: 2/24/99

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