University Bids Farewell to Students,
UMUC graduates final class before closing its doors
after 55 years
Stars and Stripes European
— The University of Maryland's only overseas, two-year residential
campus graduated its last class of students on Saturday
night before closing its doors forever.
which provided a full-time college education for mostly
children of servicemembers stationed in Europe, ends 55
years of history in Germany when it closes on May 31.
Alumni and former
faculty members gathered at Mannheim's downtown art gallery
to honor the final class and bid farewell to a campus where
many students got a jump-start on their college education.
The evening was bittersweet for the 34 students dubbed the
Omega Graduating Class of 2005.
20, a graduate of Heidelberg American High School, said
it was strange to earn a degree and lose an alma mater in
“It's kind of
surreal — I guess that would be the word,” said Philmon,
who plans to attend college in Texas and pursue a journalism
University of Maryland-University College campus, which
offered students the chance to study at an American-run
school close to their families, is closing due to the planned
decrease of American military forces in Europe. Its history
dates to 1950, when the first co-ed, residential, full-time
college program for family members was established at McGraw
Kaserne in Munich.
a 1951 graduate who came up with the idea of creating the
program, is recognized as the “founding student” of the
Mannheim Campus. She explained its inception during Saturday's
As a military
dependent in Germany during the height of the Cold War,
she pleaded with Army officials for a college program fit
for family members. Schwan had recently graduated from high
school at the time, and the University of Maryland had started
offering nighttime college courses for soldiers.
“I got to thinking,
‘Hmm. If there are teachers that are coming here to teach
in the evening, why can't they teach for the dependents
of service personnel and have a full-time college here?'”
she said. “I thought it sounded like an absolutely perfect
solution to my problem, and I was sure there were other
dependents that were in the same situation as I was in.”
agreed and a university curriculum was designed for family
members. The program grew to a peak of 700 students. However,
the campus moved as the number of forces in Europe shifted.
The campus relocated to Augsberg's Reese Kaserne in 1992
and to Manheim's Turley Barracks in 1994.
the resident dean, has overseen most of the campus changes
through various administrative positions. Saturday's commencement
ceremony marked the end of her 30-plus years with the program.
it's very, very difficult … I'm just happy we ended on such
a high note tonight,” she said.
More than 22,000
students have attended the school's various campuses over
the years. Since the early 1990s, students have passed through
the campus of seven red brick buildings in Mannheim.
A final decision
has not been made as to what the U.S. military will do with
the buildings. But professor Diane Jones-Palm urged graduates,
faculty members and alumni to keep the school alive in their
“I hope you
will take a little bit of the Mannheim Campus home with
you and keep it alive,” she said before ending the ceremony.
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