UMUC Administrators Win Awards for Innovation

Three University of Maryland University College (UMUC) administrators won Parchment Awards of Excellence for work they are doing to reinvent the college transcript and to provide service for students seeking to transfer into the university.

Joellen Shendy, associate vice provost and registrar, and Insiya Bream, assistant vice provost of registrar strategic operations, won awards for their work in transforming the UMUC transcript into a digital competency-based document that illustrates for graduate schools, prospective employers—and the students themselves—what students actually learned in their courses.

Andrea Broadnax, program management specialist, was awarded for her work in easing difficulties for transfer students by removing their burden of having to chase down transcripts from institutions they formerly attended.

UMUC President Javier Miyares said these awards are proof that UMUC is leading the way in transforming higher education for adult learners.

“Our students are all over the world, and they have all kinds of needs,” he said.  “We are constantly looking for ways to make our education user-friendly and to highlight the accomplishments of our students for employers.”

Parchment is an academic credential management company that looks for ways to turn credentials into opportunities for providing services to students that transcend the traditional transcript, which simply lists courses taken and grades earned.  Parchment presents its awards to universities that are doing ground-breaking work in academic credentialing.

“So many Parchment members are pushing the envelope, doing new projects and revolutionizing their offices,” a company spokesperson said. “It’s time to shine a light on those who are making a difference.”

From Left: Matthew Pittinsky, CEO of Parchment; Joellen Shendy, associate vice provost and registrar; and Insiya Bream, assistant vice provost of registrar strategic operations

For Shendy and Bream, revolutionizing means turning the university’s work in creating the project-based Enhanced Learning Model into a new form of digital student record that demonstrates the specific competencies a student has developed while completing a UMUC degree.

Parchment cited Shendy and Bream for successfully piloting “a digital competency-based record that represents what a student can do.”

“We’re in the 21st century. Technology can help us find homes and mortgages, “ said Shendy, adding that when we purchase something online, we’re always shown what other customers who purchased the same item also bought. “This is the same sort of technology we would like to bring to higher education.”

In the future, she said, a record of the competencies a student has learned can also be linked to the competencies that an employer is seeking. Then, graduates not only will know where they can “shop” their skills, but also the new transcript might open doors to opportunities they did not know they were qualified to pursue.

And if graduates see that they are lacking specific competencies for jobs they want, Shendy said, the university can offer them ways to acquire them.

Bream said the concept can also be used by UMUC employees seeking to advance in their careers.

“We’re an employer, too,” she said. “We realized that a lot of the training opportunities available to our staff are helping them develop new marketable competencies. We want to help them [staff] reach their career goals, as well.”

Parchment cited Broadnax for going “above and beyond to assist every student she comes in contact with, taking extra initiative to make sure students are completely satisfied.”

Broadnax said that her goal is to make sure students who want to transfer into UMUC can do so with as little stress and complexity as possible. This is especially important for prospective students in the military who are stationed on the other side of the world and are having trouble contacting former schools.

“Sometimes the students are frustrated because they are having a hard time getting their stuff to us,” she said. “It is my job to ease that frustration to make sure that I can help them, even if it means going a little over the edge to contact their schools to try to help get their stuff to us.”