The University System of Maryland Shady Grove Education Center will offer a curriculum of day classes this fall that for the first time will enable students to complete a four-year public college education in Montgomery County.
Day programs in information technology, biotechnology, education and psychology will be offered first, for students who have completed their first two years of study. Programs in such subjects as accounting, social work and hotel management will be inaugurated next year.
State officials anticipate that the center's two-building Rockville complex, begun in 1992 at Darnestown and Shady Grove roads, will eventually be expanded with a third building for more classroom space and other student services as the program grows.
That $36 million building is projected to be completed in about four or five years and would probably include offices, a library, food service and student gathering areas.
"From the beginning, our intent at Shady Grove has been to provide a full range of courses during times that are convenient for residents of Montgomery County," University Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg said in announcing the changes last week.
"The center has proved more popular than anyone anticipated, and now after careful consideration we are prepared to expand on this great idea," he said.
The expansion will chiefly benefit students attending the county's two-year Montgomery College who previously had to transfer to complete their college programs.
Now, said Montgomery College President Charlene Nunley, "many transfer students who may have otherwise been without a feasible option for completing their four-year education will . . . be able to do so without ever leaving Montgomery County."
"I've been one of the advocates for [this] . . . from the outset," she said. "I recognized that the young people that we built the elementary schools for, the middle schools for, and that we are starting to build the high schools for, are now starting to come out at the other end of the pipeline."
She said the pressure of this "growth bulge" on the state education system is expected to be enormous. "One way to help address this issue would be to bring day, upper-level division classes to the Shady Grove site of the University of Maryland campus," she said.
She said the expansion will be especially helpful to Montgomery College's changing student body, which has became much more diverse in recent years.
Many students face severe financial challenges, Nunley said. Plus, "a lot of our international students don't want to go away from home again to pursue their educations. They've already made one big move in their lives."
Each of the new day programs will be offered and supported by the state institution where it originates, and the resulting degrees will be granted by those institutions. The new programs are:
Bachelor of science in early childhood/special education from Bowie State University.
Bachelor of liberal studies with specializations in business management, computer and information science, and computer science from the University of Maryland University College.
Bachelor of science in nursing, medical and research technology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Bachelor of science in psychology from the University of Baltimore.
Officials said they are expecting about 200 students to enter the new programs next year.
The Shady Grove center has been mostly used by students who work during the day and take courses at nights and on weekends, officials said.
The new arrangement "is a perfect setting for the traditional college student," said Montgomery College spokesman Steve Simon, "and also for the adult student who has the time to complete the baccalaureate degree, and you can do it close to home."
In addition, he said, "these are not programs that are less than what they would be" at their home institutions.
"These are the same quality degree programs that you would get if you were at the main campus."