Dr. William Raymond “Ray” Ehrensberger is recognized for his innovative and pioneering work in adult and continuing education with the University of Maryland. Dr. Ehensberger recognized the need for higher education for American service members stationed overseas. With his guidance, the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) became the first university to offer academic courses and degree programs taught on site at U.S. military bases abroad; the first to send its faculty to teach in a war zone (in Vietnam); and the first to confer bachelor’s degrees at U.S. military installations overseas. More than any other individual, Ray Ehrensberger was responsible for these remarkable developments and their ultimate success.
Dr. Ehrensberger began a lifelong career at the University of Maryland in 1938, where he initially served as a professor in the Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts, later becoming the chairman of the department. He taught the University of Maryland’s first course offered on a military installation in 1946. He advanced to the position of Dean of the College of Special and Continuation Studies (CSCS) at the University of Maryland, recognized as a flagship institution in offering educational programs on military installations around the world. He also served as the Chancellor of the University of Maryland University College from 1970 until his retirement in 1975. Ehrensberger died in 1997 at the age of 92.
One of Dr. Ehensberger’s foremost contributions was the development of the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies degree. This new degree was offered through the College of Special and Continuation Studies (CSCS), the forerunner of the University of Maryland University College. The program allowed students to complete a series of courses selected from various departments and colleges throughout the University of Maryland and to finish their requirements entirely off campus at locations across Maryland and overseas.
Ray Ehrensberger’s remarkable vision and leadership have enabled hundreds of thousands of military servicemen and women and others throughout the world to achieve their educational goals. The Ray Ehrensberger Award for Institutional Excellence in Military Excellence honors the name and history of Dr. Ehensberger. This award from the Commission on Military Education and Training, American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, sponsors an annual award for institutional excellence given to an accredited college or university providing educational programs and services for a predominantly military population.
"Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation."
-John F. Kennedy
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