This year the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs celebrates 25 years of providing a fully accredited liberal arts education to men and women. Although adult degree completion programs no longer seem like a radical idea, Mary Baldwin still leads the pack in flexibility, number of majors offered, and individual mentoring.
Baldwin Online and Adult Programs students complete the same coursework as traditional on-campus students, thereby earning the same degree – a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) that is universally recognized and accepted by graduate programs and employers alike. Incoming Baldwin Online and Adult Programs students can start at any point in their educational career. There is no minimum number of college credits required for admission and students can transfer up to 84 hours of credit from any accredited college or university. They may also receive advanced credit for life and work experience.
Vice President of R.L. Price Construction Company in Roanoke, VA, and 1996 graduate of Baldwin Online and Adult Programs, Greg Watts, dropped out of college in 1969 due to illness and shortly thereafter went to work, married and started a family. “I had within me a tremendous need to [finish college] . . . Mary Baldwin was the only thing available to a working person, and it was a real opportunity for a first-class education. I continued to work full time and took an average of two classes every semester. . . Having a degree looks better on a resume, but the main motivation was personal. I counted my education a real privilege, and I was thrilled.”
The program has grown from an initial class of eight women in the fall of 1977 to a program of 29 faculty and staff members serving over 1100 men and women. It is currently offered at five regional centers in Charlottesville, Richmond, Roanoke, Staunton and Weyers Cave. A sixth Virginia site will open next year in Sterling to serve Northern Virginia. Each regional center is an extension of the Mary Baldwin campus, complete with full-time faculty advisors, classrooms, computer labs, and academic and administrative services.
Susan Goff of Staunton, VA, 2001 Baldwin Online and Adult Programs graduate and a transition resource specialist with the Post-Secondary Education Rehabilitation Transition program, obtained a promotion because of the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity; it has opened my mind,” said Goff.
Janet Bruington of Richmond, VA, is a 2000 graduate with a major in Business Administration. With only three credits toward her degree, she started the Mary Baldwin University Baldwin Online and Adult Programs in 1995, 20 years after she began her college education. Working and taking classes simultaneously, she graduated five years later. She is now the manager of group insurance and retirement plans for Westvaco, a Fortune 500 company, and is working on her MBA.
“I was terrified, not having any real experience in the world of college, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was leery of how to work it into my schedule; my list of concerns was so long. I thought the degree would take me eight years to complete. Because of the freedom the program offered, I was able to finish in just under five years. I did almost exclusively independent studies. Westvaco promoted me into a management position from a clerical employee with the condition that I continue working towards my degree. However, the most valuable thing about my education was the absolute confidence I gained that I can do anything I put my mind to. This has changed my life. Distance programs are rapidly becoming a major force in the business world. They are not the correspondence courses of old. They have a lot of merit. I plan to continue and have considered law school.”
A Brief History of Baldwin Online and Adult Programs
- 1977 – First class of eight women enrolls. Baldwin Online and Adult Programs receives a start-up grant from the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education
- 1978 – First Baldwin Online and Adult Programs graduate
- 1979 – Baldwin Online and Adult Programs begins accepting men
- Enrollment grows from eight to 150 students – 90 percent are women
- 1983 – First off-campus center opens in Richmond
- 1984 – Roanoke center opens
- 1985 – Mary Baldwin and Piedmont Virginia Community College partner to open a center in Charlottesville
- 1993 – Mary Baldwin and Blue Ridge Community College create a regional center in Weyers Cave, bringing the number of regional centers to five
- Full-time Baldwin Online and Adult Programs faculty increases from four to 14
- Student numbers mushroom from 150 to 1100
- Computer systems are upgraded, on-line courses offered, on-line registration added; World Wide Web portal connects all Mary Baldwin students, faculty, and staff
- Baldwin Online and Adult Programs students dominate the majors in business, psychology, history, sociology, and healthcare, as well as in teacher licensure endorsements
- Students are no longer predominantly women who are returning to school in mid-life; a larger percentage are young men and women who are balancing career, family, and part-time education.
- 2000 – new certificate programs inaugurated in business management, entrepreneurship, leadership, long term care administration, and marketing/communication 2002
- Mary Baldwin will open sixth regional center in Sterling, VA, to serve Northern Virginia
Mary Baldwin University, with a main campus in Staunton, VA and five regional centers, excels in providing leadership training, character development and career preparation with a strong academic foundation. A multi-faceted liberal arts college, Mary Baldwin offers three residential programs for women – the Traditional Program for Women, the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, and the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership – as well as coeducational, non-residential bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Mary Baldwin offers the B.A. and/or the B.S. in 32 majors, the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with K-8 emphasis, the Master of Letters (M.Litt.) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance, and post-graduate teaching licensure (PGTL). The oldest women’s college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Mary Baldwin was founded in 1842 and was the first women’s college to be granted a circle of the national leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa. It is one of only 262 colleges and universities to shelter a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society.