The University of Maryland Eastern Shore had its origin on September 13, 1886. Initiated under the auspices of the Delaware Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Delaware Conference Academy was established in Princess Anne on that date with nine students and one faculty.
Records reveal that 37 students were enrolled by the end of the year. Subsequently, the institution bore the title of Industrial Branch of Morgan State College, still under the influence of the Delaware Conference. As originally operated by the Morgan State College under the control of the Methodist Church, the institution was known as Princess Anne Academy.
The State of Maryland, in operating its landgrant program at the Maryland Agricultural College at College Park, to which Afro-Americans were not admitted as students, sought to provide a Land-Grant program for Afro-Americans and assumed control of the Princess Anne Academy, renaming it the Eastern Shore Branch of the Maryland Agricultural College. The arrangement was effected in 1919.
In 1926, the College passed into complete control and ownership of the State and the University of Maryland was designated as the administrative agency. In 1948, the Eastern Shore Branch of the university of Maryland, popularly known as Princess Anne College, became officially Maryland State College, a Division of the University of Maryland.
On July 1, 1970, Maryland State College became the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. With the strong support of the Maryland Board of Regents, Systems Administration, and the faculty, UMES has developed an academic program above and perhaps more impressive than any other higher educational institution of its size in the East.
Today, the University offers major programs leading to the B.A. and B.S. degrees in 26 disciplines in the arts and sciences, professional studies and agricultural sciences. In addition, UMES presents 13 teaching degree programs and eight pre-professional programs, as well as an Honors Program designed in cooperation with the University of Maryland at Baltimore to prepare students for professional school study.
UMES offers graduate degrees in the following fields: Marine-Estuarine and Environmental Sciences at the M.S. and Ph.D. levels; Toxicology at the M.S. and Ph.D. levels, M.S. in Applied Computer Science, Guidance and Counseling, Agricultural and Extension Education, Physical Education, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant and Special Education.
From its original building known as "Olney," constructed in 1798, when George Washington was still alive, the University now has over 600 acres, 28 major buildings and 41 other units. Today the University offers not only a well-constructed and varied academic program, but a beautiful campus. It provides today’s student, through a versatile student life, an opportunity to develop into a well-rounded individual who is able to assume leadership in today’s society. As the University of Maryland Eastern Shore enters its second century, it continues with an even greater vigor; the extent of progress and the apex of quality continue to expand.
Long-term plans include expanding the curriculum for graduate study, new construction and renovation projects for classroom and administrative buildings, and an improved physical plant. With the continued expansion of UMES, the University will continue to increase its enrollment of in-state students, and move toward greater selectivity in admitting high school graduates.
Within the last decade, UMES has added 17 new degree-granting programs to its academic roster. Graduates of these programs often choose to remain on the Delmarva Peninsula, procuring careers in their areas of professional study, to benefit the region, particularly the Lower Eastern Shore. The prediction is that this local enrichment will continue as more students enroll in the University’s programs of business and economics, physical therapy, hotel and restaurant management, poultry technology and management, and computer science. Likewise the outlook is good for the sciences, agriculture, liberal arts and graduate programs.
As the Eastern Shore continues to gain in productivity and recognition, UMES will continue to serve the needs of the industries and people around it. UMES is the only four-year institution on the shore to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science, the University has long been known for providing professional training in the key regional industries of hospitality management, and the management of commercial poultry and swine operations.
The newest programs on the UMES campus also look toward current and future needs of the Eastern Shore. Airway Science, Law Enforcement and Rehabilitation services have all been recently added to the University’s offerings. Greater course offerings during evening and weekend hours have also been developed, allowing a greater segment of the local population to enhance themselves and their communities through post-secondary education.