A Brief History of

Overseas Military Programs

You may be aware that Metropolitan College currently administers academic degree and certificate programs at a handful of U.S. military bases—Hanscom AFB (Massachusetts), Henderson Hall (Virginia), and MCAS Cherry Point and MCAS New River/MCB Camp Lejeune (North Carolina). What you probably do not know is that when Boston University began providing overseas graduate degree programs to members of the U.S. armed forces and Department of Defense, JFK had been recently assassinated, Vietnam was heating up, and the Cold War had entered its second decade. The year was 1964.

Over the next 29 years, BU faculty taught military personnel in 54 education centers within Belgium, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. A variety of degree programs were offered by the University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS), School of Education (SED), and College of Engineering (ENG), as well as MET—which contributed the Master of Science degree programs in Business Administration (MSBA) and Computer Information Systems (MSCIS), among others.

In 1993, Boston University did not receive the contract for graduate education of military personnel in Europe, which led to the closure of the BU’s Office of Overseas Programs. At this point, Metropolitan College inherited the remaining network of international graduate programs available to the public, including those in London, England; Rome, Italy; Paris, France; Beer Sheva, Israel; and Zaragoza, Spain.

The last vestige of MET’s overseas programs—BU in Brussels—closed this past December. BU’s campus in Brussels, Belgium, originated under military contract in 1967, before opening its doors to the general public in 1972. The most recent master’s degree to be introduced in Brussels was MET’s Master of Science in Leadership, in 2009.

Today, the Leadership degree and a graduate certificate in Project Management continue to be available to students at each of MET’s U.S. military locations. In addition, Hanscom AFB offers master’s degrees in Computer Information Systems and Computer Science; and New River/Camp Lejeune offers the MS in Computer Information Systems.

The overseas military programs boast numerous prominent alumni, among them General Keith Alexander (MET’78), former director of the National Security Agency, and Major General Gale Pollock (MET’84), former acting surgeon general. Notable MET alumni from U.S. military locations include Albert Diaz (MET’93), judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (and speaker at MET’s 2012 Commencement ceremony). Diaz completed his MS in Business Administration at Camp Lejeune.

While there may no longer be overseas military programs offered through BU, students on active duty around the globe continue to enroll in MET’s online degree programs, completing their studies in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Q&A: Touching Base with Overseas Military Alumni

Metropolitan had an opportunity to reconnect with three alumni of the overseas military programs. Select an alum to learn more about his MET experience at a military base abroad.

  1. Frank Bragg MET'79

    Frank Bragg (MET’79)

    CEO of Centurion Intelligence Partners, MS in Business Administration

  2. Terry Finley MET'90

    Terry Finley (MET’90)

    CEO, West Point Thoroughbreds, MS in Business Administration

  3. Shamus Hanlon MET'86

    Shamus Hanlon (MET’86)

    President and CEO, Collins Brothers, LLC, MS in Business Administration

Frank Bragg

MET’79

Where were you stationed while completing your MET degree?

I was a lieutenant in the United States Army, assigned to Augsburg, Germany, 1976 to 1979.

How did you transition into a career after the military?

I served 27 years on active duty and retired as a colonel in January 2003. Then I worked in a large business for 34 months before starting two small companies.

How did earning a BU degree help prepare you for what you’re doing today?

I had a keen interest in business, and I wanted to create a plan that would allow me to transition into starting a new company from nothing but a concept on paper.

I have applied much of what I learned in the MSBA program to my responsibilities in the United States Army and in running my two small businesses.

What would you say to current military personnel in MET programs on base in the U.S.?

Take advantage of the opportunity to learn for today and tomorrow. I had a wonderful experience during my almost three years as a graduate student in Boston University; I have very fond memories of taking classes in Augsburg and Munich.

Terry Finley

MET’90

Where were you stationed while completing your MET degree?

I was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany, and completed my MSBA degree in Wurzburg, Germany. I was an artillery officer (lieutenant) in the Third Infantry Division from 1987 to 1990. This was my first duty assignment after graduating from West Point in 1986. I left Germany in 1990 and completed my military service in 1994.

How did you transition into a career after the military?

After I left the military, I started a company —at which I am currently CEO—called West Point Thoroughbreds. We syndicate racehorses. We built the company from one horse in 1994 to the largest racehorse syndicator in the country.

How did earning a BU degree help prepare you for what you’re doing today?

I wanted to learn more about the business world. I thought a degree would be a good way to help differentiate myself from the crowd, and it ended up really being a kick-starter for me.

I remember one of my accounting professors was very inspiring. He took the time to really get into the theory of numbers. Up to that point, I had not had any exposure to the financial side of business.

What would you say to current military personnel in MET programs on base in the U.S.?

An advanced degree from BU has certainly helped me in the civilian world. The knowledge from a degree program will help you advance both inside and outside of the military. I remain supremely proud of my affiliation with Boston University.

Shamus Hanlon

MET’86

Where were you stationed while completing your MET degree?

I was stationed in Mannheim and Heidelberg, West Germany, from December 1984 to December 1987, following graduation from West Point. I was a quartermaster officer; my first assignment was as company commander, HHC, Combat Equipment Group Europe, during which I commanded 130 headquarters personnel. As fate or luck would have it, I was the first West Point Class of 1984 graduate to be assigned company command. Following that assignment, I served as an accountable officer for the 574th Supply and Service Company, 51st Maintenance Battalion, in support of the 3rd Armored Division (Fwd) deployed from Mannheim to the East German border.

I arrived as a second lieutenant and was later promoted to first lieutenant. I subsequently ended my active duty service in October 1989.

How did you transition into a career after the military?

I opted into MET’s overseas degree program to continue my education at the graduate level and make myself more marketable and competitive to corporate America upon resigning my RA commission. I wanted to move into a leading consumer package goods company and work in brand management. I transitioned to my professional civilian career by attending the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, whereby I then moved to Frito Lay, Inc., in sales and marketing. I now serve as the president and CEO of Collins Brothers, LLC, in Chicago. Collins is a sales and distribution business offering retail bar supplies and liquor accessories to over seven thousand retail customers nationwide.

How did earning a BU degree help prepare you for what you’re doing today?

I can recall, distinctly, how dedicated the MET instructors were to our learning, growth, and development.

I wouldn’t be in the position I am today had I not attended BU’s overseas program. I can say without reservation that my time and study at BU has been as critically important to my career trajectory as West Point, the University of Chicago, or any of the major corporations in which I have worked.

What would you say to current military personnel in MET programs on base in the U.S.?

Well done! Keep after it—your association with BU will pay career- and life-long dividends.

I'm fortunate to be associated with BU as an alumnus, and proudly consider myself not only a Black Knight and Maroon, but also a Terrier. Boston Strong!