The University of Maryland has offered courses all over the world since 1949. Now those programs occur through the University of Maryland University College but, before the creation of that separate institution, the University of Maryland offered courses to members of the armed forces through some 400 outposts across the world. John Glenn, the fifth man in space and the first American to orbit the earth, as well as an Ohio senator, attended UMD through the Pentagon outpost in the late 1950s. Through this extended relationship with the university, we claim him as one of our most famous and treasured alumni.
The 1963 Terrapin yearbook was dedicated to John Glenn and his spectacular 1962 trip on the Friendship 7 mission to orbit the earth. The editors cleverly noted that his trip to space truly made the University of Maryland an “out of this world” institution.
After retiring from the astronaut corps in 1964, John Glenn eventually served four full terms as a Democratic senator for Ohio. At 77 years of age, Glenn returned to space aboard the Discovery shuttle on October 29, 1998. On this trip he achieved further notoriety as the oldest human to enter space.
Americans remember John Glenn as their first man to orbit the earth – a pioneer of American frontiers like Lewis and Clark or the Wright brothers. He was part of a mission that, in 1962, totally revolutionized what humans thought was within the realm of possibility. John Glenn was the 1960s Charles Lindbergh – breaking boundaries that were thought to be impossible and paving the way for further exploration and technological innovation.
We are proud to call him a Terp, even if it was just for a little while.