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Enrollment figures remain high at Hagerstown Business College

January 14, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

When W. Christopher Motz took the helm of Hagerstown Business College last September, enrollment was at an all-time high.

The college began its fall semester with 558 students, the highest enrollment in its 60-year history.

The number of students is remarkable because the unemployment rate in Washington County is unusually low. "Typically, when unemployment is low your student population drops," Motz said. "That hasn't happened."

Motz attributes the increase to a new admissions director's recruiting efforts. Previously, the college sought students within a 40-mile radius. It now reaches out within 100 miles.

Motz won't take credit for the current prosperity, but he hopes to make it last.

The Waynesboro, Pa., native joined the college as academic dean in May 1997. When former President James Gifford resigned in September, Motz was named interim president. The college appointed him president in December.

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In the next millennium, Motz hopes to stay the course. The college's mission hasn't changed since it was founded in 1938, he said.

"We're going to continue to do what we've always done," he said. But he plans to expand the college's technology programs.

The college offers two-year associate degrees in several subjects, including business administration, computerized accounting, legal and medical studies. Although it offers a computer applications course, that is limited to software.

"We need to focus on the technological aspects of business in the community," Motz said.

To survive, the college must be responsive to the needs of industry, he said. That means offering courses in computer networks and hardware.

The college recently replaced its computer lab and wired its classroom building for a network. The college increased tuition from $165 per credit hour to $169 in order to pay for those improvements, Motz said. The increase took effect this semester.

Motz, 31, has a background in two kinds of higher education. He attended Indiana's Huntington College, where he earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in Christian ministry. He then obtained a master's degree in higher education administration from Ball University.

As president, he will continue to teach an English course, "Presentation Skills for the Professional."

Teaching is his way of keeping in touch with the students, he said.

"If you ask them why they like it here, it's the personable nature of the college," he said.

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