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HCC plan - Tuition hike, more minority teachers

June 27, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Hagerstown Community College plans to raise tuition by July 2002 and hire more black employees.

But the college may not do either of those things, according to President Norman Shea. Raising tuition may not be necessary and hiring more minorities may not be possible, he said Thursday.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission requires community colleges to submit data on education quality, student and faculty diversity, financial accessibility and other categories. Colleges set benchmarks in each field to establish goals.

The data provide accountability and help the college improve by mapping its progress, said HCC's Director of Institutional Research and Planning Barbara E. Macht. The benchmarks show where the college is headed.

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"(It's) what we're striving for," Shea said.

Setting those goals two years ago was difficult because the college had to decide what was attainable, according to the president.

"We had to determine what is realistic," he said. "Do we stretch objectives and make the college reach out? It was a real hard task to do."

For example, by the fall of 2001, the college wants 2 percent of its faculty and 4 percent of its executive or managerial staff to be black. Those percentages are now zero, but the college is trying to change that, according to Shea.

"We have actively tried to fill positions with minorities," he said. A month ago, a Hagerstown man who is black applied for a position as counselor/advisor. He took a more attractive job in College Park, Md. according to Shea.

During the annual Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, Macht reviewed HCC's benchmarks. Board member Carolyn Brooks, who is black, said increasing the number of black faculty members will be difficult because there are few applicants.

"It's the reality of this area," she said Tuesday, referring to the predominantly white population. "The board of education is experiencing the same thing."

Another established benchmark is increasing tuition. The rate is now $76 per credit hour for in-county students, and the college has not raised it for two years. But the benchmark is set at $86.

"We anticipate by 2003 it will be that. We hope it's not," said Shea.

Whether the rate is raised depends on government aid. The college gets financial support from the state and county.

"The last thing we go to to balance the budget is tuition," Shea said.

The college already exceeds some benchmarks, such as the number of women in full-time faculty positions. The benchmark is half and last fall HCC had 59 percent. The college had 61 percent women in executive/managerial positions.

The number of HCC students transferring to four-year educational institutions in Maryland jumped from 105 to 133 between 1996 and 1998. That puts the college much closer to its benchmark for the 2000 school year, 138.

But some benchmarks are hard to reach. "Have we set realistic goals? I tell you I don't know," said Shea. "I think the college is on a good, solid course."

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