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Opinions differ on class options at Hagerstown Education Center

September 25, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Education, nursing and business probably will head the list of major studies at The University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center, but market studies will be conducted before the curriculum is finalized, University Systems Chancellor William "Brit" Kirwan said Tuesday.

Washington County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan advocated focusing the center on the arts after expressing concern that without a signature program, the center might lose appeal for students outside the area.

"If we're not clever about it, we're going to have an empty building," Morgan said at a Tuesday meeting of University System officials and a local steering committee at the Frostburg State University Center in Hagerstown.

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"We're in an early enough stage that lots of ideas can be considered," Kirwan said after the meeting.

Donald Boesch, interim vice chancellor of academic affairs for the University System, said Morgan's recommendations to focus on arts and education with an emphasis on urban teaching will be considered during the curriculum planning process.

"We've already begun serious planning," Boesch said. He said he expects to have a better sense of course offerings in the spring.

Mark Beck, director of capital planning for the system, said a specialized nursing laboratory is built into the program.

Boesch said the system plans to conduct marketing surveys on different levels to determine the areas on which the school will focus.

Steering committee members said the education center is expected to pull students from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as surrounding areas of Maryland.

State Sen. Donald Munson, R-Washington, said the county has been underserved when it comes to higher education and that the Frostburg State Center has never been serious about its services.

"It's a regrettable fact," he said.

Kirwan said earlier he feels the partnership between Hagerstown Community College and the education center will be vital to the growth of the center.

"People can get a full four-year degree without even leaving the county," he said.

Morgan said an arts program would coincide with plans for an arts and entertainment district in downtown Hagerstown.

"We'd be foolish not to look at what will draw people here," she said.

Kirwan said after the meeting that the education center is opening here in response to the county's educational needs and not to create a destination for other people in the state.

The meeting was Kirwan's first with the steering committee since he took the chancellor's post in August. Before serving as president at Ohio State University, Kirwan was president at the University of Maryland in College Park.

"I think there's a tremendous opportunity to serve the people of this community through this center," he said.

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