Galligan retires after 36 years with HCC

June 09, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

Back in 1967, Carl Galligan was just finishing up his master's degree at Catholic University when he heard about a counseling job at a small junior college in a place called Hagerstown.

"I told my wife I didn't want to work at a junior college ... I wanted to work at a community college," Galligan said.

That wish wouldn't be granted until 1997, when Hagerstown Junior College was renamed Hagerstown Community College.

Galligan spent 36 years at HCC before retiring this year as dean of students.

"I interviewed with Atlee Kepler (the school's first president) at the former junior college building next to South Hagerstown High School," Galligan said. "When I saw his zeal, I knew this was where I wanted to be."


After signing on, Galligan served as the college's first and only guidance counselor for five years, then spent 31 years as dean of students. He never has regretted his decision.

"I've had the opportunity to work with students every single day," Galligan said. "Getting to know the students makes the work of a dean so much easier. They feel you really care about them."

Galligan explained that a dean of students makes sure all extra classroom needs are met, as well as clubs and athletics, too.

"I recruit them, admit them and advise them into correct majors," he said.

Financial aid also is a vital area where the dean of students gets involved.

"If you don't have a good financial aid program, you can't serve all the people in the community," he said.

To illustrate that, Galligan said two-thirds of the 2,873 students enrolled this spring received financial aid.

The tuition for a student averaging 16 hours or more is $1,100, and for 12 credits, tuition is $850, Galligan said.

Galligan said he believes America's community colleges provide the best opportunity for higher education.

"It has been most rewarding to work in a setting where the majority of the students are returning adults who want or need skills for the job market," he said. "Or sometimes, they are just enriching their lives."

Galligan says that he is good with names and rarely forgets a student no matter how long ago that student was on campus.

"Married names give me a little trouble since I remember the maiden names," Galligan said.

"Hagerstown Community College has been a safe campus," Galligan said. "Students care about each other here."

In all his years on campus, Galligan said there haven't even been 10 severe disciplinary actions, such as dismissals.

Galligan also boasted that no campus in Maryland is more beautiful and pastoral, crediting the students with keeping it that way.

"In my 36 years, I can't say that students have changed that much," Galligan said. "But they have been changed by computer technology and the repercussions of 9/11."

Galligan and his wife, Louise, have three grown children, Anne, Jeanne and Michael, all of whom were born in Hagerstown. Their three grandchildren live in Potomac, Md.

"The quality of life in Hagerstown was my gift to my kids," said Galligan, who grew up in a city.

Galligan, 63, received his undergraduate degree from St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore and was headed toward the Catholic priesthood. He changed his course to education, receiving both his master's degrees and doctorate from Catholic University.

After a brief respite, Galligan sees himself getting back into education in some form. He said he is very interested in following the development of the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center, now under construction in downtown Hagerstown.

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