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Professor - HCC traffic woes affect education

September 15, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

A few stragglers hurriedly took their seats minutes after professor Mike Harsh began his lecture on public speaking.

"Couldn't find parking?" Harsh asked.

"No," they huffed.

The scene is a common one at Hagerstown Community College, where the parking and traffic situation is becoming disruptive to learning, said Harsh, who teaches English, speech and drama at HCC.

"Parking is so far (away)," Harsh said. "Students are coming in late to class because they can't find a parking space."

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Parking and congestion are among the many issues the campus faces in the wake of record enrollment. HCC is the fastest-growing community college in the state, said Michael Keller, director of research for the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

The rapid growth has put new demands on the school, HCC President Guy Altieri said. Though the college can hold as many as 2,000 students at a time and usually operates at 88 percent capacity, the campus is packed during peak afternoon hours, spokeswoman Beth Stull said.

Because of the growth, Stull said the college has had to start offering classes on weekends.

HCC instructors are feeling the pinch.

"They're going to have to hire more teachers," Harsh said.

Harsh said all of his classes are full, though he's added two more sections to his normal course load.

Biology professor David Karstaedt said the school's 40-year-old science labs needed upgrading. His microbiology class, of mostly nursing students, must share a lab with physics students since there is only one lab specifically designated for biology.

"It's a real challenge," Karstaedt said. "When I finish a lab, I can't leave anything set up for my next class."

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