Live chat with HCC President Guy Altieri - transcript

October 19, 2005

The Herald-Mail will present a live chat with Hagerstown Community College President, Guy Altieri, starting at 9:00 am and ending at 10:00 am today. Questions or comments can be submitted by clicking here before and during the chat.

When you took the reins at HCC in 2002, you said you would plan the college's future by looking to the past. You said you would meet with college officials and community leaders about the school's history. What did you hear and what was the most important thing you kept from HCC's past?

Altieri: The feedback I got from community leaders and college officials was that the college was extremely well postured for easy entry of students to a variety of program areas and that everyone wanted to continue the tradition of a comprehensive open-door community college. Over the last three years our enrollments have gone up by approximately 33 percent. This is clear indication that we continue to be the community's college responding to the needs of the community and the needs of individuals for post secondary education.


In 2002, your list of strategic goals included more educational opportunities for high school students, including new health care, technology and education programs that would match up with what the local school system is doing. Is that partnership working well?

Altieri: Since 2002 the most significant partnership initiative with the county schools has been the initiation of the ESSENCE Program. This program provides the opportunity for high school juniors and seniors who are ready for college level work to get an early start in their college studies. Currently we have approximately 450 high school juniors and seniors taking college credit courses before they've graduated from high school. This program is open to students attending local public and private high schools as well as students who are homeschooled. As the college has studied this population of students who are taking advantage of these early college opportunities we have found that they are doing extremely well and have grade point averages that match or exceed the traditional college-age students. HCC and Washington County Public Schools continue to work well together in encouraging more students to continue their education beyond high school. Projections are now showing that within the next few years 75 percent of all new jobs in Maryland will require some level of education beyond high school. So this partnership remains critically important to the success of the county.

With the ESSENCE (Early Start Students ENter College Education) Program, is there a tuition discount for high school students?

Altieri: Yes, by HCC board policy county students enrolled in the ESSENCE Program receive a 50 percent discount on in-county tuition. This program has been so successful that students from outside of Washngton County have asked to get tuition discounts as well. Consequently the college board of trustees created the ESSENCE II Program which provides a 25 percent discount for students from outside of Washington County.

In March of this year, you requested an almost $800,000 increase in the HCC budget, saying the need was there because HCC is one of the state's fastest growing community colleges. Have the tuition increases at the University System of Maryland schools been a factor in bringing more students to HCC?

Altieri: With HCC becoming one of the fastest growing community colleges in the state we have had significant resource challenges. With these increased enrollments we have had to hire additional faculty, purchase additional instructional equipment, as well as renovate and expand our facilities. Therefore the modest increases that we have requested in serving more students has resulted in HCC's cost per FTE (fulltime equated) student remaining one of the lowest in the state.

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