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Community helped college grow

September 13, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - The original Hagerstown Community College could have filled one level of one building on the current 316-acre campus off of Robinwood Drive.

When the college opened in 1946, it was called Hagerstown Junior College, and the 92 students - mostly World War II veterans - met in the basement of Hagerstown High School.

In 1956, the college moved to a building on the South Hagerstown High School campus. When the college first held classes on its current campus 10 years later, there were 782 students.

When Dr. Norman P. Shea took over as president of HCC in 1986, he said he knew there were plans to construct a new gymnasium. He did not know that during his 16 years as president he would oversee the construction of four new buildings, several additions and numerous renovation projects.

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"I knew we were going to build an athletic center on campus," Shea said.

The center, known as the Athletic Recreation and Community Center, was built in 1988.

He said the gymnasium had a lot of community support from the initial planning stages. At the time, Washington County did not have a large area available for community events and activities. Graduations, concerts and fundraisers have been held in the 46,000-square-foot main room of the ARCC. The building is 90,000 square feet.

"Washington County didn't have a room like that," Shea said. "It was a joint college and community (effort)."

The college's former gymnasium became the Advanced Technology Center in 1989. The technology center provides training and technical know-how to local industries.

Shea said the Technical Innovation Center, which was built as an attachment to the Technology Center in 1994, is a local business incubator for technology-oriented business startups. Entrepreneurs are provided with space and capital to help grow their companies, he said.

An addition was added to the campus' science building in 1990.

In 1998, the Children's Learning Center was built. Shea said the college had a lot of single parents who either attended school or were unable to attend because they had no child care. The center was built at the former student center.

For many HCC students, having affordable child care on campus made attending school easier. It also enabled some to enroll.

The college's Valley Mall Center opened in 2000. In that same year, a Learning Resource Center was built on campus. The school's library is on the second floor of that building.

The new library is at least three times the size of the school's old library, Shea said.

Alumni Amphitheater was constructed in 2000, and the final major construction project Shea oversaw was the opening of the College Center in 2002.

"The college was responding to growth in the area," Shea said. "As the area grew, the college grew."

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