Still growing after 60 years

September 15, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - A $49 million capital improvement plan at Hagerstown Community College promises to shape the campus over the next five years.

Two of the biggest projects are the renovation of the Career Programs Building and the renovation and reconfiguration of the Classroom Building, science buildings and Kepler Theater.

The school plans to improve the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center and add a second campus entrance. It also will triple the capacity of its Children's Learning Center, which might serve as a day-care program for Washington County Hospital employees when the hospital moves to Robinwood Drive, President Guy Altieri said.

Construction costs are rising fast. Altieri said that four years ago, the Career Programs Building project was expected to cost $12 million. Now, the estimate is $18 million.


Altieri said the college's academics are changing and diversifying. There's a greater need for basic adult education programs. A growing immigrant population has required more classes in English as a second language.

Since trucking and distribution are staples of Washington County, HCC is expanding its commercial driver's license program. The college is buying tractor-trailers and a driving simulator.

HCC had about 37 programs when Altieri took over as president in 2002, but now has more than 100, said Barbara Macht, the college's dean of planning and institutional effectiveness.

"We're going to flex in whatever way the community needs us to flex," Altieri said.

Tony Dahbura, chairman of the college's board of trustees, said another example is biotechnology, which is not a big trend now in Washington County, but soon will be.

HCC plans to build about six or seven "wet labs," or chemical research facilities, for startup biotechnology and life sciences companies at its Technical Innovation Center.

The center hopes to pick an architect for the project by the end of the month, said Chris Marschner, the center's director.

"We've talked to the personnel department at Fort Detrick," which is expanding its operations in Frederick, Md., Altieri said. "...They'll be hiring hundreds, thousands in the next few years."

"We're being proactive," Dahbura said.

The total number of credit and noncredit students attending HCC increased 22 percent from 2000 to 2006. Macht said that even when the number of students dropped one year, the total number of credit hours went up.

As the funding burden has shifted from the state to the county, the county has kept up, Altieri said. The county increased its HCC funding by 2 percent, 4 percent and 6 percent for three consecutive years, then 15 percent in fiscal years 2006 and 2007.

HCC is counting on 10 percent increases from 2009 to 2012.

HCC has raised tuition at least 3 percent and no more than 6 percent per year since 2003. Altieri said HCC prefers slight, annual increases to avoid needing a larger, disproportionate, one-time increase. He expects that philosophy to continue.

HCC celebrates 60 years

Editor's Note: Hagerstown Community College is celebrating its 60th year of operation. In a six-part series, The Herald-Mail looks at the college's past, present and future.

Sunday: 60 years and three college presidents

Monday: The first registrar remembers going door-to-door signing up students

Tuesday: The man who served as dean of students for 33 years calls HCC the "opportunity college"

Wednesday: Over the years, HCC's campus has grown

Thursday: New programs have drawn new students

Today: What the future holds for HCC

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