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30-member commission shaping Future of HCC

Panel asked to examine challenges and opportunities that the local community college is expected to face in the next five years

September 23, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION
  • Hagerstown Community College President Guy Altieri gives opening remarks at the kickoff meeting for community members on the 30-member Commission on the Future of HCC.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Giving students the skills they need to tap into large numbers of jobs at Fort Detrick.

Answering a call from employers who say stronger work ethics are needed from people.

Helping unemployed people learn new skills.

Those were among possible initiatives examined Thursday afternoon at Hagerstown Community College as a newly formed commission to explore local higher education needs started its work.

The 30-member Commission on the Future of HCC is being asked to examine the challenges and opportunities that the local community college is expected to face in the next five years. The commission is composed of four study groups, including student and student affairs; programs and educational support; finances, facilities, human resources and technology support; and effectiveness and quality assurance.

HCC President Guy Altieri said after Thursday's meeting that there is no requirement that the school formulate a five-year plan. But he said the school's accrediting agency likes to see good strategic planning and the school can be flexible in how it does the work.

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Some of the discussion Thursday centered around getting more students into higher education.

John League, editor and publisher of The Herald-Mail Co. and co-chair of the commission, mentioned a 2000 Census statistic that 14.6 percent of Washington County adults have a bachelor's degree or higher. The state average was 31.4 percent, according to the Census.

"That ought to shock you," League told commission members.

At the kickoff meeting of the group in the school's Career Programs Building, the four study groups started their discussions about what they believe is needed at the school.

At a break-out discussion among commission members exploring programs and educational support, much of the discussion involved matching HCC programs with what is going on in the economy.

Commission co-chair Carolyn Brooks said the economy drives a lot of school programs, such as a trucking program that the school now offers at the Volvo Powertrain North America plant.

There is a lot of talk at the school about community needs, "but we don't get there all the time," said Judy Oleks, vice president of academic affairs at HCC. That is attributed to the high cost of new programs, Oleks said.

Doris J. Nipps, executive director of the PenMar Development Corp., commented on the large number of jobs at Fort Detrick and suggested that commission members talk to officials at the facility to determine what job skills they need in workers.

There was talk about the importance of getting more local college graduates to return to Washington County and some agreed that Frederick County would be close enough.

"They (would) come here at night," Oleks said.

Members of the commission were picked by HCC's board of trustees and reflect a variety of people from the local community and people associated with the school.

The group is expected to complete its work by April, according to a press release. Following review by the school's board of trustees and input from HCC faculty and staff, final recommendations will be included in HCC's Strategic Plan 2016, which will be implemented beginning in September 2012, according to the release.

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