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USM-H marks 5 years with fundraising reception

Evening was college's way of congratulating those in Hagerstown who helped make higher education accessible to area students

December 10, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

High-five — A slapping of the upraised, open hand of another person, as in congratulation or celebration.

Or, for the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, a five-year accomplishment characterized by a partnership with five Maryland universities, more than 500 college graduates and $500,000 in scholarship money.

USM-H hosted a “Cheers for 5 Years” reception Friday at its downtown Hagerstown campus to celebrate its anniversary.

The evening wasn’t exactly hands slapped high in the air, but the buffet spread, the proclamations and mock-knighting ceremony by the queen were the college’s way of congratulating those in Hagerstown who helped make higher education accessible to area students while also asking their support for the future.

The reception was a fundraiser, said Erin Harman, director of advancement and outreach at the campus.

Proceeds from the event benefited the USM-H ScholarshipFund, which has so far awarded $50,000 to 10 students, she said.

As of 6 p.m. Friday, more than $18,500 had been raised for the fund, said Dr. C. David Warner III, executive director of USM-H.

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For the students who study in Hagerstown, scholarships make it that much easier to obtain their degrees.

“It’s a double blessing, really,” said Carmen Veneziano of Hagerstown.

Veneziano is a sociology major at Frostburg State University and president of the campus student council who received a $2,500 scholarship to help him take his classes in Hagerstown.

“It helped me cover a whole semester,” he said. “And it is here.”

Jeanine Horst of Hagerstown said she has children who are in college and was considering taking time off because of the expense.

Receiving a scholarship allowed the elementary and early education major at Frostburg State University to continue her education uninterrupted, she said.

The celebration had its own form of levity as Queen Elizabeth, portrayed by actress Mary Ann Jung, instructed people on how to properly bow to the University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan.

Warmer said the campus brought a renaissance to downtown Hagerstown, so the historical period, personified by the queen, has been a theme at campus events.

As Kirwan pointed out, in Queen Elizabeth’s time chancellors were members of the royal family, so he joked that he should have more respect.

But those receiving the most respect Friday were the individuals honored for helping make it the past five years so successful.

Outgoing state Sen. Donald Munson, Gaye McGovern and Kirwan were all recognized for their contributions with a proclamation from the queen and a mock-knighting ceremony.

Kirwan said it was the drive, determination and passion of Munson that made the campus a reality.

“We all know how important an education is,” McGovern said, when asked about her recognition.

The impact of the center on Hagerstown is only just beginning, Kirwan said.

Warner said he expects to have receptions, like the one Friday, celebrating, 10, 15 and 20 years in downtown Hagerstown.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and County Commissioner John F. Barr spoke on behalf of the community, thanking the campus and the patrons who made it possible.

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