HCC asks lawmakers to protect funding

November 15, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Hagerstown Community College President Guy Altieri speaks to Washington County lawmakers and HCC trustees Tuesday afternoon at the college.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — As Hagerstown Community College has added students and programs, it has trimmed costs and increased class sizes because of budget cuts.

That was part of HCC’s message on Tuesday to state lawmakers who represent Washington County.

For the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session in January, HCC hopes the Washington County delegation will support:
• Avoiding further cuts to community colleges’ funding.
• A consolidated list of community college projects for the state’s fiscal 2013 capital budget, including $379,000 for HCC to design a larger student center.
• Increasing the proportion of state financial aid going to community college students and making guaranteed admissions and transfer scholarships at University System of Maryland entities contingent on an associate degree.
• Not burdening community colleges with pension costs.

Those priorities are part of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges’ 2012 legislative agenda, according to a PowerPoint presentation made to lawmakers.

One slide said HCC’s enrollment grew 76 percent from fiscal 2002 to fiscal 2011. In fiscal 2011, the college had 15,611 students in credit and continuing education programs.

The number of credit programs has risen from 41 to 109 since 2002.

HCC President Guy Altieri said the college is focusing on the emerging fields of biotechnology, energy technology and cybersecurity, and has a partnership with a company creating a solar farm in Washington County.

Work on a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics building and a Kepler Theater addition is expected to be finished in December.

Altieri said the college supports having a new Washington County senior center on the campus.

And plans for a new road leading to HCC and the nearby Meritus Medical Center are in the early stages.

Gregory I. Snook, vice chairman of HCC’s board of trustees, said a traffic study shows that 19,000 vehicles travel along that stretch of Robinwood Drive each day and 10,000 of those use the HCC campus.

Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, asked about the college’s long-term plans for its land.

The college has 319 acres, according to Merle Elliott, another HCC trustee.

Altieri said the college could develop a connection with Meritus Medical Center and with the technology park that the Washington County Industrial Foundation has proposed.

Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, asked how HCC handles student applications from illegal immigrants.

Donna E. Rudy, HCC’s dean of student affairs, said those students are admitted, but must pay out-of-state tuition.

Altieri estimated that “less than 15” of the current 5,200 credit students are illegal immigrants.

Parrott — who led a petition drive against a new state law granting in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants — recommended that HCC use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of applicants.

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