Hagerstown Community College will open a new science building and an expanded theater in January, at the same time it closes two other buildings for renovation.
"We need more space and updated and more sophisticated space for the types of programs we're now offering," HCC spokeswoman Beth Stull said.
In recent years, HCC also has added specialized programs such as biotechnology and alternative energy technology with the goal of providing courses and programs that are relevant for current and future students, she said.
Significant growth during the past 10 years has driven the need to expand, Stull said. In the past 10 complete fiscal years, the number of students enrolled in HCC credit courses has grown from 3,883 students in fiscal year 2002 to 6,850 students in fiscal year 2011, according to enrollment data.
The new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) building and a newly renovated and expanded Kepler Theater will open Jan. 9, Stull said.
In addition to the building campaign, HCC officials are planning new courses and students could be able to take all of the courses for two degree programs online as early as the fall of 2012, Stull said.
College officials are making sure all of the classes for general studies and business administration associate degrees, including science classes, can be offered online, HCC Recruitment Coordinator Kevin Crawford said.
The college also needs to get approval from its accrediting agency, Middle States Association of Colleges & Schools, for the online degree programs, HCC officials said.
Many of the school's general studies courses already are offered online, as well as a certificate in management, Crawford said.
As the STEM building and theater open in January, HCC will close its classroom and science buildings so they can be renovated, Stull said.
The new STEM building will serve the college's biotechnology, alternative energy technology, cybersecurity, math and engineering degrees, and will temporarily provide space for other classes while the classroom building is renovated, Stull said. Construction for the STEM building began in June 2010, she said.
The classroom building dates to the 1960s, when HCC opened its campus off Robinwood Drive, Stull said.
The building needs a face-lift and will have its technology and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems upgraded, HCC officials said.
The science building will become the Learning Center, where students will take placement tests and, if needed, remedial course work before taking courses for their degree programs, Stull and Crawford said.
The classroom building and Learning Center are scheduled to open in January 2013, Stull said.
Construction costs for the Arts & Sciences Complex, which consists of the STEM building, the Learning Center and the classroom building, are $24.8 million, Stull said.
Construction on the Performing & Visual Arts Education Center/Kepler Theater, which began in November 2010, cost $11.5 million, Stull said.
The 442-seat auditorium in the 33-year-old theater was refurbished and new lighting and sound systems were added, Stull said.
A second floor was added to the theater building, creating an open two-story lobby that has gallery space, Stull said.
The theater project added a black box theater, a dance studio, classrooms, a costume shop and faculty offices, she said. Dressing rooms, wardrobe storage and practice rooms were expanded.
The theater expansion allows HCC to increase its course and degree offerings and makes it a good place for Barbara Ingram School for the Arts students to transfer for art programs, Stull said.
Currently, HCC offers degrees in music, music education, theater, visual arts and visual arts education, Crawford said.
Stull said new visual and performing arts course offerings might be ready for the fall of 2012.