Founded in 1961, Allegany College of Maryland has grown steadily over the years. Its three campuses -- in Cumberland, Md., Bedford County, Pa., and Somerset County, Pa. -- offer quality education at an affordable price to full-time and part-time students, including recent high school graduates and returning adult learners.
In its early years the school placed heavy emphasis on the liberal arts. More recently, though, the college has developed a highly specialized, career-oriented curriculum, with programs in technology and other areas intended to prepare students to succeed in the region's increasingly sophisticated industrial work force.
From its humble origins in a former schoolhouse, the college has grown to encompass a $27.5 million, 316-acre campus in Cumberland, where it plays host to some 3,000 students. The hub of student life is the College Center, which includes the student lounge, dining facilities, a 400-seat theater and various administrative offices. Other highlights on campus include a well-equipped physical education building, a technology center outfitted with sophisticated computer facilities, and a continuing education building that includes both classrooms and meeting facilities.
In 2002, the school introduced its first student housing facility. Located adjacent to the Cumberland campus, the privately operated Willowbrook Woods offers luxury garden apartments with all the amenities.
In Bedford County, the college draws some 340 students a year to its campus in the town of Everett. That facility includes classrooms, a computer lab, a distance-learning classroom and other staples of a modern learning environment. Likewise, the 25-acre Somerset County campus consists of classrooms, a computer facility, a bookstore and various administrative offices.
The college has played a significant role in the economic development of the Allegany County region, especially through its Center for Continuing Education. The center offers on-campus training in Cumberland, as well as customized on-site courses designed to meet the specific needs of local employers. The center also serves as a teleconferencing facility for area businesses.
While students have the opportunity to enjoy various attractions in the Western Maryland region, the area's biggest selling point probably is its inherent natural beauty, which has been preserved in a number of spectacular settings. The 3,000-acre Rocky Gap State Park offers rugged mountain beauty, while Green Ridge State Forest boasts 44,000 acres of oak and hickory forest. In Cumberland itself, the C&O Canal provides an extensive trail for hiking and biking.
Students don't spend all their time communing with nature, however.
Those looking to pursue associate degrees can study in a vast range of disciplines, including automotive technology, computer science, culinary arts, forest technology and nursing. One-year certificates are offered in dozens of fields, including office technologies, criminal justice, biotechnology and accounting, to name a few.
Students also may choose to study in one of several transfer programs, with the goal of eventually transferring their credits to a four-year institution in pursuit of a bachelor's degree. These majors include mathematics, biology, philosophy, computer science, history, social work and various other fields within the humanities and sciences.
Overall, it is the academic mission that drives Allegany College, especially as that mission relates to the ongoing economic development of the region. The college plays a vital role in providing local industry with qualified workers, and in so doing, it helps thousands of local residents each year to realize their dreams of career enhancement and personal enrichment.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun