Howard Community College

Special to SunSpot

Howard Community College (HCC) is located in the heart of Howard County on 120 wooded acres in Columbia. Just 20 minutes from Baltimore and 30 minutes from Washington, D.C., Columbia offers a long list of amenities for its residents. Similarly, HCC offers a wide range of academic choices and extracurricular activities for its students.

According to the school's catalogue, more than 5,000 students pursue studies at HCC that lead to transfers to four-year colleges or immediate employment upon graduation. One-third of these students are full-time and more than half of those are women. An additional 12,000 part-time students take day, evening, weekend or summer courses for personal or professional development rather than seek degrees.

Forty-three percent of Howard County residents enrolled in undergraduate study are enrolled at HCC. By contrast, only 12 percent of Howard Countians attend the University of Maryland, College Park; 11 percent attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and just 7 percent enroll at Towson University, according to HCC.

More than 500 courses are offered, and of the 40 majors, general studies, business administration and nursing are the most popular. Others include accounting, alcohol/drug abuse counseling, art, biomedical technology, cardiovascular technology, computer science, criminal justice/law enforcement administration, education, engineering, fashion merchandising, health education, music, nuclear medical technology, photography, physical sciences, psychology, retail management and telecommunications.

Founded by the Board of Education of Howard County, the school was formally authorized by the Howard County Commissioners and approved by the State of Maryland in 1966. It held its first classes in October 1970.

HCC considers itself a major force in the intellectual, cultural and economic life of Howard County. It provides learning systems that help the school keep pace with the ever-changing needs and interests of the community. The Charles I. Ecker Business Training Center, a state-of-the-art facility that provides training solutions and programs customized for specific needs, offers a variety of non-credit computer and advanced technology courses for individuals and companies.

The mission of the administration is to establish a connection between the college and the community, and it is committed to fully develop the talents and strengths of students and faculty. Notable offerings include the renowned James W. Rouse Scholars Program and the statewide Biomedical Engineering Technology Program. Financial aid is provided through a $1 million endowment in addition to federal, state and local sources.

The rural campus, located approximately one mile from downtown Columbia, features numerous specialized buildings that are designed to be more than just student-friendly. The Science and Technology Building is home to the campus bookstore and features computers, robots and lasers for high tech learning. The Galleria is designated an open space for individual study or informal gatherings. The Library has more than 40,000 books and periodicals and 95 computer work stations with Internet access. The Administration Building offers learning labs and art studios. The Student Activity Center provides an exclusive domain for the student government, the monthly student newspaper The HCC Times and other student activities. provides an outlet for performing artists, such as the school's choral group. Theatre Outback is a "black box" performance space for student productions and experimental theater.

HCC is known for its , a professional equity theater company in residence at the school. The company has received four Helen Hayes Awards and some of its acclaimed productions include "The Philadelphia Story," "The Judas Kiss" and "A Moon for the Misbegotten."

HCC, a member of the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association (NCJAA), is home to the Dragons. Cross country running, basketball, soccer, volleyball, tennis and track are all offered. Intercollegiate sports include men's soccer, basketball, tennis and track and field. Intramural activities include basketball and softball. The physical education complex features an Olympic-sized pool, large gymnasium and weight room.

The HCC campus is a work in progress. June 2001 saw the ground-breaking for a $20 million Instructional Laboratory Building, the first of several new structures planned for the school in the next 10 to 20 years. The master plan also includes two future projects: a $12 million visual and performing arts facility and a $26 million student services building.

When HCC opened, the town of Columbia was only three years old. Together, the two have grown and matured into vibrant cultural centers.

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