Harford Community College moves president's office to library, remaking Chesapeake Center as college 'front door'

Harford Community College has spent more than $400,000 to create new office space for college President Dianna Phillips and her top aides in the campus library, in addition to refurbishing other spaces for student and faculty support as part of a long-term effort to reconfigure the Bel Air campus.

The goal is to create “a warm, inviting campus and making it easy to get around the campus, and to have a welcoming and inviting front door,” HCC spokesperson Nancy Dysard said.

Dysard and Sheila Terry, assistant director for marketing and public relations, escorted an Aegis reporter through the library and the adjacent Maryland Hall to see the changes.

The total price tag for the changes is cost $440,000, which includes $305,000 to renovate part of the library’s third floor for new offices for the president and administrative staff.

The renovation money came from funds allocated in the fiscal 2018 operating budget for “deferred maintenance,” according to Dysard.

Two other projects included in the $440,000 spent involved establishing a new Learning Center for students support services, such as tutoring, on the first floor of the library and creating space for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Maryland Hall for faculty support.

The new Learning Center cost $120,000, and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, or CETL, cost $15,000, according to Dysard.

They are the initial steps of major renovation projects outlined in the college’s 10-year Facilities Master Plan approved by the Board of Trustees in January 2017 and later submitted to the state.

A proposed six-year capital improvement plan — fiscal 2018 through 2023 — included in the master plan calls for more than $47 million in renovation and new construction projects funded by the county and state.

The master plan also calls for improvements to campus roads to ease congestion and improve safety making the campus more friendly to pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit, improving parking areas and landscaping, and open space areas.

Phillips described the proposed improvements as “logical upgrades that will position our College over the next few years to become more competitive and more responsive to the needs of our students” in a message that will be in a brochure on the master plan.

Dysard provided a copy of Phillips’ message to The Aegis.

The projects outlined in the six-year capital plan are covered in the proposed fiscal 2019 capital improvement plan, which will be presented to the trustees in December, according to Dysard.

Those projects include renovations to renovating Fallston Hall ($6.55 million), he Chesapeake Center ($7.47 million), the library ($7.6 million), the student center ($3.44 million) and building a new math, engineering and technology building ($22 million), according to the proposed CIP.

President’s new office

Phillips, who was named HCC’s 10th president in 2016, moved from the Chesapeake Center off of Thomas Run Road to her new offices in the library in September.

Phillips wants to be at the “center of student life,” Dysard said.

Several top aides, along with their staff, moved with her into the new space. Some of the aides include Brenda Morrison, the chief of staff and vice president for external relations, and communications; Steven Thomas, vice president for academic affairs; and Jacqueline Jackson, vice president for student affairs and institutional effectiveness.

Fifteen people work in the “executive office suite,” according to Dysard.

The space previously included a conference room, collections room and library staff offices, Dysard said.

Morrison, who is fully settled in her office, said college officials are working to “enhance our student experience” with new facilities, collaborative learning spaces and a review of all “business processes,” such as class registration.

“The work that we're doing is absolutely focused on our students’ experience and our student success,” Morrison said.

HCC presidents going back to Claudia Chiesi, who was president from 1995 to 2004, have been housed in the Chesapeake Center. The president’s office moved from the library to Chesapeake during Chiesi’s tenure, according to Dysard.

Many students and visitors come to Chesapeake Center, which is off Thomas Run Road near the APG Federal Credit Union Arena, with questions for college staff, or to attend activities in the dining halls and theater.

Moving the president and her aides to the library frees them from that traffic, according to Dysard said. The new executive offices, as seen by The Aegis, are in a secluded part of the library, away from common areas and computer labs.

The Chesapeake Center will remain the campus’ “front door,” with the theater and dining hall. College officials have formed a committee to determine who will occupy the empty administrative offices and support the front door function, according to Dysard.

New facilities

A number of students and support staff used The Learning Center late Monday morning, either working on computers or working on their classwork with tutors.

The Learning Center relocated from Fallston Hall to library space that had been used by the information technology department. The IT department moved to the new Hickory Center, according to Dysard.

Michele MacKenzie, a learning assistant, on Monday, helped student Harrison Morris work through math problems.

MacKenzie said the new Learning Center is more accessible for students with more computers and more space for individual learning.

“There’s a million things that are a lot better,” she said.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, or CETL, is a new entity, according to Dysard.

Center staff, who moved in March, are waiting on the final pieces of state-of-the-art technology faculty members can use as they work with colleagues to review and enhance their teaching strategies, Karen Rege, director for eLearning and instructional resources, said.

“Our students are the ones that benefit, ultimately,” she said.

A grand opening is scheduled for January 2018, Rege said.

Faculty can use technology such as wall-mounted touch-screen computers, electronic pens with which they can write on the wall, a 3-D camera and “virtual, augmented and mixed reality,” according to Rege.

“This is a space for them to come and collaborate and hopefully innovate and try out new pedagogical and technological strategies,” she said.

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