Nearly three months after they broke ground for their Towson University in Northeastern Maryland facility, Harford Community College officials put their ceremonial shovels in the dirt again to break ground on another major classroom building.
Top college administrators and board members gathered with state and Harford County dignitaries Tuesday afternoon on the edge of property east of Thomas Run Road and near Edgewood Hall to celebrate construction of the school's Darlington Hall.
The Towson building, for which ground was broken on May 30, is under construction on the west side of Thomas Run Road.
The 51,628-square-foot, three-story Darlington Hall will house all of the community college's Nursing & Allied Health continuing education and for-credit courses.
"It's about time we give them a sterling facility that matches the quality of their programs," HCC President Dennis Golladay said.
Golladay said the building is expected to be open in time for the beginning of classes in August 2014.
The more than $17 million project is funded by state, county and private contributions.
"The support we get from you guys is amazing," Brenda Morrison, emcee for Tuesday's event, told the county and state dignitaries. "Thank you so much all that you do for us."
Morrison is also vice president of marketing, development and community relations for the college.
"We're certainly glad to be here as a partner today," State Sen. Barry Glassman said.
Glassman hails from the Darlington area of Harford County, along with County Council President Billy Boniface and Richard Norling, vice president of the college's Board of Trustees.
Glassman said later that he and his fellow Darlington officials had encouraged the college to choose the name Darlington Hall for its newest building.
The state senator spoke during Tuesday's ceremony about Darlington's history as a Quaker community and the roles its residents played in abolishing slavery in America.
He said after the ceremony that Darlington had been known as "an area of civility" even during the American Revolution, and was known for being "apart from the activities and the political leanings of the county as a whole during colonial times."
He also noted the health care field will be growing in the coming decades as the baby boomers age and technology will continue to advance, to where a patient can avoid visiting a doctor's office and interact with his or her physician through a tablet computer.
Annette Haggray, vice president for academic affairs, noted Nursing & Allied Health programs "continue to be in high demand" at Harford Community College, with about 1,900 enrolled in for-credit classes in 2012, and more than 980 enrolled in the continuing education programs.
Haggray said those enrollments are expected to increase, and by having all programs under one roof, students can have a "seamless" experience with shared facilities and technologies, and administrators of the varied programs can communicate more easily.
"If we're able to offer a seamless experience for our students, that enhances their ability to complete their degree [or certificate] in a timely way," she said.
Other speakers during Tuesday's ceremony discussed how advances in health care technology will be incorporated into Darlington Hall's learning environments, which were designed with the input of faculty and students.
"The building will support the collaborative, team-based ways of teaching and learning that is essential in health care professions," Laura Cianelli Preston, dean of Nursing & Allied Health professions, said.
The facilities include simulations of medical offices, with electronic records, and an ambulance simulator.
Zoann Parker, associate vice president for continuing education and training, said the building has been designed to "meet the needs of 2020 and beyond.
"Although this building will be open for business for the fall of 2014, I assure you it is not being designed for 2014," she said.
James Welch, chair of the Harford Community College Foundation, highlighted several contributors and long-term supporters of the college, whose names will appear in sections of Darlington Hall.
Welch acknowledged past Board of Trustees Chairman Bryan Kelly and his wife, Katherine, who have established an endowment at the college, and plan to name the lobby of Darlington Hall for Bryan Kelly's parents, Robert and Mary Ella Kelly of Darlington.
The Allied Health lab will be named for Craig Ward, president and principal of Frederick Ward Associates of Bel Air, and his wife, Terri Garland, an administrative law judge for the state.
The building's simulation suite will be named for Alena and David Schwaber, who have served on the college foundation's board and established a scholarship fund.