Harford Community College officials have spent years working to improve cultural diversity on campus, leaving them well prepared to honor a state mandate to create a "plan for a program of cultural diversity."

Education Article 11-406, passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2008, requires all institutions of higher education in the state to develop cultural diversity programs on campus.

Three Harford Community College administrators - Diane Resides, associate vice president for student development, Karry L. Hathaway, dean of humanities, and Bill Ekey, interim director of institutional research, planning and effectiveness – presented their proposed cultural diversity plan to the college's board of trustees Tuesday evening.

"The law is very explicit," Hathaway said.

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Hathaway said the college's Plan for Cultural Diversity must be submitted to its governing body – the Board of Trustees – "on or before" July 1, which the board will then submit to the Maryland Higher Education Commission, and a progress report must be submitted to the Higher Education Commission by August.

The plan must include a school process for reporting hate crimes committed on campus.

Ekey said the cultural diversity plan dovetails with aspects of the college's 2013-2017 Strategic Plan, approved by the board in March.

Components of the Strategic Plan include promoting "lifelong learning, global awareness and social and cultural enrichment," embracing diversity on campus, closing "attainment gaps based on income, race, gender and ethnicity" and recruiting and retaining "highly qualified, diverse employees," the proposed cultural diversity plan states.

While the college's cultural diversity efforts focus on "historically culturally disadvantaged groups," according to college President Dennis Golladay, board member John Haggerty asked what plan college officials have to even the ratio of male to female students on campus, which favors women roughly 60-40.

"There is a concern on my part here," Haggerty said. "What could we be doing better to bring these numbers closer together?"

Haggerty noted it is a recent nationwide trend, in which females outnumber males on college and university campuses.

Ekey said that, in Harford Community College's case, "to some degree that difference is a function of age."

He said the gender gap is closer among younger students age 18 and up, but the ratio favors females about 80-20 among older students.

"I suspect that's related to workplace demands and family demands," Ekey said.

Haggerty is still concerned, though.

"On a national level or the local level, I don't see anybody really doing anything to really study this phenomenon, other than to have suspicions," he said.

Board member James Valdes, who is a scientific advisor for biotechnology for the Army at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, said he has recently trained more female "post doctorates" and "graduates" than male, but it is still a challenge to recruit the same number of women as men to his field.

"It's not a matter of gender inequity, it's a matter of people going into fields they're interested in... I can hire women – and I do – but I hire the best, period," Valdes said.

The board unanimously approved the Plan for a Program of Cultural Diversity for 2013-2015.

Student honored