With eyes toward future, Carroll Community College takes 'moment to recognize the past' after 25 years

Twenty-five years ago this year, Carroll Community College took a leap to become just that — its own college.

It was on April 14, 1993, that the Maryland Higher Education Commission approved the school as an independent college, and the first Board of Trustees appointed the late Joseph F. Shields as president. Shields died in November 2013 after a battle with cancer.


And while the college, after more than two decades, has found its place in the community and is a strong-standing institution, the process to get there wasn’t an easy journey.

"It was difficult, but it's been well worth it,” Executive Vice President of Administration Alan Schuman said.


Schuman has seen the college go from a branch of Catonsville Community College to its own organization, watching the transition unfold during more than 30 years in his position. Schuman said prior to becoming an independent college, Carroll’s campus — which sits on Old Washington Road in Westminster — didn’t exist.

A lot of research and analysis went into the decision to become an independent institution, he said.

Faye Pappalardo, Carroll Community College’s second president who retired in 2014, came to the college in 1988 as a director. President James Ball replaced Pappalardo

When she began, Pappalardo said the college was in the former Robert Moton School, where departments were housed in trailers.

"I saw the college grow,” she said, adding that she saw the whole structure come up and expand to include the nursing building, among others.

Carroll Community College President Dr. James Ball and President Emeritus Dr. Faye Pappalardo talk during an interview at the college in Westminster on Thursday, September 20, 2018.  Carroll Community College prepares to celebrate it's 25th anniversary.

Carroll saw its first graduating class as an independent college in 1994. In 1998, the Rotary Amphitheater construction was completed. Four years later, the Scott Center opened, followed by the nursing building in 2006 and the K Building in 2010.

"It's a tremendous feeling,” Pappalardo said of watching the college grow and where it is now. As president, she said, she didn’t always see the growth as it was happening, because she was focused on the moment.

“You don't realize how it's growing. You just go on, day by day, planning, looking at the future, seeing what needs to be done,” she said. "When it's finished, you have a great pride."

But it wasn’t always easy.

Schuman said there were a number of struggles in those early years, namely the fact the college had no system of its own. There was no way to keep records and no accounting system, for example, he said.

This year, Carroll Community College is celebrating its 25th year as an independent college, first having begun as a branch of Catonsville Community College. Over the years, the college has literally grown from the ground up, adding buildings, programs and students.

For a few years, the college rented from Catonsville Community College to continue using that school’s system while Carroll created its own completely from scratch — both the facilities, and the infrastructure to run the college.

And while difficult, it was a chance for the college to design systems in a way that best reflects Carroll and serves the community, he said.


For Schuman, what he remembers most fondly is the growth in the student population and the growth of the facilities to support them. When Carroll was a branch college, he said, it had hundreds of students.

“We have thousands of students now,” he added.

After 25 years, Schuman said it’s a wonderful time to take a moment and celebrate the decades of accomplishment. But, he said, eyes remain on the future.

"It's just a midpoint. The future is developing every day,” he said. "So while we take a moment to recognize the past, the real challenge is what are we going to do tomorrow?"

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