College's progress showcased


Howard Community College's annual progress report showcases a flurry of activity from educators, who are chipping away at a mountainous list of recommendations drafted by community leaders two years ago.

Prompted in part by advice from the activists and business people who came together as the Commission on the Future, HCC's staff started an English Language Institute for immigrants and visitors, increased the number of online classes and launched a multimillion-dollar fund-raising campaign, among other projects, in the past year.

Original and new commission members will meet tomorrow to discuss HCC's self-evaluation, called "Progress Report 2001."

Officials figure they have accomplished - in whole or in part - just under 90 percent of the 149 suggestions.

"One of the big recommendations of the commission was for the college to prepare for growth, and it certainly has done that," said commission Chairman Patrick L. Huddie, who joined the college's board of trustees shortly after the 1999 effort.

Although it highlights successes and not problems, HCC's progress report gives residents a snapshot of the campus at an extraordinarily busy time in its 30-year history.

The college - which has marketed itself more aggressively in the past few years - is in a race for more space as the student body expands. Enrollment has jumped every semester in the past year, including a 28 percent spike in the number of students enrolled for summer classes.

After years of using the same eight buildings on a 120-acre campus in Columbia, officials opened a new building in October for a much-anticipated child care center. They expect to start construction on a classroom building during the summer, if the funding comes through, and are campaigning for money to pay for several additional ones in the next decade.

Among the other activities described in the report:

A survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research last year turned up good news for the school. When asked what comes to mind when they think of a college or place for continuing education, 28 percent of county residents surveyed named HCC. That put the campus in first place - beating out the University of Maryland, College Park, which got 25 percent.

A statewide effort by community colleges - organized by HCC - resulted in a Web site that lists all the schools' business training courses. At www.maryland, employers and employees can see who is offering the courses they need, at the time they need them.

A new health care education collaboration among Howard, Carroll and Frederick community colleges allows HCC students to take certain courses at the other schools without paying out-of-county rates.

An initiative focusing extra resources on students whose high school performance did not reflect their potential got under way last fall with two dozen participants. Called the Silas Craft Collegians Program, it's designed to support a small group of students during their career at HCC.

HCC President Mary Ellen Duncan would like the commission to offer another list of recommendations in the 2002-2003 school year.

"There's still a lot to do," she said. "We don't get to rest on laurels, that's for sure."

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