6 Volume VI, 2012-2020
Table of Contents
Highlights of 2012-2020
Major trends 2012-2020
HCC by the Numbers
Buildings and Expansion: State of the Art New Facilities
New Programs and Innovation: Preparing the Workforce of Tomorrow
Leadership and Governance: Excellence and Experience
Faculty and Staff: Going Above and Beyond
The Student Experience at HCC
Diversity, Accessibility and Inclusion
The Arts: HCC as a Center of Cultural Excellence
HCC in the Community
The Challenges of 2020
Reflection: The Last 50 Years and the Next 50 Years
In taking on the task of adding Volume VI to the existing five volume History of Howard Community College written by Professor Vlad Marinich, I am aware that I have big shoes to fill. Vlad is one of the college’s ‘founding faculty’, and thus has unique insights into the birth and development of the college. His history is packed with detail and insight into the college history in which he himself played a significant part. I think it is also fair to say that Vlad knows everyone! On a recent walk through campus with Vlad, we were stopped so many times by faculty and staff eager to greet him and catch up with his news, that I began to wonder if we would ever reach our destination. Vlad was an institution at this institution, and his retirement in 2012 left a large hole. Perhaps it is appropriate that as one of the two new historians hired to ‘replace’ Vlad following his retirement in 2012, the task of completing his history of the college should fall to me. Although I have neither his depth of experience nor wealth of contacts, I have found great pleasure in reaching back in time to learn about the early years of the college, and reaching out across the campus to get to know the many individuals who have generously contributed their time, knowledge, and insights to this volume. I would like to thank President Kate Hetherington, Board of Trustees members Kevin Doyle, Felícita Solá-Carter and Mamie Perkins, and HCC faculty and staff Peggy Armitage, Lynn Coleman, Pam Cornell, Brian Cumer, Sarah English, Melodie Gale, Cliff Galloway, Beth Homan, Eileen Kaplan, Janet Lombard-Cullison, Valerie Lash, Betty Logan, Missy Mattey, Helen Mitchell, Cindy Nicodemus, Patti Turner, Karen Vadnais, and Laura Yoo.
In writing Volume VI, I am not going to attempt to copy Vlad’s inimitable style from the original volumes, but I will adhere to the main concept that he emphasized throughout his history: this is a history of the ‘life of the college’, rather than of larger trends and developments. As Vlad explained in Volume V:
“The reader is asked to note that the phrase, “the life of the college,” has been used a few times. This is deliberate. HCC’s history is more than legislative issues, policies, interactions between the college and various local, state and federal agencies, etc. It is about students and the everyday activities, programs, interactions, challenges, and initiatives of faculty, staff, and administrative personnel that are the life of the college, as well as the presence of HCC in the community.”
Highlights of the Years 2012-2020
In the next pages, the focus will be on the major developments that took place in the areas of expansion, innovation, leadership, the student experience, the arts, and the community in the years 2012-2020. First though, I’d like to drop in on three events which I think encapsulate the growth and achievements of HCC since 2012.
In September 2015 the college campus was abuzz with excitement at the visit of First Lady Michelle Obama. The first Lady was visiting HCC as part of her Reach Higher education initiative, which had the goal of encouraging students to pursue their education beyond High School. The visit included a panel discussion hosted by Essence, during which the First Lady, HCC President Kate Hetherington, Howard County General Hospital President Steve Snelgrove and HCC nursing student Trecya Jordan responded to questions from high school seniors. As well as Mrs. Obama, the other star of the day was the new state of the art Health Sciences Building. On a tour of the emergency medical services suite, HCC students demonstrated the advanced tools used in the classroom. The First Lady was clearly excited by what she saw, stating
“Howard Community College is one of the stars. The work that is being done here, the level of education…We went on a tour and just saw some phenomenal training” (The First Lady Encourages Local Students to ‘Reach Higher’)
Two years later, in August 2017, elected officials, trustees, donors, community leaders, faculty, staff and students gathered to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the new Science, Engineering and Technology Building. With its build room, cyber lab, drop zone and state of the art laboratory spaces, there was much excitement about what the gleaming new building would mean for STEM education at HCC, in the county, and in the state. Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman stated:
“The new SET building is just the latest example of how Howard Community College is adapting to prepare students for the needs of tomorrow. We are very fortunate to have this center of higher learning in our county.” (College Cuts Ribbon on New Future for STEM Education)
One year later, in August 2018, another large group gathered to celebrate a milestone, though this time there were fewer dignitaries and no ribbon cutting, but there was cake and ice cream. The gathering was to celebrate the news that HCC had been named a ‘Great College to Work For’ for the tenth consecutive year by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The award is given as a result of employee feedback, and recognizes excellence in the categories of facilities, workspace and security; professional/career development programs; and respect and appreciation. HCC was the only Maryland community college to win this recognition in 2018 and one of only two community colleges that have won this award for ten consecutive years. HCC President Kate Hetherington said of the award:
Ten years of the Great Colleges to Work For award is an extraordinary tribute to the faculty and staff of Howard Community College. They work every day to transform the lives of students, while also showing respect and appreciation to one another. The positive and supportive culture makes HCC a great college for faculty, staff, and students.” (A Decade of Going Strong: The Chronicle of Higher Education Names Howard Community College as Great College to Work For 10 Years in Row)
These three events, taken together, attest to an important achievement for the college. Expansion, growth and innovation have been the hallmark of the last eight years, but the college has also been able to maintain and nurture the positive and supportive culture that has characterized it since its early years.
In March 2020 another celebration will take place, when HCC will receive the Baldrige Award during a ceremony in March at the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence conference at the National Harbor, Maryland. This prestigious award recognizes another important characteristic of HCC, a strong emphasis on performance excellence. Board of Trustees chair Feli Solà-Carter sums up the achievement;
“It is an honor to serve an organization that is always striving to excel…The Baldrige Excellence Framework helps guide our quality journey, and it positions HCC for success today and into the future.” (Howard Community College Wins Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award)
Major Trends 2012-2020
HCC by the Numbers
HCC ‘s enrollment has been following national trends since 2012. Typically, an economic downturn leads to increased college enrollments, with more people needing to change or restart their careers. Upswings in the economy, with plentiful jobs available, see flattened or slightly depressed enrollment. In 2012 enrollment was still experiencing increases in response to the economic recession. The rate of growth in student numbers led to some shortages – full time faculty, classroom space and parking. Solutions were put in place, with the hiring of more full time faculty in 2012, building and expansion – the Health Science and SET buildings, and plans for new parking garages. (Board Materials 8/24/2011). 2012-2020 has seen slight dips in enrollment due to the improving economy. Total enrollment in Fall 2013 for both credit and noncredit courses was 29,424 and in Fall 2017 it was down slightly to 29,169. Credit enrollment dipped from 14,668 to 14,220 over the same period, whilst non-credit enrollment was slightly up (15,395 in Fall 2013, 15,674 in Fall 2017).
The figures for 2019 Fall Credit enrollment showed that 66% of credit students were enrolled part time, with 34% enrolled full time. More female than male credit students were enrolled (3,450 male and 5,063 female). The median age of all students was 21, with male full-time students being the youngest (median age 20) and female part-time students being the oldest (median age 23). 74% of all credit students lived in Howard County in Fall 2019. The largest transfer program was General Studies, and the largest Occupational Program was Dental Hygiene. (Mini-Profile of HCC Fall Credit Enrollment Statistics – Fall 2019)
2012-2018 saw an increase in the percentage of non-white enrollment, from 52.4% in Fall 2012 to 60.2% in Fall 2016. This increase reflects trends in the Howard County population, but diversity at HCC increased more than it did in the county during these years. By 2016 HCC was serving a more diverse student body (60.2% non-white) than the county (43.6% non-white). (Key Performance Indicator Report 2016) The college has also made progress in hiring a diverse full-time faculty and staff, with the percentage of minorities in the full time faculty rising from 23.2% in 2013 to 27.8% in 2017.
Another noticeable trend during this period was the growth in on-line enrollment, which stood at 7,004 in Fall 2012, and had grown to 11,456 on-line credit students by FY2018. (Key Performance Indicator Report 2019) HCC also saw an increase in the number of high school students enrolled in college courses, from 115 in Fall 2012 to 283 in Fall 2016. This number is historically below that of peer institutions, where the Fall 2015 average was 591 dual enrolled students, a difference that can largely be explained by the past priorities of the HCPSS, which were not focused on dual enrollment. The HCC numbers of dual enrolled students increased to 482 by Fall 2019 (Key Performance Indicator Report 2019) following the launch of the JumpStart program in Fall 2018, which promotes dual enrollment for students in selected HCPSS high schools.
Retention of all credit students according to Spring 2018 data (students returning from Fall 2017) was 69%. The 2016-17 academic year saw more than 1,300 students receiving an associate degree or certificate. Over seven years, the college’s graduation rate increased a record 92%, the highest percentage increase among all of Maryland’s 16 community colleges. (Presidents Bio)
HCC has received numerous awards since 2012. To highlight just a few, as well as the Great Colleges to Work For, which HCC was awarded for the tenth consecutive year in 2018, it was also recognized as one of the best two-year colleges for adult learners for the third consecutive year in 2018, received a 2017 Innovation of the Year Award from The League for Innovation in the Community College, and in 2014 received the National Emerging Leadership Award from the American Association of Community Colleges. In 2019 HCC won the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the category of education. The Baldrige Award is the nation’s only Presidential award for performance excellence. The 2019 win was the culmination of years of hard work and achievement. Each Baldrige site visit prompted a flurry of activity, as administrators, faculty and staff groups met with the Baldrige team to answer questions and provide feedback on how their work supports the vision and mission of the college. HCC has followed the Baldrige framework in its quest for performance excellence since 2005, and was recognized in 2017 in two categories, Category 3 (Customer) and Category 6 (Operations), and in 2018 for Category 1 (“role-model practices” in leadership). The 2019 win recognizes the colleges’ success in increasing the achievement and graduation rates, growth, and job placement.
“The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award honors Howard Community College’s shared commitment to continuous quality improvement…This commitment has resulted in the college making great strides in closing the achievement gap, increasing completion, and preparing students for the workforce. The Baldrige award is only possible because of the hard work by faculty, staff, and trustees who are dedicated to the college’s mission of providing pathways to success.” Dr. Kate Hetherington (Howard Community College Wins Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award)
Significant Gen Ed curriculum realignment took place in 2013, with a consolidation of programs and a reduction in course offerings. These changes were in response to the 2013 ‘College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act’ [Senate Bill 740]. The goal of the bill was to increase the total percentage of Marylanders holding at least an Associate’s Degree. MHEC then passed the “Maryland Ready: Maryland State Plan for Postsecondary Education 2013-2017”. This legislation called for reduced time to a degree. The Senate Bill 740 established requirements that the path to an AA or AS degree must be no more than 60 credits. Also college level Reading, Math and English courses must be included in the first 24 credits, along with any developmental courses.
To streamline Gen Ed offerings, nine Gen Ed goals were identified: Creative Process, Critical Thinking, Global Competency, Oral and Expressive Communication, Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning, Written Communication, Ethics, Information Literacy and Technological Competency. Taken together, these goals formed the new Gen Ed Core, and to complete the AA degree students were required to take a minimum of thirty credits from the Gen Ed Core. The next step was assessment: how well had students reached the established goals? Designing assessment tools that were both meaningful and sustainable has proved to be a challenge, and the assessment process has undergone some revisions in its early years, and is building on the lessons learned.
In FY 2018 the college’s sources of funding were as follows: Tuition 41%, State 19%, County 36%, Other 4%. These figures have not changed dramatically since 2012, though the County and State funding has slightly increased and the tuition funding decreased. The 2012 figures were Tuition 44%, State 16%, County 32%, and Other 8%. It is interesting to compare these figures with those from 1975, when the State and County each contributed 39% of the college’s revenues. The original model for Maryland Community College funding was to be 1/3 county, 1/3 state and 1/3 tuition. (Interview with Janet Lombard-Cullison)
The college continues to be sustained and supported by many generous donors, volunteers and sponsors. The HCC Educational Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports Howard Community College by raising funds for student scholarships and programs. 100 percent of all gifts to HCCEF funds are used to help students achieve their educational goals. Recognition societies, such as The President’s Circle and the Legacy Society, provide vital support for student scholarships and programs. In 2015 Howard County provided a $ 2.5 million Pathway Scholarship grant, with a $500,000 matching campaign. This sum was successfully matched by fundraising in 2017. In 2017 the HCC Educational Foundation raised a total of $1,574,503.
2015 saw the end of one of the college’s long standing fundraising events – it was the 28th and final year of the Grand Prix. This annual showjumping fundraiser had been held since 1988, hosted by George Doetsch, Jr. at Marama Farm and had raised in total over $ 3 million to support students and programs at HCC. However declines in revenue and attendance led to the decision to end the event. Two other longstanding fundraisers continued – Hunan Manor and Vino Scholastico. A new fundraising event was added, the HCC 5K Challenge Race. In this event the HCC campus is the racecourse, as teams representing a variety of organizations and businesses in the community run, climb, and crawl their way to the finish line. In fiscal year 2018 the HCC 5K Challenge Race, President’s Gala, Silas Craft Collegians Dinner at Hunan Manor, Vino Scholastico, and other smaller events generated gross revenue of $531,967.
Fundraising in 2017 ended in grand style on December 2 with the HCC President’s Gala, celebrating both the grand opening of the SET building, and Dr. Kate Hetherington’s 10th anniversary as president. 600 guests enjoyed a buffet dinner, dancing, and a tour of the SET building. The gala event, sponsored by BGE, raised $200,000 for student scholarships.
Buildings and Expansion: State of the Art New Facilities
The HCC campus acquired two new, beautiful, state of the art buildings between 2012-18, the Health Science Building (2013) and SET Building (2017). Two of the older buildings, N and ST received major renovations, transforming them with gleaming interiors and modern flexible classrooms.
Construction on the Health Science building began in April 2011 and was completed in the spring of 2013. The 113,000-square-foot, $49 million building, funded by county and state capital funds, features cutting edge simulation labs to allow HCC students to master the newest technologies in the health science field. Students prepare for the life-and-death situations that they will face in emergency medical services and paramedic careers, using a simulated ambulance and computerized mannequin ‘patients’ programmed to respond to procedures and treatments as a human patient would. The building was designed to provide a home for 15 allied health disciplines, including cardiovascular technology, emergency medical services, nursing, radiological technology, physical therapy assistant, and dental hygienist. This new facility allows HCC to continue to meet the growing demand for health science professionals in the states’ workforce. (Fueling the Healthcare Engine)
In 2016 the decision was made to close the Mount Airy College Center. The Mount Airy facility had been opened in 2012 by the Mid Maryland Allied Healthcare Education Consortium to provide a centralized location for students from Carroll, Frederick, and Howard Community Colleges to pursue courses in healthcare specialties that were available only at some of the campuses. Students could take courses in bioprocessing technology, health information technology, respiratory care, and emergency medical technician/paramedic, at in-county tuition rates. However, changing enrollment and financial considerations led to the decision to close the center and return the courses to their home campuses. Students from all three campuses can still access these courses at in-state tuition rates. (Future of the Mount Airy College Center for Health Education).
HCC’s most ambitious building project began with a groundbreaking ceremony in Dec, 2014 and was completed in the summer of 2017. The $76.7 million, 145,300-square –foot Science, Engineering and Technology Building [SET], was funded by county and state capital funds. STEM faculty had input on the design of the building from the very beginning. Dean Patti Turner reports that this collaborative process worked well, creating a space designed to promote learning. The building is designed so that you know it is a STEM building, and offers lots of learning opportunities (Interview with Patti Turner). The interior is designed to resemble a canyon, with curving walls and a blue ‘river’ below. A 3-story glass wall celebrates pioneers in the STEM field. Lights are shaped like molecules and magnified images of DNA decorate interior walls.
“The technology and the ability to integrate the technology you’re teaching here is cutting-edge,” Turner said. “The faculty and staff are well prepared for it and so much of their time and energy went into planning it, so they know exactly how to use the facility.” (Howard Community College ushers in fall semester with new SET building)
The new building reflects growing demand for STEM skills, nationally and locally. The Baltimore-Washington region has a high concentration of STEM jobs, and the expansion of new tech companies into Howard County and Columbia increases the demand for qualified workers. (Columbia Patch Howard Community College Cuts Ribbon On Building For Science, Engineering Technology August 21, 2017). At the groundbreaking ceremony, then HCC Board of Trustees Chair Skip Coale stated
“With the increase in demand for well trained STEM professionals, this building will ensure that students leave our doors prepared, not only for jobs of today, but also for those of tomorrow.” (Columbia Flier Nov 14, 2014).
On a bright sunny August 21st, state and local officials, HCC administrators, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate as Board of Trustees Chair Mamie Perkins cut the ribbon to open the state of the art new building. At the ceremony, Dr. Hetherington stated;
“With a central location and outstanding faculty and staff, Howard Community College has long succeeded in graduating and transferring talented science, engineering, and technology students. Adding this brand-new building has transformed our teaching, as we now have an expanded, modern space to better prepare students for in-demand careers.” (Howard Community College cuts ribbon on building for Science, Engineering and Technology.)
Visitors taking tours of the building were impressed by the modern research laboratory space and high tech facilities. An engineering big build room offers two stories of open space where students can collaborate on large scale engineering projects and an outdoor yard for students to work on drones and other aerospace designs. The building also features a new cyber- security lab, digital fabrication and 3D printing room, and greenhouse. On the roof, astronomy students can experience hands on learning using the telescope observation area. Add to this the fact that the building is designed to meet stringent environmental standards and has been awarded a 2018 LEED Gold Certification, one of the highest awards from the U.S. Green Building Council.
A fitting launch for the building took place later in the day when faculty, staff, students and families gathered to watch the solar eclipse from the lawn of the SET building. Armed with eclipse glasses and homemade pin hole viewers, over 100 people shared the excitement of the 80% eclipse. It was a big day for science at HCC!
Another new building project was much less glamorous, but just as welcome: In 2017 new parking garage construction at last solved HCC’s chronic parking problems. A shortage of parking spaces had required shuttle busses [The Dragon Wagon] to run from nearby parking lots near the Wilde Lake Village Center and the Mall, to ferry students onto campus. With the construction of the new East Parking garage Expansion, adding 750 spaces, the parking headaches were over. Parking issues would no longer be a problem raised at every Faculty Forum meeting, and students had lost a great excuse to be late to class!
The next significant building project involved the remodeling of the N and ST buildings. The N building, the original Nursing building, was one of the first buildings on campus, constructed in 1974. Renovation was completed in the early summer of 2018, providing updated spaces for a new centralized student honors commons, and new expanded office suites for for the Honors Center, Silas Craft, Faculty Development, Human Resources, Public Relations and Marketing, President’s Office, and Audiovisual Services (Board ofTrustees Report 4/26/17) The ST building dates from 1989 and was the home for science and engineering faculty and labs before the construction of the SET building, social science and teacher education, and Rouse. The renovation was completed in fall 2019 with a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the renamed Howard Hall (formerly the N building) and Academic Commons (formerly the ST building). The Academic Commons building is now home to teacher and early childhood education labs, flexible classrooms, an anthropology lab and undergraduate research space, and a mock trial room for criminal justice courses. Laura Cripps, Dean of Social Science and Teacher Education, explains:
“These spaces allow us to go deeper with our teaching and learning to engage students with a more realistic and more practical set of experiences…It will help make classes more fun and engaging for students and faculty alike.” (Learning Through Experience: New Academic Commons Classrooms Give Students Hands-On Learning)
The Galleria, Student Life, and culinary area have also been updated. The Center for Hospitality and Culinary Studies now boasts the Nicholas B. and Mary C. Mangione/Turf Valley Resort Hospitality and Culinary Suite with new classrooms and baking kitchen. (Howard Community College Celebrates New Future for Renovated Buildings, August 19th 2019, HCC News) A highlight for many is the new production kitchen and student-operated restaurant, where the HCC community have been enjoying gourmet meals and delicious baked goods all created and served by culinary students.
Student enrollment is projected to grow by 25% between 2015-2025, and the college continues to experience a space deficit. The next round of construction will provide new facilities for a Mathematics and Entrepreneurial Center and Athletics facility. Future building plans include a Plant Operations Building, Campus Hub, Continuing Education Building and facilities for Student Life. Future plans for the campus include a proposal to realign the main road through campus, relocating it to the periphery of campus to reduce “vehicular and pedestrian conflict zones”. A new ADA accessible bridge to link the North and South campus areas is also proposed. (HCC Facilities Master Plan 2015).
Anyone arriving on campus in 2020 after a twenty year absence would be stunned by the rate of growth and change they saw around them. Since 2000, when the campus was mainly low concrete buildings (CL, ST, and Nursing), five major new structures have been added (Duncan Hall, HVPA, RCF, the Health Science Building and the SET Building). The overall effect is of an attractive, vibrant and exciting campus, with the new construction complimenting the older buildings, all centered around the quad. One comment often made by visitors to the campus is that HCC “looks like a four-year school”. The campus has certainly come a long way since 1970, when, as Marinich noted in his first volume of this history, the original rectangular concrete building, standing alone in a field, was mistaken for a “facility belonging to a utilities company”.
New Programs and Innovation: Preparing the Workforce of Tomorrow
In the STEM field, innovative new courses and resources have included a new Cybersecurity emphasis, the creation of a 3D innovation hub, and the introduction of undergraduate research opportunities. In Health Sciences state of the art simulation labs allow student to prepare for real world experiences.
In the spring of 2013 HCC was named a National Center of Academic excellence in Information Assurance 2-Year Education for fulfilling rigorous cyber training requirements. The emphasis on cyber at HCC is in response to a growing job market in this field. Maryland is a hub for tech and cyber jobs, and HCC is preparing students to take advantage of these well paid job opportunities. This is also an area where earning industry certifications at HCC can prepare students for immediate entry into well-paying jobs:
“There are thousands of family-sustaining cyber security jobs for which professional certificates or an associate degree are sufficient. Even for entry-level positions in targeted occupations, median earnings average $25.43 an hour in Maryland, compared to $14.49 for all other entry-level jobs. In June 2014, the Maryland Workforce Exchange listed 747 positions related to cyber security that require an associate degree or less.” (BOT Report 5/27/15)
In 2013 a new position was created – Director of Cyber security. With the opening of the new SET building, cyber students gained a state of the art cyber lab. The number and diversity of cyber courses offered has been growing rapidly. Since 2014 HCC has received more than $1.1 million in grants to grow its cyber programs, and has seen a 26% increase in the number of students taking cyber courses between 2014-2017. (Growing the next Generation of Cyber Experts). Paul Hogan, computer science program coordinator and instructor, created the Women in Technology group to address gender imbalance in the field and encourage more women to pursue cyber. Meanwhile HCC, in partnership with the HCPSS, is attracting high school students to its programs with the creation of the Early College Cybersecurity program in 2014.
In May 2016 Dr. Hetherington led a ribbon cutting for the new 3D innovation hub, which allows faculty and students to work on projects to develop specialized models to build objects with real-life applications to their careers. This hands on experience with new technologies prepares students for future educational and workforce opportunities. Dr. Hetherington says of the 3D hub:
“It also exposes students to a technology that is changing business and encourages local companies to partner with HCC to develop innovative products in Howard County” (3D Innovation Hub Creates Student Success)
STEM students are also enjoying expanded undergraduate research opportunities in the new research lab. The lab offers state of the art new equipment, such as an atomic absorption spectrophotometer, a fluorescence microscope, and a new cell incubator. Kathy Lilly, associate professor of chemistry and co-principle investigator for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Scholarship Grant, explains:
“We’ve invested about $300,000 in new equipment for the lab. Many members of our faculty have strong research backgrounds, and now they will have the right space and tools to take their projects to the next level. We will be able to facilitate more research projects, and those projects will be more substantial and comprehensive.” (A Great Leap Forward)
In the new Health Sciences building students gain vital experience in career specific simulations as well as interprofessional simulations that include multiple healthcare disciplines. A full size state of the art ambulance simulator, complete with lights and sirens, allows students to prepare for the real life pressures they will meet in the field. Georgene Butler, Dean of Health Science, explains:
“HCC was a forerunner in simulation as one of the first nursing schools to purchase a simulator more than twenty years ago. Since that time, greater emphasis has been placed on simulation, not only in nursing, but in all of the allied health programs” (Interprofessional Simulation Prepares Students for the Real World of Health Care)
In 2016 one of HCC’s foundation board members proposed the idea for a speaker series to showcase its incredible faculty and programs. In the spring of 2018 the new lecture series was launched, featuring STEM faculty. This series is sponsored by generous donors, open to the public and consists of TED style talks, followed by refreshments and a Q and A. Each lecture was taped by Dragon Digital TV and aired on the cable channel and posted on the college YouTube channel. Talks ranged from “Revealing the Secrets Hidden in Your DNA” by biology Professor Lyudmila Bard; “The Next Big App” by associate professor of entrepreneurship Roger Weber, and Paul Hogan, instructor of computer science; and “Astronomical Doom” by Brendan Diamond, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. In the spring of 2019 three more faculty talks will be offered, this time on interdisciplinary topics.
In the fall of 2017 the Social Science Division launched a symposium in collaboration with the Howard County Public School System. High school students come to HCC for a day of talks by HCC Social Science faculty. In the fall of 2018 nearly 100 students from six Howard County public high schools attended talks on a range of topics, from history and geography talks such as The Best of Ancient Rome, The Colombian Exchange, The Material Culture of World War II, Who is Vladimir Putin? and China’s Development: Challenges and Opportunities, to sociology , psychology and economics topics such as Memories: Do they really last forever?, Race, Ethnicity and Culture: Diversity all around us and Globalization and its impact. Participants also enjoy lunch and a campus tour. The symposium exposes high school students to college level topics and gives them a taste of the range of programs available in the Social Sciences. Hanael Bianchi, Chair of History and Economics, who organized the symposium in collaboration with HCPSS administrators and faculty, explains;
“Teachers encourage first-generation students to participate, as this event is an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of what college is. It is also a way to introduce students to social sciences at a deeper level. Subjects such as psychology and sociology are topics they may not have studied before. For faculty, this event is a chance to present on areas of the social sciences where they have a real passion or interest. It is a win-win for everyone.” (Social Sciences Symposium Gives Local High School Students Glimpse into College Life.)
HCC’s Center for Entrepreneurial & Business Excellence (CEBE) continues to celebrate innovation with its bi-annual Pinnacle Entrepreneur Prize, presented in collaboration with the Pinnacle Advisory Group, Inc., Howard County Chamber of Commerce, Howard County Economic Development Authority, and Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship. In May 2017 HCC entrepreneurship students had five minutes each to pitch their innovative business ideas to a panel of judges. Winning student ideas included FlashServe, a platform to ensure the ultimate public dining experience, Kai, a business that will harness wave currents to produce energy, and Powerswap, a device that allows users to share power between mobile devices for ease in charging. (The Pinnacle Entrepreneur Prize Awarded at Howard Community College’s Spring Entrepreneurial Celebration).
Just some of the new programs and courses that have been introduced since 2012 include hybrid healthcare courses, pharmacy technician, healthcare interpreter certificate, and new Associate Degree and Technician programs in Entertainment Technology. HCC was awarded the 2017 Innovation of the Year Award by the League for Innovation in the Community College, for its virtual advising initiative, and in 2018 a new online orientation was introduced. Classrooms in the new and renovated buildings have come a long way from rows of desks facing a chalkboard. Flexible classrooms offer adaptable seating, multiple monitors, and high tech smartboards.
In other areas of innovation, HCC has been exploring the national trend towards the adoption of Open Educational Resources. The idea behind OER adoption is that it increases student access to educational resources and decreases the cost of instructional materials for students. An OER Committee was established as a grass roots faculty led initiative to explore OER adoption, and Open Howard was created in 2017. Led by David Buck, Open Howard aims to advance OER adoption at HCC by providing interested faculty with support when adopting OER for their courses. In June 2017 a well-attended OER Symposium featured speakers and a faculty panel. In June 2018 an OER Edcamp attracted over 100 attendees from ten different Maryland institutions. An OER usage report in fall 2017 showed that 22 faculty were using OER in their courses, impacting an estimated 2,183 students with an estimated saving of $105 per student (Howard Open OER Usage Report Fall 2017). OER adoption has grown rapidly since then, and in Spring 2020 courses will be designated as ZTC (Zero textbook cost) and LTC (low textbook cost) in the course catalog. ZTC sections increased from 99 to 535 between Spring 2019 and Fall 2019 (440% increase) and LTC sections increased from 36 to 227 between Spring 2019 and Fall 2019 (530% increase)(Howard Open Steering Committee Report, 2019)
In 1970 when HCC was founded, students received their information about courses and programs through printed course catalogues. Letters were sent, phone calls made (some of us are even old enough to remember these archaic forms of communication!). Fifty years has seen a huge change in how the college communicates with prospective and current students, and the college is frequently adding new platforms to maintain its competitive edge in social media. In 2007 the college joined the Facebook and Flickr trends. Original programming was developed on YouTube. In 2009 a college Twitter account was opened, and in 2014 the college adopted Instagram. By 2015 the college had 6,800 Facebook ‘Likes’, 1,952 twitter Followers, and 438 Instagram followers.
In 2015 a newly redesigned college website was launched. Research showed that the existing website had been trying to address too many audiences: “it was decided that the primary audience would be credit and noncredit prospective students, with the goal of the new website to attract and retain students by promoting the programs and services that the college has to offer”. (Board of Trustees Report 9/30/15) The new website is designed to interface better with phones and tablets. The new website received positive feedback from students, and saw a 30% increase in the number of visitors. (Board of Trustees Report 9/30/15).
Leadership and Governance: Excellence and Experience
The best words to sum up HCC’s leadership and governance between 2012 to 2020 are excellence and experience. HCC is in the hands of an experienced team that know the college well.
Kevin Doyle, chair of the Board of Trustees in 2018, has served on the Board of Trustees since 2007, the same year that Kathleen Hetherington became HCC President. Before becoming President, Dr. Hetherington served as executive vice president, capital campaign manager, and vice president of Student Services. Members of The President’s Team also have many years of experience and service at HCC. Lynn Coleman, vice president of Administration and Finance, has been a member of the Howard Community College faculty and staff since 1986. Thomas Glaser, vice president of Information Technology until his retirement in 2020, had served in that position since 2000. Cindy Peterka has served as vice president of student services at Howard Community College since 2007, and has over 35 years of administrative experience in student services. Jean Svacina became Vice President of Academic Affairs in 2017, after Sharon Pierce left the position to become the new president of Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Dr. Svacina has been a member of the Howard Community College faculty and staff since 1999 serving as the interim vice president of academic affairs, dean of English and world languages, acting division chair, associate chair, and director of English as a Second Language, full-time faculty, and adjunct faculty. (Dr. Jean Svacina). Zoe Irvin, Executive Director of Planning, Research, and Organizational Development (PROD) has been a member of the HCC faculty and staff since 1981. Linda Emmerich, Executive Associate to the President, has held administrative positions in community colleges for more than thirty years. Elizabeth Homan, Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing, has served in her position since 2014, and also has deep roots at the college as an HCC alumna.
Dr. Kathleen Hetherington became president of HCC in 2007, the college’s fourth president and the first to have earned an associate degree at a community college. Since becoming president, Dr. Hetherington has received frequent recognition for her leadership. She was selected as the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Northeast region CEO and in 2014 received the ACCT Chief Executive Officer Award, which recognizes the outstanding contributions and leadership of a community college president. In 2014 she also received the Emerging Leadership Award from the American Association of Community Colleges.
Dr. Hetherington also serves on a long list of boards and committees, including the board of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, the Howard County Economic Development Authority, and the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore. She is past president of the Maryland Council of Community College Presidents. On a national level she serves on the American Association of Community Colleges’ Commission on Public Relations Advocacy and Advancement, and as a commissioner on the Education Commission of the States. (President’s Bio, HCC website)
In 2015 Dr. Hetherington returned to her Alma Mater, the Community College of Philadelphia, to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree “in recognition of her outstanding achievements as an educator, an outstanding leader and contributor to higher education, and an alumna.” At the event, she shared her appreciation for the essential role of Community colleges:
“The college transformed my life, setting me on my career path and shaping me into the leader I am today… For many students like me, community colleges are the first choice for a college education, but community colleges are also the place where people get that rarest of things – a second chance – and it happens each and every day.” (Howard Community College President Kate Hetherington Returning to Alma Mater as Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient)
In 2018 Dr. Hetherington was selected by The Daily Record to receive its 2018 Influential Marylander Award. Dr. Hetherington’s achievements at HCC have been impressive:
“Under her leadership, Howard Community College has grown to 30,000 credit and noncredit students. Supporting this enrollment growth has resulted in more than $132 million in college facilities construction and improvements, including a new health sciences building, and a science, engineering, and technology building that opened in 2017.” (Howard Community College President Named 2018 Influential Marylander)
As president, Dr. Hetherington has also focused on increasing degree completion and transfer rates. This emphasis has led to very positive outcomes as HCC has seen its graduation rate increase by 84 percent in the last seven years. Dr. Hetherington has also prioritized the development of academic programs in high-demand fields, such as STEM and cybersecurity. Dr. Hetherington was instrumental in launching Maryland Community College Advocacy Day, which brings community colleges students to Annapolis to meet with elected officials and lobby for community college support. (Maryland’s most admired CEO’s). In a 2014 interview, Dr. Hetherington explains two other areas that have been priorities during her presidency, a clear mission for the college, and an emphasis on leadership and professional development:
“Our mission statement is the guiding light of what we do here, day in and day out,” Hetherington says. When she became president almost eight years ago, Hetherington says no one really knew what the mission statement of the college was, apart from the fact that it took up half a page in the annual report.” (3 Keys to More Effective College Leadership)
A new mission statement was needed to replace this unwieldy half page. The result was a product of the college’s planning council, and was only four words long, but summed up everything that HCC is about: “Providing pathways to success”. This is a mission statement everyone can remember!
The other priority is nurturing leadership. Programs such as the EXCEL Forum and the Professional Learning Community for Leadership reflect a focus on building leadership skills at every level. Dr. Hetherington explains:
“We want to make sure we have leaders throughout the institution, whether in plant operations, the nursing department or the mailroom – not just at the top…When people are engaged and think of themselves as leaders, it’s better for that unit, for the college and for the students.” (3 Keys to More Effective College Leadership)
The members of the Board of Trustees in 2020 were Felícita Solá-Carter, Chair; Christopher G. Marasco , Vice Chair, Kevin J. Doyle, Steven A. Joss, and Frank S. Turner. Felícita Solá-Carter joined the board after serving in leadership positions in the Social Security Administration, and established her own consulting business in 2009. Christopher G. Marasco, senior vice president with Revere Bank and long serving member on the Board of Directors of the HCC Educational Foundation, is an HCC alumnus, having started out with an associate degree in business administration from HCC, he ‘got there from here’. Kevin Doyle served two terms as board chair, having served on the Board of Trustees since 2007, and has held a variety of leadership positions as a board member, including chair, vice chair, and chair of both the board’s legislative and community relations committee and audit and finance committee. He brought to this position many years’ experience working in leadership positions for the Social Security Administration. Steven A. Joss is president of The Vertical Connection, and in 2018 he was recognized by the Lubavitch Center of Howard County with the Lamplighter Award for his community leadership. Frank S. Turner recently retired from the Maryland House of Delegates, having served from 1995 to 2019. He has won several awards for his dedication to Maryland, including the Distinguished Public Service Award from Governor Larry Hogan and the Legislative Service Award from the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. (Leadership and Governance, HCC website)
In a 2019 interview, Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Doyle characterized the major philosophical underpinning of the Board of Trustees as a belief in governance, rather than management. He emphasized “servant leadership”, with a focus on two way communication and a shared vision. Then Vice Chair Felícita Solá-Carter added that the governance of HCC is based on a culture of respect; “The best illustration of the concept of servant leadership that I have observed anywhere has been here at the college”. (Interview with Kevin Doyle, Felícita Solá-Carter, and Mamie Perkins, 2019). Mamie Perkins also noted that the Board of Trustees has become increasingly diverse and representative of the community. She noted that the trustees were mostly men when she joined the board in 2013, but have since shifted to include more women on the board. (Interview with Kevin Doyle, Felícita Solá-Carter, and Mamie Perkins, 2019)
The Commission on the Future is launched every five years, as part of HCC’s long term strategic planning process. The purpose of the commission is to help the college prepare for the future by identifying emerging issues and ideas. The commission includes more than 50 Howard County citizens, as well as HCC trustees, faculty staff and students. Each commission creates task forces to investigate selected topics, and produces recommendations for action over the next five years. Ideas generated by the commission that are endorsed by the college leadership become part of the college’s strategic plan. (Board of Trustees Report 10/28/15). In 2012-13 and 2017-18 the topics included global competency, health care, organization, partnerships, STEM, sustainability, and workforce development. Recommendations from the 207-18 Committee included establishing a global speaker series, developing a proactive employer engagement strategy for the health care sector, going “all in” on cybersecurity, developing a climate adaptation and resiliency plan, creating an Integrated Mobile, Education and Workforce Portal, and creating an ambassador program to enhance public/private partnerships and supplement student learning of soft skills. (Commission on the Future January 2018).
Student leadership, in the form of the Student Government Association, continues to give students a voice at HCC. Students in the SGA serve on the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, College Council, Commencement, Diversity, Enrollment Management, Facilities Planning, Food Service, Organizational Development, Planning Council, Renovations, Safety and Technology committees. Student leadership is also nurtured through an array of leadership programs, including the Dragon Leadership Program and the MCCADA Leadership Conference. Every year student members of the Student Program Board plan and organize a series of engaging and entertaining events.
Faculty and Staff: Going Above and Beyond
Faculty and staff at HCC continue to go ‘above and beyond’ in support of students, the college and the community. Whether through coaching, tutoring, joining a learning community, or leading a community service or study abroad program, members of the HCC community dedicate their time and energy to a wide array of activities to support student success.
One example is the Step UP program. The Step UP Program was established at HCC in 2007 and was the brainchild of members of the Developmental Education Committee. Early advocates and leaders for the program included Betty Logan, Margaret Garroway, Sue Frankel, Peggy Walton and Melodie Gale. Faculty, administrators, and staff give their time to meet with students who sign up for one on one coaching. 431 coaches have been trained since the inception of the program. In 20018/19 there were 131 coaches, of whom 16 were adjunct faculty, 20 from administration, 41 full time faculty, 41 professional technical staff, 8 support staff and 5 temporary staff. Several dedicated coaches have worked with the program for many years and have provided one on one coaching for many students. Dr. Hetherington has been with the program since its beginning, has coached many students for multiple semesters, and one student for 4 consecutive years. Other long term coaches include Lynn Coleman, Penny DeYoung, Melodie Gale, Jennifer Garner, Helen Heffer, Rick Leith, Betty Logan, Cindy Nicodemus and Jennifer Penniman (Interview with Eileen Kaplan).
Betty Logan explains that the Step UP program benefits students by providing a person who is specifically there for them. “We like to call it a “personal cheerleader”. The Step UP coach is there to listen and ask powerful questions to help the students choose their best path. Unlike anyone else in a students’ life, the Step UP coach does not have an agenda for the students – only to provide support for the students as they sort through their choices and make steps in the direction they choose.” (Interviews with Betty Logan, Cindy Nicodemus, and Melodie Gale).
On reflecting on why she became a coach, Cindy Nicodemus explains: “I chose to be a coach because I believe the program has very positive benefits for both students and coaches. When I was in college I remember feeling isolated the first year and not knowing my way around or how to access resources. For Step-Up students they have the opportunity to be connected to people that are aware of the resources and how to access them.” As Melodie Gail explains, the benefits of the program extend to the coaches, not just the students “One of the things we discovered in Step UP is that the students give as much to us as we do to them. It is a symbiotic relationship”. (Interviews with Betty Logan, Cindy Nicodemus, and Melodie Gale).
Another example of faculty and staff going ‘above and beyond’ is the participation in learning communities. Since 2001 faculty and staff at HCC have collaborated in yearlong learning communities know as Faculty Professional Learning Communities (FPLC’s). The goal of these cross-disciplinary groups is to foster a sense of community among faculty and staff from different areas and disciplines within the college. By collaborating and learning with people from other areas, the isolation into separate ‘silos’ which is often a consequence of rapid institutional growth, can be mitigated. “FPLCs aim to alleviate a sense of disconnection and isolation which can be found on many college and university campuses today.” (FPLC ).
Each FPLC allows a group of faculty to explore topics related to teaching and learning in a collaborative environment. Groups are led by one or two facilitators, but the FPLC is “group owned and democratic” forming a “community of teacher-learners” (FPLC). Six FPLC’s were offered in 2018-19: Faculty in the group “Energize, Boost, and Get Better Through Small Teaching!” facilitated by Susan Seibel and Matilda Minassian, explored “small teaching” strategies to engage students using course innovation and new teaching approaches. Another group, facilitated by Cindy Nicodemus and Stacy Korbelak asked “How Do I Handle This? Managing Challenging Classroom Situations” and together learned strategies and discussed creative solutions to help get our students there from here. The Leadership in Education group, facilitated by Jennifer Garner and Yang Yu, explored how leadership theories and strategies can be applied by educators to the benefit of students and colleagues. Resources were shared by the “Making Learning at HCC Accessible to All” group to create an equitable and accessible learning experience for students. This group was facilitated by Megan Myers and Amy Chase Martin. The “Open Classrooms: Peer-to-Peer Teaching Observations” team, facilitated by Chante D. Robertson, focused on becoming better teachers by visiting each other’s classes to observe, learn, and provide constructive feedback. Laura Yoo facilitated the group “Writing All Over Campus: Writing Education at HCC” which explored what writing means in different disciplines and professional fields. Topics discussed by FPLC’s since 2012 have included “Teaching with Poverty in Mind’, “I like Big Books; Getting Students to Read’, “Building STEAM in your class”, “Thinking Critically in a Global World’, and “Engaging Students with Social Media”. In assessing the value of the program, Laura Yoo, the coordinator of the FPLC program, says “The FPLC provides a rare opportunity for faculty and staff to meet with people across departments on a regular basis. I think combining this human connection with learning leads to not only deepened learning but also meaningful relationships on campus.” (Interview with Laura Yoo, 2019).
Every year one member of the full time faculty and one member of the adjunct faculty are named inspiring faculty of the year. These nominees stand out for their commitment to going ‘above and beyond’ in support of student success. Mark Edelen and Luda Bard are just two examples from the many outstanding faculty who have earned this recognition. The 2013-14 nominee Mark Edelen, who was then an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Science, Engineering, and Technology Division, credited a big part of his success to his division, where “I am constantly encouraged to innovate, flip a classroom, or teach a different way”. Mark encourages student learning through hands on projects such as a self-driving car that can drive around the Quad, a shoe that tracks the height of a jump, or a large scale Ferris wheel made of K’nex. Mark said that he was surprised to learn that he had won the award because “I know there are a lot of great teachers here at HCC…teachers that don’t just teach their class and go home — they really care about what they’re doing. That makes it even more of an honor to be recognized.” (Engineering Success). The Inspiring Faculty member for 2016-17 was Biology Professor Luda Bard. In 2018 Luda was also selected by The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) as a recipient of the inaugural Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty designation. This recognition is awarded to faculty at Community Colleges who demonstrate passion for the students and the classroom, a willingness to support students, inside and outside of the classroom, and who go above and beyond what is required to ensure that students are successful in their academic endeavors. (Honoring distinguished faculty).
HCC employees who go ‘above and beyond’ are recognized by the annual “Employee of the Year Awards”. This award recognizes employees for their dedication, unsung service, customer service, innovation, leadership and community service. The 2019 recipients were Aaron Alder, Brandon Bellamy, Belinda Green and Mimi Heimsoth. Bob Marietta and Andre Wright are two facilities employees who stand out for their long years of dedicated service to HCC. Well known on campus as “Safety Bob” or “Sustainable Bob”, Marietta has been instrumental in hosting GreenFest, championing the Student Environmental Clubs, Recycle Mania and Dumpster Dive, and heading up the tree planting and labeling efforts on campus. (Interview with Lynn Coleman). Andre Wright supervises environmental services, the mailroom and grounds crew.
“…when we have snow days, Andre lives on campus and drives around the streets surrounding the campus to see how safe the streets are and if it is OK to open. He is often here on weekends (just to check on things) and comes in to check on our third shift (midnight-7am) – he does not have to do that. He is truly dedicated to HCC.” (Interview with Lynn Coleman)
The Student Experience at HCC
Of the 14,220 credit students enrolled at HCC in FY 2017, 25 % attended full time and 75 % attended part time. In FY 2017, 42 % of all Howard County undergraduates attended Howard Community College. The average age of all students was 26 and they represented 104 different countries. A breakdown of Credit Student Ethnicity for the Fall of 2017 shows 36% White, 31% African American, 13% Asian and 11% Hispanic/Latino. (HCC at a Glance, 2018).
In 2013 Pathways highlighted the results of a report by Economic Modeling Specialist Intl. [EMSI] analyzing the socioeconomic impact of a college education. The results showed that college education at HCC was a sound economic investment for students. Students gained an 18.6% average rate of return on their HCC educational investment, recovering all costs in 7.8 years. EMSI concluded that “the benefits of higher education are greatest from the student perspective – offering a lifetime of higher income, better job security, increased career options, and a great return on investment”. (The Socioeconomic impact of a College Education)
As well as a great return on their investment, students at HCC also benefit from programs that enrich their lives, such as study abroad, service learning, and membership of student learning communities. These programs continued to expand their offerings in 2012-20. Two noticeable trends during this period were the increase in adult learners, and the rapid expansion of dual enrollment opportunities at HCC.
Students continued to benefit from learning outside the classroom. Service learning and study abroad programs offered opportunities to expand horizons, relate to the community, and increase global awareness. HCC student Lena Halboni, who participated in the study abroad trip to Turkey led by Sociology Professor Philip Vilardo, explained “I learned so much about other cultures, and really started to feel comfortable talking to people from other parts of the world” (Above, beyond and Outside the Classroom Walls). In 2013 study abroad trips included China, England, France, Ireland and Turkey. By 2018 offerings had expanded to include Bermuda (Science), China (Culture), Denmark (Culture), Ireland (History), and France (World War II). The newest offering in the summer of 2018 was a history trip to Italy led by History Professor Hanael Bianchi. Student Connor Delaney, who participated in Professor Fred Campbell’s study abroad trip to France to learn about World War II, shared his experiences: “Having an opportunity to learn about history through touring these historical areas and seeing artifacts with my own eyes was amazing” (Above, beyond and Outside the Classroom Walls). Starting in summer 2020 culinary students will be able to participate in the new Passport to Pastries program including a five-day intensive French baking course at Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie.
Service learning opportunities continue to give students hands on experiences that enhance their classroom learning and teach civic responsibility while also serving the community. Many courses incorporate service learning within the curriculum. Ethics in literature professor Rick Leith explains “We spend a lot of time out of the classroom, visiting sites where students can connect the real world to the issues that they are reading about” (Above, beyond and Outside the Classroom Walls). Students also participate in the Alternative Break programs, which allow students to travel to different communities to provide community service. 2018 saw ten HCC students traveling to Immokalee, Florida during winter break, where they volunteered for organizations serving migrant farm workers. In the spring ten students traveled to Chicago, where they supported local food pantries and youth programs. (Board of Trustees 4/24/18).
HCC students continue to benefit from participation in HCC’s five learning communities; Silas Craft Collegians, Rouse Scholars, Schoenbrodt Scholars, STEM Scholars, and the STEM learning community. The Rouse Scholars, Schoenbrodt Scholars and STEM Scholars are selective admission honors programs, which have been increasingly working together collaboratively since the creation of the HCC Honors Council in 2012. In 2018 all three honors programs moved towards closer collaboration under the Senior Director of Academic Engagement, Matt Van Hoose.
HCC Dragons offer students opportunities to participate in a variety of sports: The Dragons offer 11 varsity intercollegiate sports including Men and Women Cross Country (Division III), Men and Women’s Soccer (Division III), Women’s Volleyball (Division III), Men and Women Basketball (Division II), Men and Women Lacrosse (Division I), Men and Women Track & Field (Division III). In 2013 HCC’s men’s team won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. In 2017 HCC’s Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Teams won the NJCAA XX Regional Championships and advanced to the Nationals, where both teams finished second in the nation. In 2018 HCC’s men’s lacrosse program made history by securing its second consecutive Region XX Championship, and the team went on to its first-ever back-to-back Final Four appearance. (Howard Community College Advances to NJCAA National Semifinals). 2018 also saw the men’s and women’s soccer teams advance to the NJCAA Division III Soccer Championships.
In 2016 Washington monthly ranked HCC as one of the nation’s best two year colleges for adult learners. HCC ranked fourth on a list, which looked at 7000 colleges and ranked them on their service to students above the age of 25. The rankings were compiled by comparing transfer rates, program flexibility, service opportunities, percentage of students over age 25, loan repayment rate, and earnings after attending college and tuition (Howard Community College Ranks Among Top Schools for Adult Learners). The Washington Monthly rankings got the attention of the Washington Post, which in August 2016 published the article “New rankings: Never mind the Ivies, check out Howard Community College” and featured a photo of the HCC quad. The article began,
“There is not much surprise when Stanford and Harvard land atop a ranking of universities. But it is eye-catching when Howard Community College makes the top four on a national college ranking, Prince George’s Community College the top 20 and the University of the District of Columbia the top 30.”
The Washington Post article quoted Monthly Editor in Chief Paul Glastris as saying “Adult learners are the most important underserved group in higher education…They are in excess of 40 percent of all students, and yet an afterthought at most colleges… Our hope is that the schools on our list get some recognition in their markets or even nationally, and that recognition trickles down to people looking for schools.” The article also quoted Kate Hetherington: “the college strives to help adults get an excellent education at a low price. She cited new programs enabling military veterans and paramedics to use their work experience for an accelerated path to a degree in nursing. Many adults work while going to school, she said. “They’re part-time. They’re focused learners.” (New rankings: Never mind the Ivies, check out Howard Community College) In fall 2017 adult learners, defined as students 25 and up, made up 36% of credit-seeking students at HCC. These numbers reflect the demographic trend in Howard county, where the 2010 census showed over half of the county was comprised of adults aged 25-59, with the fastest growing group, the 25-44 age group, expected to see an 11% increase by 2030 (Pathways Fall 14). Pathways Fall 2014 highlighted the increasing numbers of adult learners on campus looking to “reboot, reinvent and retool” their careers. Adult learners look to HCC to help them stay competitive in their jobs, or to enter new careers. Pathways featured stories of adult learners who had found a variety of pathways to success at HCC. Anjole found a new career path through the culinary management program;
“As a military wife and mother of three young boys, I know how challenging it is to complete an education and reach your goals. HCC has been the perfect choice, with a fantastic teacher-to student ratio, financial advising and assistance, and express classes that allow me to handle a full time course load. Now I feel empowered to pursue my dreams, as well as be more of a financial asset to my family.” (Go Further, Adult Students Reboot, Reinvent and Retool their Careers)
HCC received recognition in a Baltimore Sun article in 2014 for its designation as a ‘Military Friendly School’ for the third year in a row. (HCC named Military Friendly School). Victory Media, a veteran owned organization seeking to assist service members and their families, presents this honor to colleges and universities who are doing the most to support and embrace military students. “Post-secondary institutions earning the 2016 Military Friendly® School award have exceptionally strong programs for transitioning service members and spouses,” said Daniel Nichols, chief product officer of Victory Media and Navy Reserve veteran. “Our Military Friendly® Schools are truly aligning their military programs and services with employers to help students translate military experience, skills and training into successful careers after graduation.” (New Honor and Renovated Lounge for Student Veterans). In 2016 the college renovated its veterans lounge in Duncan Hall with a grant from the Vet Center Initiative grant program. Harley Gomez, president of the Howard Community College Student Veterans Organization and veteran said of the renovation “We wanted… to create unity and synergy among the veterans, who served in various branches of the military, and I am proud that we successfully achieved our goal.” ( New Honor and Renovated Lounge for Student Veterans). Kenny Diaz, a U.S Navy veteran who signed up after high school and served for 12 years including tours in Iraq, said that he chose HCC in part because of its military friendly reputation. Addressing the audience for the HCC Veterans Day Celebration in 2015 he said “Howard Community College is by far one of the best military friendly colleges in the state of Maryland …Howard Community College helped me to conquer my fears. Without the support and encouragement from the remarkable staff, I could not have done what I have achieved today.” (Military Veteran and Howard Community College Graduate Credits College for Success)
In 2014-15 HCC was part of a statewide trend towards significant increases in dual enrollment. Dual enrollment has existed for a long time at HCC, with high school students taking one or more college credits. 2014 saw a significant increase statewide. The Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC) announced that in 2014 significantly more Maryland high school students were earning college credit before graduating high school. Dual enrollments at community colleges jumped 20% in fall 2014 compared to the prior year.” (Dual enrollment increases at Maryland Community Colleges). Dual enrollment is a growing trend as it offers benefits to both students and colleges. Students benefit from financial savings and early exposure to college level courses, and community colleges see enrollment benefits. Dual enrollment allows High school students to enroll in college courses, and has clear financial benefits for students. High School Students enrolled in the early college program at HCC earn credits towards their college degrees. “Discounted tuition, plus college credit earned in high school, can give students a head start on college and career, and can significantly improve college affordability and reduce student debt” (Dual enrollment increases at Maryland Community Colleges). But the benefits of the program are intended to be more than just financial. The goal is to increase the confidence and college readiness for students who may not have considered attending college. Research confirms that dual enrollment and early college access programs can improve academic outcomes for students who are academically-challenged, non-native English speakers or from underrepresented ethnic and economic backgrounds. (Jobs for the Future)
“Dually enrolled students, especially at-risk students, often improve high school performance, and are more likely to complete college than peers who are not dually enrolled.” (Dr. Bernie Sadusky).
Reflecting this trend, the numbers of HS students enrolled in HCC credit courses started to grow significantly. In fall 2013, HCC had 82 dually enrolled students. By fall 2016 this number had risen to 221, an increase of nearly 170 percent (Board of Trustees Report 10/26/16). In 2014 and 2015 HCC launched two Early College Programs. The Early College Cyber security program was created with support from an MHEC innovation grant. This program, launched in 2014, is open to all county high schools and offered in partnership with the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL).
With the Early College cybersecurity program, participating students are identified in the ninth grade. College course work begins in the tenth grade with a two-credit, First Year Experience (FYEX) course. College courses are taught at the ARL for students in the tenth and eleventh grades, and then high school seniors take courses full-time at HCC. By the time students complete high school, they have earned 30 credits toward their associate degree in cybersecurity, as well as valuable professional certifications. These students can earn an associate degree after one additional year at HCC. (Board of Trustees Report 10/26/16)
In 2015 a similar Early College program was launched for STEM, with college course taught at Oakland Mills High School in the tenth and eleventh grades, and twelfth graders attending college full time at HCC. In both these programs, students form a cohort, taking many of their classes together to create a collaborative learning community. (Early College Gives High School Students and Advance Start). Students in these programs graduate from high school with 30 college credits, so are in a position to earn their associate degree after just one additional year at HCC.
In 2016 the projection was that there would be 136 full time Early College students on campus by FY 20, with an additional 180 students taking classes part time while still enrolled in grades 10 and 11. (Board of Trustees Report 10/26/16). The success of these programs is projected to result in increased overall enrollment in HCC from the HCPSS. These Early College student numbers are likely to increase as a result of a new initiative, Jumpstart, which went into effect in the 2018-19 school year. Jumpstart was initiated by the then interim HCPSS superintendent Michael Martirano, as a solution to avoid redistricting of high schools within the school system. Participation in Jumpstart is open to 500 students in over-capacity high schools (Centennial, Howard and Long Reach) who transfer to under-capacity schools (Oakland Mills and River Hill). Jumpstart students will pay half the regular HCC tuition rate, and can enroll for either 30 credit or 60 credit programs. Available programs were increased to include computer science, criminal justice, entrepreneurship, general studies, secondary teaching, public health and health science. More HCPSS students will now be able to earn college credits while still in High School, a development welcomed by Cindy Perterka, vice president of student services at HCC, who described the program as offering “a fantastic alternative” for students to earn college credit instead of advanced placement courses, which feature standardized tests. “It’s good for students who maybe don’t do well on standardized tests.”(Columbia Flier, June 2, 2018).
The rapid pace with which the Jumpstart program was initiated, and the rapid expansion of HCC courses taught in the high schools, led to some concerns on the part of HCC faculty. At a meeting in May 2018, questions were raised about the impact and administration of the program. A new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between HCPSS and HCC was drawn up to clarify the roles and responsibilities of both parties, and the policies and procedures for student participation (Board of Trustees Report 5/30/2018).
Diversity, Accessibility and Inclusion
HCC continues its commitment to diversity, accessibility and inclusion. HCC’s Diversity Committee oversees diversity programs, participates in search committees and sponsors, cultural, educational and awareness events for students, faculty and staff. An annual Diversity Week is offered each spring. A sampling of offerings from Diversity Week in 2018 included: Trans 101, What is a Zoroastrian? What is a Parsee? Autism in Howard County, How do we see it? Perspectives behind the badge and a live musical theatre production ‘Tres Vidas’. The keynote speaker was John Quinones.
Two programs that received recognition in 2012-18 are Howard P.R.I.D.E. and Ambiciones. A 2014 article in the Columbia Flier explained that;
“What began as a pilot program three years ago offering math support to boost graduation rates among African-American males has become a resource and mentoring tool for any Howard Community College male of color. P.R.I.D.E. offers such support as leadership seminars, peer mentoring, college tours and tutoring.” (Howard P.R.I.D.E. members say program yields benefits in and out of classroom).
Howard P.R.I.D.E. (Purpose. Respect. Initiative. Determination. Excellence.) began with 25 students, and grew rapidly. By 2018, 170 students were participating in P.R.I.D.E. activities, with ten serving as peer leaders. The program now employs two full-time staff and many tutors. HCC student Darius Caroll Jr, credits much of his success to the program: “This program really elevated me,” said Carroll. “It gave me a support system and so many opportunities.” (A Program That Elevates: P.R.I.D.E.)
In 2018 Excelencia in Education selected HCC’s Ambiciones program as a “program to watch” “We encourage policy makers, funders, researchers, and other stakeholders committed to improving Latino student success to take note of these programs as they continue to grow an serve students in their communities and institutions” (Programs to Watch: Highlighting What Works for Latino Student Success). Ambiciones was launched in 2015 to provide resources, support and a sense of community for Hispanic/Latino students at HCC. Through Ambiciones, students can receive specialized guidance and assistance with academic advising and tutoring, mentoring and coaching, financial aid, scholarship, and work study opportunities, career counseling and internships, as well as personal counseling.(Ambiciones Program Recognized by Excelencia in Education).
Project Access and the English Language Institute continued to help students with disabilities and students for whom English is a second language successfully transition into HCC courses.
In 2014 a major initiative to increase accessibility for college education was launched; The Pathway Scholarship Fund. County Executive Ken Ulman initiated the program to help remove financial barriers that may stand in the way of success. In a presentation at HCC Ulman announced that the scholarship fund would provide for $2.5 million in new county funding that would go to the Howard Community College Educational Foundation for student scholarships, with $500,000 set aside to encourage matching grants from donors. Ulman stated:
“Education is the foundation of our community and our economy, and it is why Howard County and Maryland have an exceptional quality of life. We know where the barriers are. They are in cost. They are in time. We can remove those barriers, and we will.” (Announcing the Pathway Scholarship Fund)
In April 2018 the Maryland General Assembly passed the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarships. Low and Middle income students will be eligible for free tuition at MD community colleges, and current students close to finishing their degrees may also benefit. To be eligible for community college scholarships, students would need to enroll within two years of finishing high school or a GED, the Baltimore Sun reports, and hold a high school grade point average of at least 2.3 out of 4.0, and take at least 12 credit-hours worth of courses. Students who are single or live in single-parent families could not have a household income of more than $100,000 a year, while students who are married or live in two-parent households could not have a family income of more than $150,000.(Thousands of Maryland community college students could get free tuition under last-minute bill)
In May 2018 Governor Larry Hogan visited HCC after signing the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship Program, which will begin in academic year 2019-2020. The program will appropriate $15 million statewide among the state’s 16 community colleges to provide eligible community college students with support for tuition and fees. Governor Hogan toured the new SET building and met with students. (Governor Hogan Visits HCC Days After Signing College Promise Scholarship Bill)
In 2017 HCC took a strong stand in defense of students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program. The DACA program was established to allow undocumented individuals who arrived in the U.S. as children to contribute to the economy and society by attending college, serving in the military, or joining the workforce. Following a White House announcement that it would end the program, President Kate Hetherington joined over 700 college and university presidents and chancellors in signing the Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and Undocumented Immigrant Students. The statement reflects strong support for DACA from the colleges and universities:
“Since the advent of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, we have seen the critical benefits of this program for our students, and the highly positive impacts on our institutions and communities. DACA beneficiaries on our campuses have been exemplary student scholars and student leaders, working across campus and in the community. With DACA, our students and alumni have been able to pursue opportunities in business, education, high tech, and the non-profit sector; they have gone to medical school, law school, and graduate schools in numerous disciplines. They are actively contributing to their local communities and economies.” (Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
The signatories urge the country’s leaders to uphold, continue and expand the DACA program. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) also sent a joint letter to President Donald Trump urging him to maintain the DACA program:
“As open access institutions, community colleges serve students from all walks of life, and that diversity contributes to greater unity in the communities that we serve. It is a core part of our mission to provide opportunity to all students, and DACA helps support that mission.” (Joint Letter to President Trump)
Dr. Hetherington also signed a letter from ACE, the American Council on Education, to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, expressing concerns about the White House executive order issued on January 27, 2017. The letter states: “Our nation can only maintain its global scientific and economic leadership position if it encourages those talented people to come here to study and work.” (Letter to John F. Kelly)
HCC provided assistance and support for its students affected by DACA, providing students with information on who to contact at the college in order to receive help and guidance. In October 2017 United States Senator Ben Cardin visited HCC to meet with DACA students and express his support for the program. After meeting with students he stated:
“When I have to explain DACA in a single word, it’s ‘freedom’. I heard that so clearly today from the Dreamer students at Howard Community College, who courageously shared their personal stories of amazing accomplishment. These young people are working multiple jobs, studying hard, fulfilling their end of the bargain with the American Dream.”(U.S. Senator Cardin Visits HCC to Talk About DACA)
HCC established the Safe Zone program to provide a welcoming, supportive and safe environment for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff. Volunteers in the program complete training and display the Safe Zone Logo on their doors. Also in response to the national political controversy over the use of bathroom facilities for LGBT students, the college approved an all-gender facilities policy, which affirmed that members of the HCC community may use restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, or similarly purposed facilities consistent with their gender identity or expression. (HCC President Remains Committed to Inclusive Campus). Gender neutral bathrooms were also provided throughout the campus. HCC’s Dragon Digital Media’s created a short film, “It Gets Better,” as part of the It Gets Better Project, which is a global project with the mission of communicating hope to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world and inspiring the changes needed to make it better. The HCC film won the award for “Viewer Impact: Motivational/Inspirational” at the Accolade Global Film Competition. (HCC’s “It Gets Better” Video Shares Hope with LGBTQ Community).
The Arts: HCC as a Center of Cultural Excellence
In his memoir on Columbia at 50, Len Lazarick describes Howard Community College as “a major anchor for all the arts” in Columbia. (Lazarick 148)
In 2015 the Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, which annually welcomes over 50,000 patrons, celebrated its tenth anniversary. Valerie Lash, dean of arts and humanities, said of this milestone:
“The arts teach us how to dream. This year marks the tenth anniversary of dreams coming true in the Horowitz Center. We are celebrating a decade of creating and achieving.” (Horowitz Center Celebrates Ten Years of Creating and Achieving)
Each year at the Horowitz Center a theme is selected, with the productions, exhibits, films, concerts and lectures interpreting the theme in different ways. The 2015-2016 theme was ‘Year of the Woman’, with a focus on female artists. Janelle Broderick, Horowitz Center Director, explains:
“One reason we like choosing a theme is that it showcases the fact that one concept can be explored through many lenses…that is the beauty of housing multiple arts disciplines in one home here at the Horowitz Center.” (The Ties that Bind: Horowitz Center Inspires Collaboration with Thematic Approach)
In 2017 the Rep Stage celebrated its 25 the season at HCC. Founded in 1991, it remains today the only professional theatre in residence at a community college anywhere in the U.S, and the only one at any college in Maryland. Founded by Valerie Lash, now Dean of Arts and Sciences, Rep Stage brings high quality professional theatre to the community, often presenting regional and national premiers. It also offers the opportunity for younger talent to learn from professionals in the field. Rep Stage co-producing artistic director Joseph Ritsch explains:
“Rep Stage attracts some of the best and well known regional artists in the industry…But Rep Stage is also a place where younger actors and designers can begin their professional careers, and this is something we are very proud of.” (Rep Stage Celebrates 25 Seasons at Howard Community College).
Rep Stage has received recognition by winning numerous Helen Hayes Awards, which Valerie Lash explains, “are like the Washington area Tony’s. What the Tony’s are to Broadway, Helen Hayes Awards are to the professional theaters in the Washington area. So we are very much a respected professional theater in the region.” (Interview with Valerie Lash)
Rep Stage productions at HCC frequently receive positive attention and glowing reviews in the press. Here is just a sampling of the reviews for ‘True West’, the Sam Shephard play from the 2018 Rep Stage season:
“…stunning leads and their exceptional performances are backed up by the great direction.” (Broadwayworld.com).
“…vivid and enjoyable Rep Stage production” (Washington Post)
“…muscular staging of a salient American play” (Baltimore Sun).
“The setting is a sleepy suburban L.A. ranch-style home complete with slat-curtains and a linoleum-floor kitchen. All of it is rendered so convincingly…that a theater usher is posted at intermission to stop the curious from wandering up to see what’s in the fridge” (DC Metro Theatre Arts)
“The outcome of the brothers’ arguments may not be pretty. In sharp contrast to the story though, the outcome of the production itself is one of incredible talent and creative vision.” (MD Theatre Guide.)
As well as its Rep Stage productions, the Horowitz Center is always busy, with classical and jazz recitals, exhibits at the Rouse Company Foundation Gallery, Arts Collective productions, film festivals and more. In 2017 the Howard county Arts Council presented a Legacy in the Arts award to Howard Community College.
“Beyond its value as an academic institution, HCC draws tens of thousands of county residents, who visit its art galleries, attend Rep Stage and other performing arts in the Horowitz Center… Howard County residents expect the best of arts and culture from HCC, and HCC delivers, offering something for everyone – whether you are a student, an artist, or an audience member.” (Howard County Arts Council to Honor 2017 Howie Award Winners)
HCC in the Community
HCC contributes positively to the local economy. The 2012 EMSI study calculated that, even given strong funding for the college at the state and local level, the college actually adds more to the government budgets than it takes out. The EMSI study estimated that for every $ of support, “taxpayers see a return with a cumulative added value of $3.10 in the form of higher tax revenues and avoided social cost” (The Socioeconomic Impact of a College Education). An estimated 93% of HCC students remain in Maryland and contribute to its economic growth, and an estimated 75% remain in Howard County. Laurence Twele, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority concludes;
“Existing businesses in Howard County draw from a pool of qualified workers who support productivity and profitability. In addition, new businesses looking for a highly educated and talented workforce are more likely to locate here. HCC has a significant impact on the education level, skills, and expertise of the Howard County workforce, which in turn supports entrepreneurship and promotes economic growth.” (The Socioeconomic Impact of a College Education)
In addition to the economic benefits, HCC also enhances the quality of life in Howard County. With its wide array of offerings in the areas of continuing education and the arts, local residents look to HCC for personal enrichment and lifelong learning opportunities. The Continuing Education division plays a central role in the college’s mission to serve the community, from motorcycle safety training, adult basic education courses at the Howard County Detention Center, to training courses for the Department of Defense. Con Ed goals are to promote lifelong learning, to promote local economic development, and to generate revenue to contribute to the college’s operating budget. It supports lifelong learning from its ‘Kids on Campus’ program to its many courses addressing the specific needs of adult learners. It offers enrichment for every stage of life:
“The youngest student, a six-year-old, enrolled in “Ooo, Goo, and Stinky Too: Gross Science” and the oldest student, at 98, enrolled in “Better Health and Wellness.” (Board of Trustees Continuing Education Information Session)
Its programs serve the developmentally disabled and non-native English speakers. It promotes local economic development through its customized contract training for businesses and organizations. It generates funds towards the college’s operating budget. In fiscal year 2017 (FY17), CEWD contributed $662,265 to the college’s operating budget and/or fund balance. It also provides a bridge to credit, transitioning non-credit students into credit classes.712 students transitioned from continuing education to credit classes in FY17. (Board of Trustees Report 4/24/18)
The arts programs at HCC also contribute significantly to the quality of life for the community. This is best illustrated by a story Psychology Professor Peggy Armitage told in an interview in 2017. She was visiting Florida, taking a guided tour of a local attraction, when she struck up a conversation with another couple on the tour. They were surprised to discover they were all from Columbia. When the couple found that Peggy worked at HCC, the recognition was immediate. HCC is the reason we would never leave Columbia, they said, explaining how much they enjoyed all the theater, art and music programs, and adding that it made living in Columbia feel like living in a “college town”.
The following are just a sample of some of the ways HCC has enriched the community since 2012:
In 2012 the Music Institute [TMI] celebrated its tenth year at HCC, offering the community voice and instrument lessons, ensemble performance options, and music therapy at affordable rates. (The Music in your Community ).
In the spring of 2013 the inaugural HCC Jazz Festival offered master classes to local HCPSS students and featured an evening concert by the HCC faculty Jazz ensemble. (In the Spotlight)
In the fall of 2013 HCC hosted the first annual HoCo STEM Festival, inspiring over 500 local students and their parents with exciting science and technology related interactive exhibits. (Imaginations Soar at STEM Festival)
In the summer of 2015 the Kids on Campus program was in its 29th year of offering summer enrichment programs for children. 259 courses were offered, including robotics and engineering options, ‘Minecraft Designs’, ‘Duct Tape Art’, ‘Myth, Magic and Mayhem’ and ‘Junior Medic’.
“A lot of kids come year after year, trying new courses every summer. Some have started as students and gone on to become instructional aides, and eventually teachers. It shows that this program is leaving a legacy in our community, and I am so proud to be part of it.” Sara Baum, coordinator of lifelong learning at HCC (Kids on Campus Inspires Summertime interaction, Creativity, and Fun”)
In the fall of 2015 Con Ed classes for community members 60 years old and above continued to expand, including popular courses on the legacy of U.S Presidents, and ‘ipad masterpieces’.
“Our students have such diverse interests and our course offerings reflect that. You can come here for guidance on how to administer an estate…or learn how to paint in acrylic or oils.” Roxanne Farrar, Con Ed coordinator (A True Commitment to Lifelong Learning )
In 2016 HCC students and faculty stepped in to support the local community following the devastating floods that damaged the Ellicott City’s historic Main Street. HCC was a partner in the efforts to aid economic recovery by enhancing the online presence of Ellicott City businesses. Through the Ellicott City Project, created in the fall semester of 2016, Entrepreneurship and Computer Science students have worked with Entrepreneurship Associate Professor Roger Weber and Computer Science Instructor Paul Hogan to help 14 Ellicott City businesses, by building websites, creating e-commerce stores, and setting up social media accounts to help owners promote their businesses. (Rebuilding Ellicott City Businesses)
On February 19, 2018, dental hygiene students celebrated National Children’s Dental Health Month by hosting a free Pediatric Day. The students provided cleanings, fluoride treatments and x-rays to members of the community.
On February 15, 2018, the Center for Service Learning hosted the spring Service Learning Fair. Volunteer coordinators from many community agencies set up tables in the Galleria. Over 500 HCC students participated in service learning in the spring 2018 semester. (President’s report, Board of Trustees Materials, 3/28/18)
In 2017 the HCC campus became more physically connected to the community, with the construction of a hike/bike path linking the campus to the downtown area. Howard County’s BikeShare program officially launched in July 2017, with one of the bike station kiosks located on the quad at HCC, providing a ‘green friendly’ link between the campus and other centers in the community, including the Columbia Town Center and Lake Kittamaqundi. Riders can sign up online for yearly, monthly or one-time membership passes at $85, $15 or $2, respectively. Passes include the first 45 minutes of riding, after which riders will be charged $2 every 30 minutes. Dave Jordan, associate VP of Human Resources, often bikes to work and was enthusiastic about the new program:
“If I’m at work and I don’t have my bike with me that day, it would be easy just to hop on one and get food somewhere or run an errand,” Jordan said. “[Columbia] is a community that supports wellness, so I think it will be popular. It’s a community that’s close enough together that you can get from one place to another pretty easily.” (Howard County launches BikeShare program in Columbia)
The Challenges of 2020
HCC began 2020 in a celebratory mood. The college was planning a series of events to celebrate its 50th birthday, kicking off in spring with a picnic for the entire college, followed by a festival to showcase the college to the community, a week of fun activities for students in Spirit Week, a 1970’s style drive in movie, a gallery show with reception, and a birthday party with cake on the college’s birthday, October 12th. In addition to the 50th birthday events, HCC was to receive its Baldrige Award during a ceremony in March at the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence conference at the National Harbor, Maryland. Everything pointed to 2020 being a fun year! As events unfolded, all of these celebrations had to be postponed or cancelled, and 2020 would prove to be the most challenging year in HCC’s fifty year history.
In January word began to spread of a virus sickening the population of Wuhan, China. We watched as the city was locked down and hospitals began overflowing. By the end of January, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. The virus spread to Italy, cases started to appear in the U.S. and it was clearly spreading fast.
The Board Of Trustees February 26th minutes included the statement that “President Hetherington reported that she and president’s team had begun to educate themselves on preparedness for the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak. An HCC faculty member who is on sabbatical was in China on personal travel recently. He has returned to the United States and has been in self-quarantine.” (Board of Trustees Report 2/26/2020)
The first confirmed cases of Covid 19 in Maryland were reported in Montgomery County on March 5th, and Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in Maryland. Across the state, colleges suspended their study abroad programs, and anxiety began to grow. We didn’t know it at the time, but Wednesday, March 11th would turn out to be the last day of face to face classes for a long time. HCC made the decision to cancel classes and to move Spring Break forward to start on March 16th. By March 12th , 12 cases were reported in Maryland, and for the first time some cases could not be linked to overseas travel, indicating that Maryland was experiencing ‘community spread’ of the virus. By March 15th the first case was confirmed in Howard County and a state of emergency was declared for the county. The Board of Trustees met in an emergency session via zoom conferencing on March 18th. The meeting minutes give a good indication of the mood of uncertainty at the time.
“The college has entered an unprecedented period of disruption to its normal processes and procedures resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. Events on the local, state, and national level are evolving so rapidly that the college president is increasingly in a position to make rapid decisions to protect the health of the faculty, staff, and students, and the safety of the college. As this global pandemic crisis deepens, the time permitted to respond makes it extremely difficult to get both full board input and approval.” (Board of Trustees Report, 3/18/2020)
Emergency authorization was granted to allow president Hetherington to act quickly during the state of emergency. By March 30th Governor Hogan had issued a mandatory stay-at-home order for Maryland. We were all entering unchartered territory.
The cancellation of face to face classes and closing of the campus created an immediate set of challenges for the college. Rapid preparations had to be made for a mid-semester switch to remote teaching, which was scheduled to start by March 30th. Three days of intensive professional development on March 12th-14th were put together almost overnight thanks to the herculean efforts of the eLearning and Faculty Development/Instructional Media teams. Faculty took a crash course in online technology and teaching via zoom, especially challenging for faculty who had to grapple with teaching science labs, healthcare, dance, theatre, art ,etc. to students stuck at home. The next challenge was to ensure that all students and faculty had the technology they needed to make the switch to remote learning successful. The Laptop Loaner Initiative was a major task, distributing 446 loaner laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to students and faculty. Environmental and facilities staff stepped up to ensure the safety of the campus buildings. Meanwhile all the essential services of the college, from admissions, advising, and financial aid to disability support services, career services, and student life had to be converted to online delivery over a very short period of time. This was a hugely challenging time and the fact that the spring semester was completed successfully attests to the massive team effort that was put forth.
Longer term challenges remained, and the outlook for the fall semester was unclear. A reopening committee was tasked with creating a Recovery and Reopening Plan for the college that would align with the phases of Governor Hogan’s reopening plan for Maryland. In June the committee made the recommendation that remote instruction would continue for the fall semester, with some limited face to face classes provided for courses that would most benefit from hands on experiences and labs. As the national economy entered a major downturn and unemployment rose, the need for support for HCC students became clear. The Covid-19 Response Fund was created to help students in need of technology, food, and emergency assistance. With uncertainty over enrollment and funding, steps were taken to reduce expenses, such as a moratorium on promotions, adjunct advancement, and merit pay increases. Enrollment for the summer was up, but enrollment levels for the fall semester are still a concern at the time of writing (July 2020). However there may also be opportunities for increasing enrollment, as economic recessions typically result in increased enrollment in community colleges, and more students may consider the advantages of lower cost community colleges at a time when most courses at four year schools will be online. In a letter to the Baltimore Sun, president Hetherington highlighted these advantages.
“With so much unknown about what the future will bring, community colleges provide Maryland families with a certainty: a wonderful educational value right in your backyard (or online). For high school seniors, now is the best time to become acquainted with your local community college and begin college from the comfort of your home for a fraction of the cost.” (In These Uncertain Times, Community Colleges Remain an Attractive Educational Option).
Reflection: The Last 50 Years and the Next 50 Years
HCC opened on Monday, October 12th 1970 with 594 students and 10 full time faculty in a one building facility. Only three of the full time faculty were women. At the college’s first commencement in 1972, 36 degrees were awarded. The college did not have a computer or any dedicated space for arts. Fifty years later the college enrolled 14,444 credit students in fiscal year 2019 and 15,803 noncredit continuing education students, representing 111 different countries. It employed 1,412 employees (as of November 2017). The college occupies 14 buildings, most of which are clustered around a central quad. It offers over 130 credit and non-credit programs, and at the 48th commencement on May 24th, 2019, students earned 1,479 degrees and certificates . The college offers online and hybrid classes and state of the art high tech facilities for STEM and Health Sciences. It boasts a highly respected performing arts program and the only college based actor’s equity theatre in the country. In its first fifty years, therefore, the college has experienced phenomenal growth and change. In this concluding section, I asked long serving faculty, administrators, and members of the Board of Trustees to reflect on the first fifty years and to look ahead to the next fifty: what do they see as the most significant changes, what has not changed in terms of culture, values and mission, what challenges has growth involved, and what is their vision for HCC in its next fifty years?
Many of the changes that we see in the first fifty years reflect major changes in society since 1970. One example is the social revolution in the role of women that has taken place over fifty years. It is no coincidence that the first two HCC presidents were men, and the next two were women. The majority of leadership positions at HCC are now held by women. Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Doyle describes HCC in 2020 as a “female driven institution”, which as a result is “very well managed and reasonable”. Mamie Perkins notes that the makeup of the Board of Trustees has shifted since 2013 to include more women. (Interview with Kevin Doyle, Felícita Solá-Carter, and Mamie Perkins, 2019). Just to give one example of how far we have come, in 1971, as Marinich recounts, an HCC English Professor’s contract was not renewed because she was pregnant! Today we have a child care facility on campus, and lactation rooms are provided.
Society has also experienced a technological revolution since 1970. The introduction of new technology has led to significant changes to curriculum and instruction at HCC. In the 1970’s the college offered secretarial courses, today it offers cyber security. In 1970 students lined up outside to register for classes, today students can register for classes on their mobile phone. Dr. Hetherington sees technology as the biggest change in academia in the last fifty years “Faculty are no longer a sage on the stage, but facilitators in gathering and evaluating information” (Interview with Dr. Kate Hetherington, 2019). She also points out that technology has impacted jobs, with many low level jobs now gone. HCC has embraced new technologies and committed to preparing its students for the high tech jobs of the future through its new state of the art science and technology facilities. Classrooms are evolving to utilize new technologies, and online and hybrid courses are expanding. Technological changes have also brought challenges, as noted by Psychology professor Peggy Armitage who joined the college in 1976, “there is such a thing as too much technology”. She sees the main difference between students today compared to students in the 1970’s to be their use of phones and social media. Students are now more distracted, have higher levels of anxiety, and may be missing out on face to face interactions with their peers. (Interview with Peggy Armitage, 2018)
Another example of change has been the increasing awareness of climate change and emphasis on sustainability in the last fifty years. At HCC this has been reflected in a variety of green initiatives, many led by Bob Marietta, Environmental Health & Safety Supervisor, who has been at the college since 1979. The college was one of the first 100 schools in the country to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), committing to reduce greenhouse gasses.
“We’ve got nature trails, we have an arboretum, we have a policy where all the plants we plant are native species. The two biggest storm water projects are the restoration of the campus streams above and below the central pond. We’ve also installed rain gardens and conservation plantings to slow and filter rain water before it goes into the streams. We host GreenFest and our own Sustainability Day!” (A Q＆A with HCC’s “Sustainable Bob”)
With rapid growth have come challenges. Dr. Hetherington describes the financial challenges, as the dollar value of state and county support has eroded over time, putting more of a burden on students who are now paying a larger share of revenues, leading to efforts to ensure that the college remains affordable and accessible to all. (Interview with Dr. Kate Hetherington). Another challenge that comes with growth is that of maintaining a sense of community and personal relationships between students, faculty and advisors as the college expands. Valerie Lash, dean of Arts and Humanities, who came to the college in 1982, explains “when I first came to the college everyone knew everyone. Today we are much larger, so there have been growing pains when you get so big that you don’t know everybody.” (Interview with Valerie Lash). Peggy Armitage also notes that it is harder to maintain a sense of community, and points to the importance of learning communities, such as Rouse Scholars, and the Step Up coaching initiative, in creating a sense of belonging for students and establishing mentoring relationships between students, faculty and staff. (Interview with Peggy Armitage)
Since 1970 the makeup and needs of HCC students has also changed. On average students at HCC are younger today than they were in the 1970’s, when there were fewer students right out of high school, and many students were Vietnam veterans or adults restarting their careers. The profile of students is very different to what it was 50 years ago, notes Board Of Trustees Chair Felícita Solá-Carter, and the college will continue to respond to the changing needs of its students. 50 years ago there was no childcare on campus, no food pantry, few English as second language students and undocumented students. (Interview with Kevin Doyle, Felícita Solá-Carter, and Mamie Perkins, 2019).
Amidst these changes, many of the priorities and values of HCC have remained constant, reflecting the culture of the college since its founding. “When I first came on campus I was struck by the fact that people were extremely friendly. People wanted to help” says Dr. Hetherington, “culture here is one that is focusing on the needs of others. As president I want to ensure that we have a welcoming and supporting environment” (Interview with Dr. Kate Hetherington, 2019) Dr. Hetherington also emphasizes the college’s focus on excellence and continuous quality improvement, which reflects a culture of making decisions based on data. “Constant focus on improvement makes HCC unique. Smith was focused on outcomes within the classroom and this has continued through today” (Dr. Kate Hetherington interview, 2019). Valerie Lash emphasizes that one of the things that hasn’t changed since she came to HCC is that students remain the number one priority. “That culture of students first has not changed…We are not only high tech, we are high touch. That’s what’s wonderful about HCC, we have small classes and a faculty and staff who care”. (Interview with Valerie Lash) Innovation has also been a hallmark of the culture at HCC since the beginning, starting with President Smith’s commitment to the systems approach and the concept of “mastery learning”. Patti Turner, dean of Science, Engineering & Technology who joined the college in 1974, explains that this approach focused on creating measurable objectives and assessment, multiple modes of content delivery, and student centered learning. In the 1970’s faculty worked with full time instructional designers to create active learning experiences, and one lecture room even boasted a cutting edge ‘student response system’ allowing students to provide immediate feedback. Today that culture of promoting innovation has not changed. Turner notes “at HCC, leadership supports innovative ideas and informed risk taking”. (Interview with Patti Turner). Pam Cornell, former head of the Silas Craft Collegians program, who joined HCC in 1978, also highlights the culture of innovation at HCC. “HCC was an early adopter of a lot of ideas” she explains, and was ahead of the area four year schools in introducing on-line admissions and advising, Management by Objectives, strategic planning, and the Silas Craft Collegians program. “There is no other program like this” she explains “innovation was very much encouraged”. (Interview with Pam Cornell)
What are the expectations for the next fifty years? The college will continue to grow, and more construction will be needed. Issues of space for expansion dominate future planning. The campus is “landlocked” with little room to spread, and so all new construction must make the best use of the space available. “In fifty years we will look like New York” says Board of Trustees member Mamie Perkins, “everything will have to go up”. (Interview with Kevin Doyle, Felícita Solá-Carter, and Mamie Perkins, 2019). Dr. Hetherington expects that HCC will continue to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment in the next fifty years. “No matter who you are or what your orientation is you feel welcomed here. We are the “communities’ college” I don’t see that changing”. (Interview with Dr. Kate Hetherington). The culture and values of the college will be the same in fifty years, Hetherington explains, “Our emphasis is on student success, and that will never change”. (Hetherington, Kathleen, Howard Community College‘s focus on students will carry on). HCC will continue to innovate and will be well positioned to meet any future challenges:
“Howard Community College is on the cutting edge and will be 50 years from now…Howard Community College will remain a vibrant part of Howard County 50 years from now because the college has an entrepreneurial spirit, is agile and flexible, and uses data to influence decisions that shape what we do and what we want to be going forward…” (Hetherington, Kathleen, Howard Community College‘s focus on students will carry on)
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Ambiciones Program Recognized by Excelencia in Education, HCC News March 16, 2018
Announcing the Pathway Scholarship Fund, HCC News, May 1, 2014
A Decade of Going Strong: The Chronicle of Higher Education Names Howard Community College as Great College to Work For 10 Years in Row, HCC News, July 2018
A Great Leap Forward HCC News, May 2017
A Program That Elevates: P.R.I.D.E., HCC News, May 14, 2018
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August 21, 2017
Howard Community College Cuts Ribbon On Building For Science, Engineering Technology, Columbia Patch, August 21, 2017
Howard Community College President Kate Hetherington Returning to Alma Mater as Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient, HCC News, May 2015
Howard Community College President Named 2018 Influential Marylander, HCC News, March 2018
Howard Community College Advances to NJCAA National Semifinals, HCC News, 2018
Howard Community College Ranks Among Top Schools for Adult Learners, Columbia Patch, Sept 1, 2016
HCC at a Glance, HCC Website, 2018
HCC’s “It Gets Better” Video Shares Hope with LGBTQ Community, HCC News, January 27, 2017.
HCC named Military Friendly School, The Baltimore Sun, September 24, 2014
HCC President Remains Committed to Inclusive Campus, HCC News, March 7, 2017
Howard County Arts Council to Honor 2017 Howie Award Winners, Broadwayworld.com, March 3, 2017
Howard County launches BikeShare program in Columbia, Columbia Flier, July 6 2017
Howard Open OER Usage Report Fall 2017
Howard Open Steering Committee Report, 2019
Howard PRIDE members say program yields benefits in and out of classroom, Columbia Flier, May 27th 2014.
Honoring distinguished faculty, Community College Daily, April 25, 2019.
In the Spotlight, Pathways Volume III, Number 5, Spring 2013
Imaginations Soar at STEM Festival, Pathways Volume IV, Number 6, Fall 2013
Interprofessional Simulation Prepares Students for the Real World of Health Care, Pathways Volume VI, Number 12, Fall 2016
Interviews with Betty Logan, Cindy Nicodemus, and Melodie Gale, 2019.
Interview with Eileen Kaplan,2019
Interview with Janet Lombard-Cullison, 2019
Interview with Kevin Doyle, Felícita Solá-Carter, and Mamie Perkins, 2019
Interview with Dr. Kate Hetherington, 2019
Interview with Laura Yoo, 2019
Interview with Pam Cornell, 2019
Interview with Peggy Armitage, 2018
Interview with Patti Turner, 2019
Interview with Valerie Lash, 2019
Inspiring Faculty/Faculty Recognition, HCC Website, 2015-16
Inspiring Faculty/Faculty Recognition, HCC Website,2017-18
Inspiring Faculty/Faculty Recognition, HCC Website, 2018-19.
In These Uncertain Times, Community Colleges Remain an Attractive Educational Option, Baltimore Sun, May 5, 2020
Jobs for the Future, JFF, https: //www.jff.org/resources/page/1/
Joint Letter to President Trump, American Council on Education, August 28th, 2017
Key Performance Indicator Report, 2016, HCC Website
Key Performance Indicator Report, 2019, HCC Website
Kids on Campus Inspires Summertime interaction, Creativity, and Fun Pathways Volume V, Number 9, Spring 2015
Learning Through Experience: New Academic Commons Classrooms Give Students Hands-On Learning, HCC News, November 2019
Lazarick, Len, Columbia at 50 A Memoir of the City, 2017
Letter to John F Kelly, American Council on Education, Feb 3rd, 2017
Maryland’s most admired CEO’s, The Daily Record, 2016
Military Veteran and Howard Community College Graduate Credits College for Success, HCC News, November 11, 2016
Mini-Profile of HCC Fall Credit Enrollment Statistics – Fall 2019, PROD
New Honor and Renovated Lounge for Student Veterans, HCC News, November 16, 2016
New rankings: Never mind the Ivies, check out Howard Community College, The Washington Post, August 29, 2016
Presidents Bio, HCC Website
Programs to Watch: Highlighting What Works for Latino Student Success, Excelencia in Education February 2018
Rebuilding Ellicott City Businesses, HCC News April 2018
Rep Stage Celebrates 25 Seasons at Howard Community College, Pathways Volume VII, Number 13, Spring 2017
Sadusky, Bernie, Executive Director of MACC, HCC Press Release, July 30, 2015
Social Sciences Symposium Gives Local High School Students Glimpse into College Life, HCC News October, 2018
Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students, Pomona. edu. November 21, 2016
The First Lady Encourages Local Students to ‘Reach Higher’, Pathways Volume V, Number 10, Fall 2015
The Music in your Community, Pathways Vol II, Number 3, Spring 2012.
The Pinnacle Entrepreneur Prize Awarded at Howard Community College’s Spring Entrepreneurial Celebration, HCC News, May 2017
The Socioeconomic impact of a College Education, Pathways Volume IV, Number 6, Fall 2013
The Ties that Bind: Horowitz Center Inspires Collaboration with Thematic Approach, Pathways Vol IV, Number 8, Fall 2014
Thousands of Maryland community college students could get free tuition under last-minute bill, Baltimore Sun, April 10, 2018
3D Innovation Hub Creates Student Success, Pathways Volume VI, Number 12, Fall 2016
3 Keys to More Effective College Leadership, Emily Rogan, AACC 21st Century Center, November 19, 2014.
U.S. Senator Cardin Visits HCC to Talk About DACA Program, HCC News, October 20, 2017