Most graduations signal a beginning. But for the tiny radiology class at Harbor Hospital Center, Friday's ceremony marked the end.
When the six students received their diplomas, hospital administrators brushed away tears along with the parents.
The 37th class was the last to graduate from Harbor Hospital's School of Radiologic Technology. Faced with a shortage of instructors and competition from nearby community colleges, the Baltimore hospitalis closing its radiology school.
"It's a loss when you close any education program, but we're trying to make the best of it," said Nancy Kraft, vice president of medical support services.
Kraft presented the diplomas Friday to six students from Baltimore and Anne Arundel County, including Cynthia McGill of Severn and Tabitha Bayne of Millersville.
A former president of Harbor Hospital opened the radiology school in 1954 when his daughter expressed interest in the new field. The hospital was on Light Street then, said spokeswoman Jackie Breedan.
Herman L. Gruehn founded the program and was instrumentalin moving the hospital in 1968 to its current location just outside Brooklyn Park. His daughter, Janet Geiger, was the first student to receive a degree in radiology.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the program drew students from throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area, Breedan said.
While interest in the two-year training remained strong in the 1980s, the hospital faced more competition from nearby community colleges, she said.
Anne Arundel Community College is one of many that expanded their medical programs to offer technical trainingin fields like radiology.
The hospital also struggled to find a replacement for Linda Borga Caplis, who ended her 12-year directorshipof the radiology program to take a position with Essex Community College. Hospital officials decided to close the program after she announced she was leaving at the end of the term, Kraft said.
"Basically, it's been very difficult to find qualified directors and instructors," Kraft said. "There's a real shortage in this area."
The school has graduated more than 200 students with degrees in radiology. Thelast six received their diplomas and pins at the hospital's Herman L. Gruehn Building, named after the first president.