When students return to Anne Arundel Community College, they may find the campus a little more crowded.
Recent high school graduates are taking advantage of lower tuition costs and transferring to four-year universities after completing two years of required English, mathand science courses at AACC.
Tuition at the community college is $44 per credit hour for county residents, $88 for residents of other Maryland counties and $176 for residents of other states.
Enrollment figures are up by about 2 percent, with about 12,500 students expected for the fall semester.
"We're pleasantly surprised," said George Raley, assistant dean of student services. "We seem to be getting a good percent of full-time first-timers. High school enrollment is down. We would be happy to break even."
While the majority of students were away for the summer, $530,000 worth of renovation work was done on campus, including replacement of the roofs on the library and administration buildings. A favorite hangout for students, the academic courtyard, is still beingrevamped.
Edgar Mallick, vice president for administration, said he expects 90 percent of the courtyard, bounded by the library, Humanities and Careers buildings, to be completed by the start of class.
The college approved a $29.9 million operating and $11 million capital budgets. The capital budget includes several major campus projects, including expansion into 65 acres of wooded property on Ritchie Highway and two new classroom buildings.
But despite winning only a small increase over last year's $29.8 million operating budget and the $1.3 million capital budget, college officials were able to move forward with a new radiologic technology department this year. The instructor for the two-year program, Thomas A. Luby, was one of nine faculty members hired this year.
The program was a response to state laws that require staffers hired after 1988 to be graduates of an accredited radiologic program or to have passed the national certifying exam.
Luby said he has received about 300 inquiries about the program. But prerequisites in college-level English, math and anatomy havelimited the fall class to 20 students.
In the classroom, located in the Careers building, students will sit through lectures, then move to the rear of the large room to begin hands-on experience in the college's X-ray training room. A phantom torso -- a transparent plastic body with human bones embedded inside -- allows students to gain experience before coming in contact with patients. Lead-lined walls will protect spectators.
"I am thoroughly excited," Luby said. "I know what I want to be accomplished in the end. My goals are high. My main concern is that students (will not only) go through the two-year program and will pass the board but will also take their responsibility seriously in dealing with patients. I want them to learn to treat each patient as a loved one."
The program is being supported by Anne Arundel Medical Center, North Arundel Hospital and St. Agnes Hospital. Students will spend two days each week at the hospitals, working with patients under the supervision of Luby and a hospital radiology staffer.
"The community wanted this," Luby said. "It will stimulate the (medical) staff working with the students and will provide a pool of future technicians for them."
Dr. Stephen Brown, chief of radiology at Anne Arundel Medical Center and part-time faculty member at the college, has agreed to serve as the program's medical director.