With all the depressing news in Baltimore education -- the on-again, off-again school and library closings, for instance -- it is refreshing that one public institution seems to be doing something right: The New Community College of Baltimore, reborn 18 months ago, last fall led the state in enrollment increases for full-time students (up 34 percent) and new students (up 42 percent). Even in a recession, NCCB is thriving.
What turned around the situation at NCCB was the state takeover of the two-year community college in 1990 from the city of Baltimore. State officials ended tenure and got rid of faculty dead wood; they set up a more sensible system of three-year faculty contracts and reviews; they closed seven low-enrollment programs but targeted six popular programs for enhancement, and they established cooperative programs with public high schools and Baltimore County community colleges.
Even when the state reneged on a $2 million aid increase, and instead cut the school's funding by $1.9 million, NCCB reacted with creativity. It found ways to reduce overhead, eliminate a mass communications program -- and balance its books without raising tuition. It was the only community college in Maryland able to accomplish that feat.