Coming soon to your area: a college campus

April 30, 1992|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writer

Where is the Johns Hopkins University? In North Baltimore, of course. But also in Columbia, Scaggsville, downtown Baltimore, near Baltimore-Washington International Airport, in Washington, D.C., and Rockville.

So, where is the College of Notre Dame? Also in North Baltimore. But, coming soon to Harford County.

Throughout the state, colleges are expanding beyond their traditional borders. Ivy-covered buildings on sprawling campuses are out. Functional space convenient to professional workers is in.

The trend continued today when the University of Maryland System opened its new Downtown Baltimore Center. The center, operating out of leased space in Hopkins Plaza, will offer courses in engineering, hotel management, paralegal studies and finance. More courses are expected to follow.

The center, said University of Maryland System Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg, "is for people with tight business schedules and specific educational goals."

That is the motivation for several schools that have opened or are planning satellite campuses. Notre Dame will launch weekend courses this fall in Bel Air in conjunction with Harford Community College.

The northeast corner of the state lacks four-year-college offerings. Notre Dame was eager to help by offering degrees in nursing and business.

Of course, colleges aren't expanding to lose money. Notre Dame officials expect the Harford campus to be popular. "If it's not profitable, it will certainly pay for itself," said Ruth Lawson Walsh, a Notre Dame spokeswoman.

Perhaps the richest mine is Montgomery County, the state's most populous subdivision, which is loaded with high-tech industry and college graduates but which has no major four-year college.

Several schools are trying to fill that vacuum. Hopkins offers several courses, including liberal arts and engineering, at a county-developed campus in the Shady Grove area outside Rockville.

Next month, UM will open a 53,000-square-foot building in Montgomery where several colleges in the system will offer courses ranging from economics to computers.

Among them is the University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMAB), which raises the question, will it now be known as the Montgomery campus of the University of Maryland at Baltimore (McUMAB)? Unlikely, officials say.

Meanwhile, colleges in Washington, D.C., including American University, Georgetown University and George Washington University, have also begun offering courses in Montgomery.

"The Washington institutions are not oblivious to the opportunities that exist across the border," said Jeffrey Welsh, spokesman for the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which oversees colleges in the state.

This fall, Hopkins will expand even further into the Washington area by offering part-time graduate-level programs at its international studies school near Dupont Circle.

"So many people are constrained against going back to school full-time for degrees," said Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea. "Logistically, it's just easier for them to do it on a part-time basis. To make that easy, you have to do it where the students are."

The plan appears to be working. Some 260 people -- more than expected -- flocked to a recent open house held by Hopkins in Washington, Mr. O'Shea said.

University officials often rely on businesses for ideas about what to offer and where. For example, UM's downtown center grew out of suggestions from the Baltimore business community. One of the center's offerings, a master's degree in engineering management, was specifically suggested by the Greater Baltimore Committee, according to Elizabeth D. Blake, the center's director.

UM is also planning a mini-campus concentrating on engineering in St. Mary's County. UM officials hope to attract military people stationed in Southern Maryland.

Virtually no college is content with one campus. Loyola College, for example, offers courses in Hunt Valley and Columbia.

"Those are as 'satellite' as we want to get," said Mark Kelly, a Loyola spokesman. "You start to diffuse your resources after a while."

The University of Baltimore is considering expansion, perhaps in Hunt Valley, said Katie Ryan, a campus spokeswoman. "It's where we have to go," she said. "Everybody is doing it."

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