April 21, 1993

Come July 1, Carroll Community College will be an independent institution. While this may appear to be nothing more than a mere administrative change, independence also means for CCC a more secure financial future and more control over its curriculum and operations.

Carroll's only public institution of higher education has operated as an appendage of Catonsville Community College since its inception in 1977. As a branch of the Baltimore County system, Carroll matured into an institution of stature with about 2,000 students. It has, however, remained subservient to the budgetary pressures of no less than three governments -- the state, Carroll and Baltimore counties. The result was perennial fiscal uncertainty, which affected course offerings, hiring and general operations.

The looming budget problems for the coming year may have been the impetus for Carroll Community College gaining its independence several years ahead of schedule. As part of Catonsville Community College, Carroll would have received about $350,000 less than the $6 million operating budget for this year.

Two factors beyond the county institution's control contributed to this reduction. Faced with budgetary problems, Baltimore County has reduced its financing of its own community college system. As a result, state contributions dropped, and Carroll Community College was to suffer the consequences of those reductions. To worsen matters, trustees for the Baltimore County Community College system decided against increasing tuitions -- a decision that locked in and hamstrung Carroll Community College.

By granting the college autonomy, the Maryland Higher Education Commission is ensuring that Carroll will receive $250,000 more in state funds next year.

Aside from financial independence, Carroll will also be able to grant its own degrees to graduates. Even though the students have been educated in Carroll over the past 16 years, their degrees came from Catonsville.

With a local board of trustees, Carroll Community College will also be free to chart its own destiny. With a new $3 million library, the construction of which was just approved, the college should be able to maintain its role as one of the county's most important cultural and educational centers.

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