Building to help ease growing pains HCC construction to begin in July

April 25, 1993|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Harford Community College, bursting at the seams with more than 5,800 for-credit students, is scheduled to get some relief in the form of a new academic building.

Some $2 million in state money and $1.4 million in county money has been approved, and the college expects to break ground in July for its Business and Industry Training and Apprenticeship Center.

"We haven't had a major facility constructed here since the mid-1970s, although we've experienced unprecedented growth," said W. Stephen Pannill, vice president of administration and finance at HCC.

For-credit enrollment has grown by more than 23 percent in the past five years, he said.

HCC, which anticipates 10,000 for-credit students by 2000, has been lobbying for the building since 1988, he said.

Mr. Pannill said the building will increase the amount of classroom space by about 20 percent.

The building, which is expected to be completed in 1994, will be constructed off Thomas Run Road, in an open space between Joppa Hall and the Chesapeake Center.

With crowding, some for-credit students have been turned away from classes because they fill up so quickly, Mr. Pannill said.

"We have moved aggressively into offering classes in the late afternoon, and the number of students we serve on Saturday has grown by five-fold," he said.

Students at community colleges usually prefer morning or evening classes so that they can work and go to school at the same time, Mr. Pannill said.

The 32,000-square-foot building will hold the county sheriff's academy program and the four-year electrical apprenticeship program run by the Harford County Electrical Contractors Association Inc.

Both programs, which are operated as partnerships with the college, are held in the crowded Joppa Hall building on campus.

Some of the classes are held in what used to be meeting rooms or common areas, Mr. Pannill said.

One of the biggest benefits of the new building will be a criminal lab where homicide scenes can be re-created, said Lt. Don C. Baker, training administrator for the Harford County Sheriff's Department.

"Instead of just talking about a homicide scene we can make one so students get hands-on experience processing evidence," Lieutenant Baker said.

The sheriff's academy, which started in 1976, has had five locations since it moved to the college in 1989. "It will be great to have a place we can call our own and get established," Lieutenant Baker said.

About 30 recruits move through the academy each year. The school also provides 300 to 400 law enforcement officers 18 hours of education each year, Lieutenant Baker said.

He said the new building's 150-seat auditorium will help the academy tremendously because it can hold more executive and career development programs. "At Joppa Hall our largest room would hold only about 35 people," he said.

James F. LaCalle, dean of community and business services, said the new building will expand the college's ability to offer noncredit classes. The college has 13,000 to 14,000 noncredit students each year. About two-thirds take classes to improve their job performance or upgrade vocational skills, he said. The rest of the students take classes for fun.

The campus is so croweded that many noncredit classes are held in county high schools.

That works for some courses, such as floral design or teaching adults how to read. But other classes, such as advanced management seminars, are best done in a professional, college environment, Mr. LaCalle said.

He said the new auditorium will provide needed space for businesses that want the college to hold seminars for large numbers of employees.

"The college is very sensitive to what the community tells us. If a business calls up and wants to teach better reading skills to 10 employees or teach other skills to 150 employees we want to do that for them," he said.

The auditorium also will be used for one-day seminars, Mr. Pannill said.

He said the school has a meeting room in Joppa Hall that holds about 100 people and has a 365-seat theater at the Chesapeake Center.

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