Two milestones marked at BCCC Goals: The community college, where continued operation was in doubt a decade ago, celebrates its 50th birthday and opens a new building.

September 19, 1997|By Karen Masterson | Karen Masterson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore City Community College celebrated two milestones yesterday -- its 50th birthday and the opening of a new life sciences building on its Liberty Heights Avenue campus.

Convocation speaker State Sen. Clarence W. Blount, a Baltimore Democrat, told an audience of roughly 500 that he wasn't going to get philosophical on why education is important. Instead, he said he wanted to talk about BCCC's progress.

"The demise of this institution was pretty close," he said, referring to the late 1980s when the col- lege was inefficient, the city of Baltimore couldn't afford to run it and the state appeared unlikely to step in and take over.

Now, after becoming the only 2-year state-supported college in Maryland, 90 percent of its graduates are getting jobs and 87 percent are working in Baltimore, according to the college.

"Ninety percent of anything is good. If I could keep 90 percent of the money I make I'd be good," he quipped.

The day on campus was filled with sunshine, brass quintets of modern jazz, a picnic birthday party and a ribbon cutting ceremony complete with the release of 50 white doves that circled overhead several times before disappearing over the trees.

BCCC's aim -- which was revised when President James D. Tschechtelin took over in 1990 -- is to "create a beacon of hope and a world-class work force in Baltimore," according to the college's mission statement.

According to former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who at- tended the ceremonies, the college is achieving its goals.

"In the late '80s, the leadership was going downhill, kids weren't learning and the city wasn't financing the school," he said. "It was a gamble on whether it was going to make it."

Now it's much more successful as an institution, he said, pointing to the new $18.5 million Life Sciences Building. One of the floors houses an institute dedicated to Schaefer.

Schaefer said the school helps many get an education when they would otherwise not be able to attend college, which rang true with the students on campus.

"I want to make a better life for myself," said LaSandra Cox, 28, of Northwest Baltimore, a single mother of three. She studies nursing while working as a nursing assistant.

Tracy Muse, 34, said: "I have to be to work at 3: 30 in the morning. I get off at noon. My first class starts at 12: 45 and my last class ends at 8: 30 at night."

With two children, she said the schedule is hard but worth it. When she's finished, she'll be trained in computer programming and repair, and able to earn a much higher income.

As for her children, they cope, she said. "Most of the time I find them piled on my bed waiting for Mommy to come home."

Pub Date: 9/19/97

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