A school's report aiming to please

Progress: Howard Community College will tell the public tonight that most of its list of recommendations made a year ago are being implemented.

April 05, 2000|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Howard Community College officials will meet with the public tonight to give what amounts to a state-of-the-campus address -- and they think people will be impressed.

One year after community leaders recommended 148 ways to improve the Columbia campus, employees have implemented -- or are working on -- about 75 percent of the proposals.

They range from marketing the college more aggressively and planning for enrollment growth to starting a study-abroad program.

"It's not that everything was done exactly as they were suggested -- but many were," said President Mary Ellen Duncan. "We've had the perspective from community leaders, and they've helped us to focus on things that are important to the community."

Patrick Huddie, chairman of the Commission on the Future, the 54-member group that drafted the recommendations last April, will present the school's "Progress Report 2000" at 7 p.m. in Smith Theatre. Campus employees wrote the report, a point-by-point response to the commission's year-old work.

Huddie, a member of the school's board of trustees, said he is pleased by the changes and expects more to come.

"It's a continual process of self-improvement," he said. "We just have to keep moving."

Duncan said a retooled commission -- with 15 original members and about five new ones -- will meet once a year as a "board of visitors" to hear updates on how HCC is evolving to meet its recommendations.

Every three to four years, the commission will make more suggestions for improvement, she said.

"We want to truly accomplish and institutionalize a number of the projects before we take on new ones," Duncan said.

Changes that officials made in response to commission recommendations include:

Negotiating transfer agreements with several colleges and universities to make it easier for students to move on to four-year schools, including assurances that their grade point averages will be accepted.

Developing a 10- to 20-year master facilities plan that maps where and how the campus can grow, from instructional buildings to a 1,500-seat amphitheater.

Holding symposiums to determine needs that the college can address in the health care, construction and automotive industries.

Launching the college's new marketing strategy, focused around the slogan: "You Can Get There From Here."

Working with the Howard County school system to offer teacher certification training for "provisional" instructors and HCC's teacher education students.

Forming a partnership with Anne Arundel Community College so Howard Community College students can enroll in Arundel's radiologic technology program, which HCC doesn't offer.

Forming an adjunct-faculty advisory committee. Previously, part-time instructors did not have much opportunity to participate in decision-making.

Launching a study-abroad program, sending 13 students and two faculty members to Mexico for two weeks in January.

Establishing an intellectual property policy that allows faculty members who have created teaching aids or other inventions to get some of the profits. The first to benefit were Susan Bard and Mary Alice Jost, who teach biology. They developed a study guide and interactive multimedia CD-ROM program for students in Biology 101.

Hiring a person to coordinate a technology advisory board for the campus.

Setting up a welcome center on campus for students and visitors.

"Probably the most important thing they said that we weren't paying attention to to the degree we should was the whole issue of growth," said Duncan.

The campus, on 120 acres, doesn't have enough space in its buildings to meet growing demand for classes, the president said.

The master facilities plan calls for 10 new buildings, although officials are hoping to get funding for four buildings in the next 10 years.

Joan Athen, chairwoman of the board of trustees, said she is impressed by the number of recommendations that officials have tackled in one year.

"I think it's incredible, and it didn't cost anything [extra]: It's in our budget," she said. "We've really accomplished a lot. The institution refocused in many areas."

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