HCC slow to move toward 4-year degrees

School's president tells lawmakers of limited talks

November 09, 2003|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Harford Community College has made only slight progress this year in its efforts to offer students four-year baccalaureate degrees in limited fields of education, according to the school's president.

In answer to a question from Del. Mary-Dulany James, a District 34A Democrat, Claudia E. Chiesi, president of HCC, said she has had limited conversations this year with three schools in the state regarding help with setting up four-year degree programs in the county.

Chiesi was attending an all-day pre-session legislative conference at HCC on Wednesday. The session was held by the county legislative delegation to give county officials and the public the opportunity to say what they wanted from the 90-day General Assembly session that starts in January.

James said that when the House Ways and Means Committee killed a bill during this year's session that would have allowed HCC to offer four-year degree programs, committee Chairwoman Sheila E. Hixson, a Montgomery County Democrat, strongly encouraged other schools in the state to assist HCC with meeting the needs of its students.

"Where are we in that process?" James asked Chiesi.

"If Chairwoman Hixson were here," Chiesi responded, "I would have to say she does not have the progress she sought."

Chiesi said that there have been conversations with the University of Maryland University College but that they were primarily about offering online classes. "Many of our students want a teacher before them."

She said there have been limited conversations with the University of Baltimore and Coppin State College.

Deborah Cruise, vice president of student development at HCC, said the school has just reached an agreement with the University of Maryland University College to start online classes next fall. "They are trying to work with us," she said.

Chiesi said there would be a survey of students again this year to gauge the interest in four-year degree programs. She said that if 200 or 250 students express an interest in such classes, the college would again seek legislative approval to offer classes leading to a baccalaureate degree.

Harford County does not have a four-year degree school, and county business leaders want this to change.

William B. Seccurro, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Harford County, said there is a shortage of skilled workers with four-year degrees in the county.

He said that the county's population has risen to about 250,000 and that there is an increasing need for advanced education programs.

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