“This is more than a fundraiser.”
That’s what Howard County real estate developer Patrick McCuan said about an upcoming benefit on June 4 at Howard Community College (HCC) that will feature renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and author Dr. Ben Carson as the keynote speaker. The event will benefit the college’s nationally-recognized nursing program and will augment the college’s plans to expand its nursing and allied health programs.
“It’s really a gala to benefit the endowment of nursing scholarships,” said McCuan, who will host the event with his wife, Jill. “Endowments to HCC’s nursing program will help students for decades to come and all of the people that they touch.
“Our goal is to raise at least $200,000 for the endowment,” he said, noting that a crowd of more than 300 attendees is expected to attend the benefit. “We want to be sure that every qualified student can get into the program.
“People don’t really know the quality of the education going on at HCC,” McCuan said. “I am very impressed with the quality of the professors and the individualized education. It is quite unique.”
The gala dinner could hardly come at a better time, as HCC recently broke ground for a new 112,776-square-foot health sciences building that will house the nursing and allied health programs.
“We really need the new facility,” said Dr. Georgene Butler, division chair for Health Sciences and Director of Nursing. “The division has grown tremendously. We doubled our enrollment in nursing. I think that probably sparked [its construction]. We simply outgrew our space.”
HCC is the fastest growing community college in the state, with enrollments up 8% from last year. By the numbers, in the 2009–10 academic year, the college served 12,851 credit and 16,780 non-credit students.
HCC’s Health Sciences Division currently offers four clinical programs: Nursing, Cardiovascular Technology, Emergency Medical Services and Radiologic Technology. The division also provides programs in Exercise Science, Health Care for the Professional, Human Services, Aging Services Management, Athletic Training, Health Care Management, Health Education, Nutrition and Public Health.
As the Baltimore-Washington region has evolved into a center for health care and biomedical research, HCC’s nursing and allied health programs have reached a critical point. At the beginning of the 2010–11 academic year, HCC had to place more than 170 students on a waiting list for the RN and LPN programs alone.
“Our EMT program is currently housed in a trailer,” said Butler. “The cardiovascular technology program has also seen significant enrollment and is pretty much beyond our capacity.”
“We are crowded in our current facilities,” said Dr. Sharon Pierce, vice president of academic affairs. “We do not currently have the space to increase the number of students or add new programs. Health care is one of the main [economic] engines of growth in Maryland. We know that there will be jobs for our graduates.”
“We have a very diverse student population,” said Pierce. “The average age of our nursing students is 29 or 30.” She also noted that the program serves a large number of second career students and displaced homemakers.
“There are so many opportunities in health care. One of the most exciting things in the new facility will be the new simulation suites. We will have high fidelity simulations with mannequins that actually respond to the students and videotaping capabilities so the students can see how they performed.”
Baltimore design firm Ayers Saint Gross developed the plans for the new structure; Lewis Construction will serve as general contractor. HCC held groundbreaking ceremonies on Jan. 24, with construction slated to begin this spring and an expected opening during spring of 2013.
The entire project, including furniture, equipment, quad completion and site work, is projected to cost $49.2 million funded over four years, which includes $23.7 million in state funding, with $25.5 million from Howard County.
“As the demand for health services increases, this innovative facility will provide cutting-edge training and address the needs of the community that we serve,” said Kate Hetherington, HCC president. “Without the support of the state and county for this critical project, health sciences students would not be able to access the college for critical job preparation. We are very grateful.”
“It is a really impressive location,” said Hetherington. “As you drive onto campus from Little Patuxent Parkway, it will be right up front, the first thing that people will see.”
Hetherington said that the new building will anchor the future Science, Engineering and Technology quadrangle. “It will change the look of the campus and show how connected the campus is to the community.”
She characterized the new health sciences facility as “… a good investment in the future,” noting that community college students tend to stay and work where they attend school.
HCC has achieved a reputation for the quality of its nursing professionals. “Our students have a success rate of 97.3% passing the licensing examination on the first try,” said Hetherington. “That is a tribute to our high standards.”