Seventy-one years ago, Hagerstown Junior College started as the first of its kind in Maryland. Classes began on September 18, 1946, in the evenings, at Hagerstown High School, and most of the students attended on the G.I. Bill. In 1948, the first graduation ceremony was held and 25 students received degrees. Since then, more than 150,000 students have taken advantage of HCC’s value in getting a quality education at an affordable cost.
From its humble beginnings in 1946, and despite early community sentiment that was not overly supportive of higher education, the college grew and flourished. In 1956, HJC, which was then a part of the Board of Education, got its own location in what was affectionately called the “Cracker Box” on the campus of South Hagerstown High School. As enrollment continued to increase, plans were made to find a suitable location to accommodate the growth, and in 1965, ground was broken on land that is now home to the thriving campus on Robinwood Drive. The first classes were held at the new location in September of 1966, with 782 students.
Since that time, the college has continued to grow, in the number of students, faculty and staff, and programs offered. Guy Altieri has served as the third president of the college, following in the steps of Norman Shea, who served from 1986 to 2002, and Atlee Kepler, who was appointed dean of the college in 1953 and president in 1961.
In 1998, the name was changed from Hagerstown Junior College to Hagerstown Community College to more accurately reflect the mission it serves. The current campus has grown to 319 acres with 18 buildings. More than 100 programs of study are now offered. Each year, more than 6,000 students take classes for college credit and more than 7,000 students take continuing education classes.
The college is served by a seven-member board, appointed by the governor, which provides direction and oversight for the development of college policy. The college annual operating budget ($34 million in FY18) is comprised of approximately 28 percent county support, 26 percent state support, and 45 percent from student tuition. HCC has been awarded more than $12.9 million in competitive grants in the last five years, of which over $7 million has supported STEMM programs. Significant grants have come from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Labor. The HCC Foundation has more than $12 million in assets and provides approximately $500,000 in scholarship dollars each year.
HCC leads the state in the number of high school students enrolled at a Maryland community college. Nearly 900 high school students take classes each year through the ESSENCE Program and the STEMM Technical Middle College.
The growth of STEM programs has given HCC a strong reputation for quality instruction in emerging hi-tech fields such as biotechnology, alternative energy technology, advanced manufacturing, and cybersecurity, which is supported by a National Science Foundation grant and a partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute.
HCC recently started the Promise Pathway Program, a special initiative designed to address the financial barriers of local students who have the academic readiness to succeed in college, but lack the financial resources to do so. The ultimate goal of the program is to increase the number of people in the county who have some post-secondary education.
With the continued growth of its academic programs, campus development, business and entrepreneurial efforts, and commitment to helping make college accessible to all, Hagerstown Community College stands poised and ready to serve the next generation of learners and continue to be a leader in the economic development of the region.