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Howard Community College Celebrates New Future for Renovated Buildings

Modern Labs and Classrooms to Serve Students Studying Hospitality, Culinary, Social Sciences, Education; Expanded Facilities for Student Life, Honors, Support Programs
The ribbon cutting ceremony of the Academic Commons and Howard Hall buildings.

Columbia, MD – Howard Community College (HCC) celebrated its newly renovated Academic Commons and Howard Hall today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. At approximately 107,204 gross square feet, the two buildings feature modern classrooms, innovative laboratories, and collaborative learning spaces designed to prepare students for the workforce or transfer to four-year universities.

View photos from the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

“Academic Commons and Howard Hall will be the academic home for students preparing for future careers in the fields of hospitality, culinary, social sciences, criminal justice, and education,” said Dr. Kathleen Hetherington, president. “In these renovated facilities, students will also find vibrant student life, academic support, and enrichment opportunities to ensure they have the best Howard Community College experience.”

The features of the Academic Commons include instructional and support spaces for the social sciences and teacher education areas, including an anthropology undergraduate research lab, early childhood education and teacher labs with smart technology, and a mock trial room for criminal justice courses. Students will also benefit from hands-on learning in the Nicholas B. and Mary C. Mangione/Turf Valley Resort Hospitality and Culinary Suite with its new classrooms and baking kitchen. The suite also has a production kitchen that will provide aspiring chefs with the opportunity to cook in a future student-operated restaurant.

"As a former instructor here and a Howard County resident, I have seen first-hand how the programs at HCC impact the lives of its students and uplift all of Howard County for all of our residents," said Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford. "That is why I am so pleased to join this celebration of the new Academic Commons and Howard Hall and am proud to support this institution."

“The faces of community colleges are changing,” said Senator Clarence Lam, who serves as co-chair of the Howard County Delegation of the Maryland General Assembly. “Learners are becoming more diverse--with older adults seeking activities to enrich their perspectives, workers seeking to retool and acquire greater skills for more opportunities, and an ever increasing number of graduates enrolling from our local public schools, HCC stands ready to continue to lead the way in innovation and education in our county.”

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and Councilmember Liz Walsh, who spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, noted that the two buildings will make a positive impact on students and the broader Howard County community. Councilmember Walsh also presented a resolution on behalf of the Howard County Council.

“Howard County is a successful jurisdiction, in part, because we place special value on providing the best educational opportunities for all. We are also so fortunate to have a world-class community college that is continuously improving,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “I remain a committed partner with HCC because they foster a phenomenal learning environment and help open the world of opportunity for every student. Together, we help create the best possible future when we invest in everyone becoming their best possible selves.”

At the center of Academic Commons is the Burrill Galleria, a large open space for student events and community activities such as college fairs and the Greenfest. Just off the Galleria are expanded areas for student club meetings and programming. The Office of Student Life also manages game rooms and a movie viewing room for students. Outside the building is the Dennis Collier Student Deck, which includes a green roof covered in hardy plants and succulents.

“I see myself spending much of my time in these spaces,” said Amelia Perez-Roldan, student and vice president of the Student Government Association. “I am pleased to have such a wonderful environment to focus on my education and career and look forward to utilizing all the new resources.”

On its first floor, Howard Hall has the Nicholas B. and Mary C. Mangione/Lorien Health Systems Simulation Suite, where students training to become certified nursing assistants or seeking advanced patient care skills take courses from the college’s Continuing Education Division. The second floor boasts the Clare E. McHugh Honors Commons and offices that bring together all the college’s honors programs into one location. Among the college’s premier honors programs are the James W. Rouse Scholars for recent high school graduates and the Frederick K. Schoenbrodt Scholars, which offers a flexible honors experience for both full- and part-time students.

Additionally, Howard Hall has a large 108-seat lecture classroom, frequently used for film courses, and study areas, meeting spaces, and offices for two programs that support student success. The Silas Craft Collegians is a comprehensive academic learning community, named in honor of education pioneer Silas E. Craft, Sr., who guided the opening of Howard County’s first senior high school for African American students. Howard P.R.I.D.E. is a black male leadership development program to increase, encourage, and support the inclusion and educational success of male students of color.

The Academic Commons and Howard Hall project began in fiscal year 2015 with planning and design. Many of the academic programs previously housed in the buildings moved to the new Science, Engineering, and Technology Building when it opened in 2017. This change provided a unique opportunity for HCC to transform Academic Commons and Howard Hall to better serve the needs of faculty, staff, and students. Howard County and the state of Maryland shared the costs of the renovation, which amounted $43.4 million.

As the architect, Marshall Craft Associates collaborated with the college community on the design of the buildings. Leach Wallace served as the engineering firm for the project, and J. Vinton Schaffer was the construction manager.

Howard Hall opened in the spring of 2018, and Academic Commons was completed in July 2019. The ribbon cutting is the first celebratory event to mark the project’s completion and the opening of both buildings.

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