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A National Model for a Community College

August 2014

Dennis Golladay, Ph.D., President, Harford Community College

Dennis Golladay says he sees Harford Community College being the community center for not just higher education, but also arts and workforce development.

Dennis Golladay says he sees Harford Community College being the community center for not just higher education, but also arts and workforce development.

What do Walter Anderson, editor of “Parade Magazine,” Nolan Archibald, CEO of Black & Decker Corporation, and Edwin Hale, former chairman and CEO of First Mariner Bank, all have in common? According to the American Association of Community Colleges, they are all alumni of community colleges. In fact, 45 percent of all undergraduates in the United States were enrolled in community colleges in the fall of 2012. Additionally, in 2012 alone, the net total impact of community colleges on the U.S. economy was $809 billion in added income, equal to more than five percent of GDP, according to the AACC.

Nationally, the total number of associate’s degrees conferred is expected to increase 49 percent between 2010-11 and 2022-23, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Locally, the Maryland Higher Education Commission is projecting an average community college enrollment increase of 19 percent between 2013 and 2023, with Harford Community College expected to see an increase of 23 percent in that same time period.

With all signs pointing to the continuing importance of community colleges, I95 BUSINESS recently sat down with Dennis Golladay, Ph.D., president of Harford Community College, to discuss his take on how HCC impacts not just the local educational climate, but business as well.

National Leader, Community Focus
A Virginia native, Dr. Golladay has spent more than 40 years working in community colleges. (Previous posts include Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges at State University of New York (SUNY), President of Cayuga Community College in Auburn, N.Y., Vice President for Academic Affairs at Anne Arundel Community College and Dean of the School of Humanities at Pensacola Junior College in Florida.)

His decades of experience give Golladay a unique perspective on the impact and value of community colleges. For instance, while HCC’s formal vision statement calls for the school to become a national higher education leader, Golladay says he sees the college as being the community center for not just higher education, but also arts and workforce development. “The idea is that this college is going to be so vital to the community that the community will understand that its success depends on the college’s role. I used to pose the question to myself in several places I’ve been: what would the community be like without us? Approaching that question gives you an idea of the tremendous opportunities the college brings to the community as a resource and a leader in workforce development and economic development.”

Challenging Opportunities
While most people would think increasing enrollment is a positive for the college, Golladay says it has presented significant challenges as well as opportunities. For instance, at the same time as the nation’s economic slump from 2008-2014, enrollment zoomed 25 percent – yet HCC had to accommodate that growth without any increase in plant size or funding.

Funding is an ongoing challenge for the college, which as a publicly-funded organization is subject to the discretion of state and local officials and to fluctuations in tax revenue. Golladay elaborates, “With the nation in downturn since 2008, revenues coming into the state and county were not as great as they had been, so they in turn could not support institutions such as colleges as much as they would have liked. That’s all understandable. I’m hoping with the economy beginning to pick up a little bit, we will be able to start to climb back to where the county and state would like to be in supporting us.”

Golladay also cites as another challenge – and opportunity – enlarging the college’s role in workforce development. By strategically increasing enrollment in programs designed to have as large an impact as possible upon the community, Golladay believes HCC can ultimately positively impact the economic well-being of the region.

Business Partnerships
According to Golladay, private businesses play a very important role in HCC’s success. He cites two primary ways companies can work with the college: first and foremost, through partnerships such as training or apprenticeship programs such as the college’s popular and long-standing electrician’s apprenticeship program, but also through the HCC Foundation to which companies can contribute to help with student scholarships and special projects.

HCC is particularly interested in partners in certain industries, such as cyber security, additive manufacturing/3D printing and healthcare. Hospitals, nursing homes and radiology labs need more and more workers because the industry is growing so rapidly, while programs in nursing and allied health are inherently more expensive to offer.

In January, HCC will be opening its new state-of-the-art nursing/allied health building, in part due to the support of generous donors, individuals and companies. These donations support high-tech equipment, including simulated men, women and babies that can be programmed to spike temperatures or have elevated heartbeats during training simulations. The entire process is videotaped so teachers and students can analyze their performance and what did and didn’t go well. “As we say in the south, ‘it’s neater than grits,’” Golladay quips, but then adds on a more serious note, “It’s costly, but we have to have it to be able to send students into the workforce knowing the latest equipment and conditions.”

Golladay says there is one other key requirement to offering all these programs – having an excellent faculty. “And we do. I’m very proud of who they are and what they do – they serve our students extremely well.” Golladay says working as faculty is another way businesses can help.

Finally, Golladay points out HCC works closely with the Harford County Office of Economic Development and operates a Small Business Development Center on campus. “We are primed to work with businesses; we want to work with businesses. We hope they contact us so we can work out what we can do for them,” he says.

A “Complete Higher Ed Package”
Golladay points out that this region is the only one in the state that does not have a four-year university. For years, that option seemed to be out of the question due to a lack of funds. But Golladay says a collaboration of people on different task forces have led to the finishing touches being put on the new Towson University building “across Thomas Run Road” where students from the two-year colleges in the area (HCC and Cecil College) can get their four-year degree seamlessly.

He also calls the addition of University Center “one of the most impressive aspects about the college. We don’t offer any classes there; instead what we do is manage it and act as a higher ed broker.” Currently University Center is home to seven master’s degree programs through cooperative arrangements with other universities and colleges and is looking to expand that number. “We especially want to have more programs that will be in demand by APG and related defense industries, such as supply chain management, biotechnology and bioengineering,” says Golladay.

The final step of the puzzle would be a local university research park, which is still in the conceptual phase but ultimately could offer doctoral programs. “What’s taking shape is a complete higher ed package in various segments and sectors. The vision is that residents of this region could start their college education at HCC or Cecil College, then go on to get their baccalaureate, master’s, research and doctoral degrees without having to leave the region,” says Golladay, who serves on the Northeast Maryland Higher Education Board but points out HCC will not be directly affiliated with the project.

“It’s a very exciting period of time for higher education in this county. There are a lot of things going on I think can have a transformative impact,” Golladay adds.

Part of All the Discussions
In additional to the Northeast Maryland Higher Education Board, Golladay sits on the boards of the Harford County Economic Development Commission Advisory Board, Northeast Maryland Technology Council Board of Directors and the Greater Baltimore Committee President’s Advisory Council. Golladay says it’s all part of his job to be a representative of the college in all these efforts. “Whether we are talking about GBC or the higher ed advisory board, we need to be involved because we have a lot to offer and they have a lot to offer us. We need to be a part of all the discussions that deal with workforce development, economic development and higher ed development in the area,” he says.

Wrapping up the conversation, Golladay circles back to his original point about the college being a true community center. “When I talk about this college being community-centric it’s not just classroom instruction – it’s the arts, athletics, fields, those things through which the community wishes to engage. That’s always been part of a community college mission, one reason we’re called a ‘community’ college. Our community expects a lot from us and we expect to deliver.” I95