A Brief History of HCC

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Harford Community College - originally called Harford Junior College (HJC) - began by offering afternoon and evening classes to a little more than 100 students at Bel Air High School in September 1957. From the beginning, it was a serious academic institution, with its own library, and with many faculty members holding graduate degrees. Along with hiring high quality faculty, the first president, Dr John Musselman, focused on the transferability of courses and credit hours. He also boosted the school’s reputation by achieving official accreditation for the College in 1958.

The Harford County Board of Education, which governed the College for its first 15 years, bought Prospect Hill Farm in 1962 to construct the current campus. Harford Junior College opened the campus in 1964 to 705 students (and more than 1000 the next year). There were three new buildings - those now called Aberdeen Hall (science), Bel Air Hall (arts), and Maryland Hall (library). Other existing buildings from the farm were renovated; an old stone house became administration offices, a smaller house became a faculty lounge, and an old barn became the theater while the newer barn held physical education classes.

Dr. Alfred O’Connell, the second president of Harford Junior College, emphasized and expanded programs that were terminal rather than for transfer. These were for para-professional careers in science, paramedical, and technical fields, along with the nursing program. Dr. O’Connell also added new buildings to the campus. By 1968, HJC had Havre de Grace Hall, Joppa Hall (originally shared with the Board of Education as a Vocational Technical School). Also finished were the Chesapeake Center (administration and a theater), and the Susquehanna Center (pool and gymnasium).

The institution's name was officially changed in the early 1970s from Harford Junior College to Harford Community College, and it became more independent of the Board of Education. Rather than having a Board of Trustees that completely overlapped with the school board, the College had its own, with all members except two selected by the governor of Maryland. The 1970s were a difficult time for Harford Community College - just like the nation as a whole - as it struggled with funding cutbacks and budget shortfalls. Dr. O’Connell, who had resigned in the late 1960s, was brought back on as president to get the College back on track.

In the early 1980s, Dr. O’Connell tightened Harford Community College’s academic standards. He instituted placement tests, changed policy to begin recording Fs and tracking GPAs, and authorized suspensions and other “restrictions.” O’Connell also began requiring some math and science courses, even for arts degrees.

The next president, Dr. Richard Pappas, continued modernizing HCC’s academic standards and course offerings in the 1990s. He emphasized marketing and business connections, and so reached out to local businesses and industries to make sure both credit and non-credit course offerings were together creating graduates well prepared to move into the workforce.

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