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Harford Community College Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony for Chesapeake Welcome Center

26 October 2023

Harford Community College hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Chesapeake Welcome Center, the College’s new front door, on October 26.

State and local officials and business and industry partners joined College officials in Darlington Hall for a reception prior to the groundbreaking. Denise Dregier, Executive Director for the Harford Community College Foundation, served as Master of Ceremonies. Dr. Theresa B. Felder, Harford Community College President, provided an overview of the project. Building renderings were shared and speakers discussed the importance of this project for Harford students and the community. Speakers included Harford County Executive Robert G. Cassilly; Richard P. Streett III, D.V.M., Chair, Harford Community College Board of Trustees; and Eric T. Rebbert, Chair, Harford Community College Foundation. Following remarks, invited guests visited the site of the future Chesapeake Welcome Center to take part in the building's ceremonial groundbreaking.    

The Chesapeake Welcome Center has been designed to serve as a front door or first stop for students and visitors. The original Chesapeake Center, which was built in 1968, was 32,266 GSF prior to renovation. Once completed, the Chesapeake Welcome Center will be more than double the original size. The project is expected to be completed in April 2025.

For the first time ever, potential students will be able to register for both credit and noncredit classes in the same location. Enrollment Services, including Admissions, Financial Aid, Registration, Advising, and the Cashier’s Office, will be conveniently located to ensure a seamless experience.

In addition, the Welcome Center will include a modernized Chesapeake Theater with state-of-the-art audio and lighting. Seating will increase from 336 to more than 400, an orchestra pit will be added, and the theater will feature a proscenium stage. The center will also include an updated Dining Services facility. The Chesapeake Gallery, which was formerly located in the Student Center, will be relocated to this building and expanded in size. In addition, the Welcome Center will house a conference center with 9,300 Net Assignable Square Feet (NASF) and breakout rooms and modernized audiovisual equipment.  There will also be office space for several College departments.

The design firm for the project is Murphy and Dittenhafer and the general contractor is Oak Contracting LLC. Funding is being provided by the State of Maryland, Harford County, and Harford Community College.

The College is pleased to announce the first donors who have reserved space in the Chesapeake Welcome Center to carry their names. Dr. James and Lynne LaCalle have chosen to name the Chesapeake Art Gallery, and the first-floor lobby will bear the name of Freedom Federal Credit Union. Dr. LaCalle, a former president of Harford Community College, and Lynne LaCalle, a former vice president, retired from the College with a combined 75 years of service. Throughout their lives, they have been strong supporters of the Arts, as well as having enjoyed a wide range of art experiences.

According to Dr. LaCalle, "It is an honor to have our names associated with the new Chesapeake Art Gallery so that Harford Community College can continue to offer outstanding art experiences to its students and the residents of Harford County."

Mike MacPherson, President and CEO of Freedom Federal Credit Union, stated, “As a credit union deeply rooted in Harford County, Freedom believes that investing in education is a way to transform lives and strengthen our local area. Naming the lobby of the Chesapeake Welcome Center at Harford Community College is a testament to our dedication to educational opportunities and our belief in the potential of our students. We're excited to be a part of this enhancement to the campus and look forward to its continued impact for years to come."

Eric Rebbert stated, "Behind every successful academic institution there are unique individuals, families, and businesses with a desire to make a difference and a vision to reach into the future. Many friends of Harford Community College have chosen to make charitable financial contributions to the College to support our students through a variety of initiatives including scholarships, program enhancements, and building enhancements. Other donors take advantage of the Harford Foundation’s Naming Opportunities Program, which invests in our students and leaves a lasting legacy by permanently adding their name to a space on campus. On behalf of the Harford Foundation, I’d like to invite you to be a part of the future of Harford Community College and consider naming a space in the Chesapeake Welcome Center." 

If you are interested in learning about naming opportunities, please contact Casey Snyder, Director for Development, at 443.412.2449 or

Founded in 1957, Harford Community College is a vibrant, open-access institution located on more than 350 beautiful acres near Bel Air, Maryland. Harford offers 140+ affordable degree, certificate, and career and workforce programs to more than 6,300 full- and part-time students, as well as community education courses to nearly 6,000 students a year. If you would like to learn more about all that Harford Community College offers, please visit

Harford Community College hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Chesapeake Welcome Center last week.

Harford Community College hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Chesapeake Welcome Center last week. Pictured (L to R): Vicki Jones, Laura L. Henninger, Esq., CPA, Sharon Markley Schreiber, Richard P. Streett, III, D.V.M., Robert Cassilly, Dr. Theresa Felder, Teresa Reilly, Brian Walker, Karen Holt, Aaron Penman, Eric Rebbert, and Dion Guthrie.

Photo credit: Lauren Raygor, Harford Community College

The Chesapeake Welcome Center

Groundbreaking Ceremony for Chesapeake Welcome Center

Built in 1968, the building was 32,266 GSF prior to renovation. Once completed (April 2025), the Chesapeake Welcome Center will be more than double the original size.



Nancy Dysard

Director for Communications

Sheila Terry

Assistant Director for Public Relations