More than 200 Towson University and Harford Community College supporters turned out in 90-plus degree heat to celebrate the ceremonial groundbreaking of Towson University in Northeastern Maryland on Thursday.
The event signaled the culmination of seven years of planning and setbacks, and the beginning of an innovative approach to higher education in the northeast part of the state.
“This region has become a major growth engine for the economy of Maryland, with rapidly increasing needs for a highly educated workforce,” said an energetic University System of Maryland Chancellor William “Brit” Kirwan. “As the public higher education system for Maryland, the University System of Maryland both has an obligation and a desire to come up to northeast Maryland and deliver the courses that you need.”
Those courses will come as a 2+2 program, allowing students to get their associate’s degree at HCC or Cecil College, and then transfer to Towson University in Northeastern Maryland, without having to make the drive to Towson for classes. Their degrees will come from Towson University.
University President Maravene Loeschke told the crowd that Harford County and Baltimore County have long been siblings, cut literally from the same piece of land, and this initiative serves to demonstrate that connection in an educational capacity. “We are partners forever,” she said.
Demonstrating that partnership was Harford County Executive David Craig, who spoke at the event, along with two dozen elected officials and dignitaries from the region. Cecil and Harford County Delegate Mary-Dulany James triumphantly scrawled the words “I was here” and then signed her name on a steel beam to be included in the building.
For James LaCalle, former president of Harford Community College, the groundbreaking was the realization of a goal he and former Towson president Bob Caret set out to achieve in 2006. He called it a “no-brainer” being able to serve the northeastern region of the state, which has no four-year academic institutions, with a set of programs that responds directly to the needs of the regional economy.
That’s a goal TU in Northeastern Maryland Director John Desmone shares. “Our hope is that, over time, we’ll begin to have conversations with the community to find out what the workforce needs are, and then hopefully start to match up some of the baccalaureate degrees with those workforce needs,” he said.
The crowd, which gathered under a large tent on asphalt poured two days ago, responded enthusiastically to the speakers and cheered when the past and current leaders of the institutions picked up their ceremonial shovels and made the groundbreaking official—even as active construction went on nearby.
Jonathan Lindhorst, project manager, says the building is set for completion in July 2014 to welcome its first students for the fall semester.
Visit the Towson University in Northeastern Maryland webpage to learn more about the undergraduate and graduate degree programs to be offered.