By C.J. LOVELACE
8:45 PM EST, February 4, 2013
More than 50 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday afternoon, formally recognizing a University System of Maryland at Hagerstown expansion into a new building in the heart of the city’s downtown.
USMH enrollment numbers are up, by about 14 percent this past fall, and approximately 500 students are currently taking classes, according to Mark Halsey, executive director of USMH.
“And we are seeing every reason to believe that we’ll see probably close to that same growth level again next fall,” Halsey said after the ceremony, which was attended by numerous local elected and educational officials as well as community and business leaders.
To accommodate this growth, USMH has partnered with the City of Hagerstown, and is leasing space to the rear of 60 W. Washington St., right across the courtyard from its existing building.
Hagerstown Mayor David S. Gysberts touted the continued educational partnership as a positive for both the city and area students.
“... The way to get a good job these days is to have higher education, so this is a hallmark for us because this is such a crucial institution for our downtown,” he said.
The city-led $1 million building renovation, which also houses a business, Think ReInk, and the framework of the city’s small business incubator, includes 2,700 square feet of space for USMH operations, configured for three classrooms and three faculty offices for six faculty and staff members.
A combination of federal, state and local funds have gone into the building’s overall redevelopment.
Although the building is not just for education, Halsey said all three classrooms utilize state-of-the-art technology, including Promethean interactive smartboards, much like the ones currently in use in many Washington and Frederick (Md.) county public schools.
“It’s a great day today,” he said. “It really is.”
State Del. John Donoghue and a representative of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski also attended the ceremony.
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