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Howard Community College

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
2019 Award Recipient, Education

A female student at Howard Community College Commencement turning behind in her seat and smiling while holding up her diploma.
Credit: Howard Community College

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Highest-Ranking Official*
Kathleen Hetherington, EdD

Public Affairs Contact

*At time of award

For more information
Elizabeth Homan
Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing
Howard Community College
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044
ehoman [at] (ehoman[at]howardcc[dot]edu)

    Howard Community College (HCC) is an open-access, public community college offering associate degrees and certificates, as well as workforce development training and continuing education classes, that help students attain new skills, and prepare for careers or transfer to four-year institutions. With 2,724 employees, the college educates about 30,000 students annually through a main campus in Columbia, MD, in addition to the Laurel College Center in Laurel, MD, and the Ecker Business Training Center in Columbia, MD.


    • With a mission of providing pathways to success, HCC has consistently outperformed its local and national comparators for attainment of associate degrees and certificates by more than 200%.
    • HCC tripled its graduation rates for Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino first-time-to-college students within two years of entry.
    • The graduate placement rate for health sciences students is 100% for seven out of eight of HCC’s health sciences programs.
    • HCC's full-time-equivalent enrollment growth, which impacts state funding of the college, is the best in the state over the last 10 years.

    Student Learning with Results

    • HCC’s growth rate for the attainment of associate degrees and certificates has consistently outperformed its local and national comparators by more than 200%. Compared to the baseline year of fall 2002, HCC’s full-time-equivalent student growth rate increased from under 40% in 2003 to 340% in 2018, with state, national, and best peer rates close to just 100%.
    • The persistence rate—defined as the number of students who graduated, transferred, earned at least 30 credits with a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or above, or were still enrolled at HCC four years after entry—has increased significantly over the past three fiscal years, from just over 75% in FY2016 to over 80% in FY2018, surpassing the Maryland community colleges and best state rates. 
    • HCC partners with over 276 entities to provide clinical practice sites to successfully prepare students entering the health sciences field for employment. As a result, the graduate placement rate for these students is 100% for seven out of eight of HCC’s health sciences programs. 
    • Supporting its strategic goal of student success, HCC deploys numerous methods to listen to and interact with current students. For example, the national Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) indicates that HCC’s overall ratings of students’ educational experience as well as student perception of college support are better than its large community college comparators, as well as the national CCSSE ratings. These ratings have continued to improve over the past five years.
    • HCC demonstrates its core competency of facilitating student success through numerous student support programs, including financial aid, counseling, advisory and tutoring services, 280 flexible format courses, and information technology support services.

    Senior Leadership

    • Senior leaders create an environment to achieve the college’s mission, engage the workforce, and cultivate organizational and individual learning by aligning individual workforce plans to departmental action plans to core institutional goals and objectives. Senior leaders encourage employees to participate in plan-do-check-act improvement projects that are vetted by applying intelligent risk taking. Progress on achievement of institutional objectives is shared across the organization and with the Board of Trustees through the reporting of key performance indicators. 
    • Supporting the organization’s stated values of integrity and respect, senior leaders and board members model and promote ethical behaviors among themselves, the workforce, and the students by deploying supportive by-laws and policies, training, external financial audits, conflict-of-interest statements, and faculty and student handbooks. They promote transparency through open-door policies, a non-retribution whistle-blower policy, comment cards read and acted upon by HCC’s President’s Team, and a 360-degree leadership feedback system.

    Financial Results

    • HCC's full-time-equivalent enrollment growth, which impacts state funding of the college, is the best in the state over the last 10 years.
    • HCC’s market share of all Howard County undergraduates, whether attending the community college full- or part-time, is 23% better than any other Maryland, four-year, higher-education institution. HCC has a 71% market share of county residents enrolled as part-time undergraduates at any Maryland public college or university. 
    • Based on the college’s service area population, HCC’s market penetration is at the National Community College Benchmark Project 80th percentile for credit courses and at the 93rd percentile for noncredit courses.

    People Process with Results

    • HCC has been named a “Great College to Work For” for 11 consecutive years in an extensive workplace survey by ModernThink. HCC is the only community college in Maryland—and one of only two community colleges in the nation—to have achieved this record status.
    • HCC’s overall turnover rate—defined as the number of full-time core workforce employees who leave the college because of resignation, retirement, dismissal, or reorganization—was 8.3% in FY2018, compared to the Bureau of National Affairs annualized national rate of 14%. HCC’s overall turnover rate is also better than its best peer, even when segmented by support, faculty, professional/technical, and administrative staff.
    • The college’s effort to increase diversity in the employee applicant pool by targeting advertisements and announcements to minority-specific groups has resulted in a minority draw rate 3% higher than the minority population of the area it serves. In fall 2018, the percentage of minorities among full-time faculty was 28.4% and among administrative/professional staff was 31.9%, both the highest figures since records have been kept.
    • On the 15 major dimensions measured in the Great Colleges to Work For Survey in 2019, HCC’s employee ratings were 7–18% better than national two-year college comparators. Dimensions include compensation/benefits, collaboration, respect/appreciation, faculty/administration/staff relations, and pride/connection to institution.
    • HCC’s learning and development system supports the personal development of its workforce through a number of programs and policies, including cohort-based leadership programs for faculty and staff; a requirement for all employees to obtain 10 hours of professional development annually; and tuition waivers.

    Strategic Planning and Implementation with Results

    • HCC fosters a very high degree of stakeholder involvement in its strategic planning process. For example, recommendations on strategic initiatives are provided by its Commission on the Future, which includes county citizens and leaders to help the college identify community needs and recommend potential strategic initiatives. Input to capital improvements is provided by a steering committee comprised of faculty, staff, and students in key planning roles on campus. As part of the college’s Institutional Effectiveness Plan, all academic divisions, student services, and administrative units complete a set of key performance indicators, linked to core work that is aligned with the strategic action plans. 
    • Through a process of learning and improving over a six-year period, the college reduced its number of strategic objectives by more than half and the number of action plans by two-thirds. These results helped to strengthen the alignment of contributing work group plans to those objectives, resulting in a 100% completion rate for strategic objectives for fiscal years 2016 through 2019. For example, focused objectives have resulted in an improved student graduation-transfer rate performance after four years of 55% and an increased percentage of developmental completers (students who entered HCC in need of at least one developmental education course and became college ready) of 45%.

    Citizenship with Results

    In support of its strategic objective of carbon footprint reduction, HCC was one of the original signers of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to minimize global warming emissions and provide knowledge and education to achieve climate neutrality. HCC outperformed all associate degree-granting college signatories, as recorded in the ACUPCC Reporting System, with a 0.21 metric ton reduction in emissions, saving the college $74,280 over a six-year period, with a projected savings of $123,000 over the next two years.

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    Created November 7, 2019, Updated February 24, 2020