Article by David Dinan | Owl Staff
Dr. Teresa Felder is HCC’s 10th president and its first African-American president. Coming from Clark County Community College in Ohio, she wants to hear from students about the topics that directly impact them, such as transportation, the application process, and job opportunities.
Dr. Felder began working at HCC on January 1, 2021. During an interview with Owl Magazine, she stated one of her major goals is to “increase access and success for students. Access, meaning…that we get more students involved and success meaning, not just starting a degree or credential, but finishing it.”
For first-generation immigrants and low-income individuals, there are barriers in order to enter and graduate from an institution. Dr. Felder plans on working with HCC’s administrative staff on minimizing the issues facing underserved groups. Additionally, she is focused on listening to students about where and why they are being hindered in order to increase the success and retention of students.
She continues, “A second goal would be to ensure that we’re meeting the needs of every part of the community…so, making sure that every part of the County understands that Harford has something to offer them.” A barrier to attending HCC for southern parts of Harford County is transportation.
Parts of Harford County like Edgewood are far away from HCC’s physical campus in Bel Air. In response, Dr. Felder says she is focusing on these parts of the county, where HCC now offers trades-based skills training at Harford’s Edgewood location.
Offering this type of trades-based education provides people in the southern part of the county the opportunity to gain skills necessary for employment which “you can get quickly and [use to] get to work.”
Dr. Felder is committed to filling job openings in Maryland with HCC graduates. “Having [Aberdeen Proving Ground] here as a huge employer for the state…we want to make sure that we’re providing the education and training that leads to opportunities there.”
Along with offering courses that lead to future employment or degree attainment, Dr. Felder spoke about flexibility for non-traditional students. “Are we offering courses and programs in a way that a parent who’s also working can see themselves getting through an academic program?”
HCC is addressing the issue of flexibility by offering a number of flexible programs like online learning, hybrid courses, and part-time enrollment for students who have other obligations like full-time jobs or children.
Dr. Felder will work with HCC’s staff to make the application process easier for students who are interested in attending. “There can be some barriers just in [applying]. It’s important that we look at the entire student experience to see, to identify what those particular barriers are for students.”
The issues facing students are hard to recognize. That’s why Dr. Felder wants to hear from students. “We think that students are experiencing our institution in a particular way, and sometimes we are missing the mark in certain areas. So, I’ve learned to listen more to students. And that is something that I want to bring to this institution and make sure we are really hearing from you and not making assumptions.”
“[Another] goal would be to ensure that we have clear pathways for students,” states Dr. Felder. “That means from high school to Harford, either then onto a four-year institution of a student’s choice or into employment, that we’ve got those pathways so any student that says, ‘I’m starting here, and I want to get there.’ Do we have a clear pathway for them to get there?”
Dr. Theresa Felder plans on continuing HCC’s excellence into the future, marked by its continued dedication to its students, and informed by her twenty years of experience in overseeing colleges.