The Dundalk campus of The Community College of Baltimore County recently celebrated the completion of a renovation project that is symbolic of the college's commitment to the Dundalk community.
A redesign of K Building has transformed the library, cafeteria and bookstore while sending the message that the Dundalk campus is alive and thriving, officials said.
Referring to Dundalk as the "little engine that could," CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis told a crowd gathered on May 2 that "not that long ago" officials were considering closing the Dundalk campus.
But Dundalk got past that "rough period" and has "risen over the mountaintop," Kurtinitis said.
Kurtinits was joined by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and other local elected leaders, college employees, students and community members to celebrate the completion of the $6.7 million facelift that also improved several employee work areas.
Kamenetz credited dedicated CCBC teachers with the success of the community college that has the highest enrollment in Maryland.
The strength of the workforce is critical to rebounding from the recession, Kamenetz said, and CCBC plays an important role in training and retraining workers.
Delegate John Olszewski Jr. said the capital investment represented "dollars well spent."
"Facilities make a difference," he said.
Students benefit from clean, bright, modern spaces, Olszewski said. He thanked Kamenetz for his support of the project that was "primarily driven by the county."
Residents who haven't visited the Dundalk campus K Building recently will barely recognize the space.
Inside the lobby, the second floor is now enclosed with glass walls that offer a view of the lobby but prevent noise from the first floor interfering with study and gathering spaces on the second floor.
The cafeteria and bookstore traded places with the library. The dark corner behind the stairwell that used to house the library is now a bright and open area that contains the new bookstore and cafeteria.
The new library utilizes the space of the old cafeteria, as well as a long hall and an alcove that housed a few vending machines and restrooms.
Campus Dean Carol Sullivan thanked her colleagues and elected leaders for their "vision, commitment and support."
She recognized Kurtinitis and Vice President Melissa Hopp for their ability to continuously find the "pennies and sometimes dollars" as the project grew beyond its original vision.
In her closing remarks, Kurtinitis light-heartedly said she had to disagree with Sullivan.
"It was never pennies, it was always dollars," Kurtinitis said. "Lots of dollars."
But those dollars have been well spent, and are an investment in the students now filling every available learning space on the Dundalk campus.
The message has been sent, Kurtinitis said, that the Dundalk campus is just as important, successful and popular as those in Essex and Catonsville.
And the community has received that message, the president believes.
"The Dundalk community has indeed taken us back into their hearts," she said.