Wor-Wic planning for our future educational needs

Economically successful communities possess a specific roster of essential entities: a quality hospital, a diverse retail presence, a progressive public schools system, an economically resilient manufacturing sector, a convenient airport with passenger and cargo service, an emerging urban core and a well-regarded research university.

To support all of those things, a strong community college is needed.

Thanks to good goal setting and public commitment, Salisbury checks off each item on that list — and Wor-Wic Community College provides the necessary training and manpower. 

Even with so many college classes moving online, infrastructure remains vital. Nurses require in-person instruction, police officers need hand-to-hand training, X-ray technicians need access to complicated machines, chefs need to practice in kitchens and workforce development students need direct access to pertinent equipment.

To meet student needs — as well as community requirements — Wor-Wic continues adding new buildings and adapting learning spaces. Its 10-year facilities master plan establishes a framework for a physical growth of the campus that also reflects work skills that will be needed locally.

“I am very excited about this master plan,” said Dr. Ray Hoy, President of Wor-Wic. “We take our commitment to train the workforce of today and tomorrow seriously and this plan will help us continue to address the educational and training needs of our businesses and citizens in the region.”

Wor-Wic has a bit of a space crunch. The college has the least amount of net assignable square feet per student of the 16 community colleges in Maryland. Nine existing buildings — totaling what seems like an impressive 301,422 gross square feet — still aren’t adequate to accommodate current needs, let alone future projected growth through the next decade.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission projected Wor-Wic’s overall space deficit in 2027 as 96,635 net assignable square feet, or approximately three buildings the size of the college’s impressive Henson Hall facility.

Two buildings will be needed within the next five years — an Applied Technology Center and a Learning Commons.

Applied Technology Center

A new applied technology center of about 40,000 square feet would support credit programs in the college’s Occupational Education Division, with an emphasis on applied and emerging technologies such as industrial technology, supply chain management and alternative energy.

It would also be the center for current and additional continuing education and workforce development courses in the areas of transportation and industrial trades.

This building would also include a makerspace multipurpose laboratory, where students and community members can gather to create, invent and learn.

Dr. Ray Hoy.

Several specialized industrial laboratories, a computer laboratory, classrooms, student study spaces, a conference room and offices to accommodate credit and non-credit employees to support these programs will also be housed in this proposed building.

A sidebar to the project would be reconstruction to the campus entrance road. Such improvements would improve traffic and pedestrian safety, reduce congestion and better-integrate access to and egress from the campus.

Learning Commons

This new building, also estimated to be about 40,000 square feet, is envisioned as a true learning center to supplement the learning experiences in the college’s classrooms and laboratories, while encouraging group study and collaboration.

Existing resource centers will be centralized into this new building by relocating the largest center on campus from Brunkhorst Hall — Wor-Wic’s Academic and Administrative Building — and eliminating the smaller centers in other buildings. 

Signage, parking, landscaping

Ever since the college removed a several dozen pine trees to install 270 geothermal wells at the corner of Route 50 and Hobbs Road, the public has wondered what might be done to transform the tract. 

Under the facilities plan, a new gateway sign will replace the current message board and the open, grassy area will be filled with native meadow plantings.

The always-packed front parking lot serving Brunkhorst Hall — the first building campus visitors see — is also on tap for expansion and reconfiguration. Better access, and more visitor and handicapped parking will become available at the main entrance to the college.

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