Magazine article Techniques

Building a New Historic Preservation

Magazine article Techniques

Building a New Historic Preservation

Article excerpt

Trades Program

As I recollect back to my interview for the position of program coordinator of a new two-year preservation trades program at Harford Community College, I will not forget one question that was asked of me: "Well, will you be ready to jump off the diving board with both feet?"

My answer was an overwhelming, "Yes!"

I realized that building a program from the beginning would be a challenge, require many hours of hard work, loads of patience and flexibility, and above all a sense of humor; but I don't think that I understood how many hats I would actually wear. This is my short story of what must be considered when building a postsecondary career and technical education program-and not just any program, but one in which the mission is to combine both hands-on training and theory in the historic trades/crafts, a branch of the historic preservation field that has so often gone unnoticed.

The two-year associate in applied sciences degree offered at Harford Community College (HCC) in Bel Air, Md., is a Technical Professional Studies program in Building Preservation and Restoration (BPR). It is one of a few community college programs offered at this level in the United States. The program was approved as a statewide program by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which makes it very unique in that any resident of Maryland, outside of Harford County, who decides to major in BPR, is granted a waiver for in-county tuition. A feasibility study was completed in 1998 and a needs assessment survey in 2001. These two studies are the most important to conduct in the program planning process. Once it is determined that a program could be viable in a specific location and is supported by the governing institution, the state, county and the surrounding community, then the wheels are set in motion.

I arrived on the scene in January 2003. The existing survey and assessments were of great help with the necessary tasks of writing a two-year curriculum, but I felt that it was very important to begin with a program mission, stated goals and a list of objectives that would root the program with a philosophy and direction. It was also equally important to recruit qualified professionals in the field to serve on an advisory board for the program.

Another unique feature of the BPR program at HCC is that it sits within the Visual, Performing and Applied Arts division. While some might question the placement of the program in this division, I believe it was the correct decision in that it provides the student with a holistic background in the arts that will strengthen the traditional crafts skills needed to work sensitively with historic building materials. The Technical Professional Studies component of the program allows the student to develop an educational plan with the coordinator that might cross two postsecondary majors, therefore best servicing the needs of the student's career goals. No matter where a new program is situated in a division, the support of the dean, department faculty and staff cannot be overstated.

Years ago, I conceived an idea for a historic trades/crafts program while I was teaching vocational construction technology at the high school level. I have always felt that historic preservation provides an excellent opportunity to connect academic disciplines in an interdisciplinary environment while providing the student with hands-on application experiences. …

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