Balto. City Community College Continues Its Commitment To “Building Communities…” With Its New Life Sciences Institute

L-R: Dr. Carolane Williams, Baltimore City Community College president, and United States Senator Barbara Mikulski. Report and photos by Ibrahim Dabo

L-R: Dr. Carolane Williams, Baltimore City Community College president, and United States Senator Barbara Mikulski at the official opening of BCCC's Life Sciences Institute. Report and photos by Ibrahim Dabo

Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) on November 16, 2009 officially opened its Life Sciences Institute (LSI) at the University of Maryland Baltimore’s (UMB) downtown BioPark campus. The LSI is the keystone of an educational and workforce training partnership between BCCC, the UMB and the Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy, a Baltimore City public high school with an emphasis on the sciences.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who was instrumental in securing $1.4 million in federal funds as part of the project, which paved way for first class facilities, was special guest at the event.

The labs at the LSI are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities

The labs at the LSI are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities

Equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms for the college’s biotechnology, environmental science and arts & sciences transfer programs, the 38,000-square-foot facility is seen as a major milestone in the West Baltimore community, strengthening ties and fostering opportunities for access to education in the sciences, and creating a dynamic workforce that will have far-reaching effects on Baltimore City.

Dr. Kathleen Kennedy Norris, BCCC coordinator of biotechnology and LSI’s on-site director, said students pursuing degrees and certificates will have an unprecedented access to world class researchers, and opportunities such as mentorships and internships.

Dr. Kathleen Kennedy Norris

Dr. Kathleen Kennedy Norris said students who may have never considered college as a realistic option can now have a clear manageable pathway

“Connecting with Baltimore City Community College and the University of Maryland, together, we can launch a 4+2+2 educational pathway,” Norris said.

The pathway starts with four years of high school, two years at LSI—thereby leading to a two-year associate degree— before students transfer to the UMB for a four-year bachelor’s degree.

BCCC President, Dr. Carolane Williams, described the primary role of BCCC’s LSI as a “functional bridge—a bridge that connects the city, the State, secondary education, higher education, business and industry in ways that will ultimately enrich the learning experience with students, increase workforce creation, stimulate economic development, and in a much broader sense, improve the quality of lives for ourselves and those who will come after us.”

Dr. Carolane Williams

Dr. Carolane Williams thanked Sen. Mikulski and everyone involved in this initiative

Dr Williams said BCCC will not only focus on access to serving high school students but also “focus on training the unemployed, and the underemployed,” adding that focus will also be geared to career changers, and veterans.

“To keep the pipeline open and the bridge functioning, we are planning to offer six-week summer programs for high school science teachers so that they can concentrate on teaching the biosciences, life sciences, technology and mathematics,” Dr Williams said.

She said BCCC has also established “workforce creation scholarships,” fully paid scholarships (tuition, fees, and books) in careers that have been identified by the Baltimore Workforce Investment Board, and the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board.

Sen. Verna Jones

Sen. Verna Jones said the LSI is a significant step forward to training Baltimore City residents

Sen. Verna Jones, who represents District 44, the area around the BioPark, said the program will help young individuals acquire skills for high-demand jobs in the biosciences.

“We all know the statistics: Baltimore City has a disproportionately high unemployment rate,” Jones said.

“We know there are lots of individuals who are impoverished and do not have access to the skills, training and jobs in this exploding field. Today we can say we are not just one step, but we are one mile ahead in the game to making sure our people are trained.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski

Sen. Barbara Mikulski was special guest at BCCC's LSI opening ceremony

Sen. Barbara Mikulski said she is no stranger to West Baltimore where the BioPark sits today, a community often portrayed as “dysfunction.” She said she spent a lot of time around that community during her days as a social worker.

“I knew something different,” Sen. Mikulski said. “I knew that community functioned very well. I knew that there was home, that there was family, that there was a social fabric, that what was absent was not a will, but a way to a better future,” she said.

She said she was very impressed with the opportunities that began to come in the new century.

Ibrahim Dabo and Dr. Kathleen Kennedy Norris

Ibrahim Dabo and Dr. Kathleen Kennedy Norris

“We knew that there was an up and coming field called biotechnology,” Sen. Mikulski said, also acknowledging Governor Martin O’Malley who has “made a major investment in making sure that Maryland would be part of a vibrant life science community….”

BCCC Board of Trustees Chair, Garland O. Williamson, extended sincere thanks and appreciation to the West Baltimore community and everyone that was involved in making the LSI project a success.

Sen. Mikulski and participants who attended the event were later guided on a tour of the BioPark’s second floor where the LSI is housed.

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· Click on the album below for photos taken at the LSI official opening Ceremony (All photos by Ibrahim Dabo)

BCCC Officially Opens Its Life Sciences Institute

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