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Durham Tech increases services at Orange County campus

By Rose Laudicina
Staff Writer

Durham Technical Community College's Orange County campus has seen significant enrollment increases, allowing the college to expand its course offerings and impact in the community. Last fall solar panels were installed outside the campus' lone building. Photo by the Orange County Visitors Bureau


UNC isn’t the only college drawing students in to Orange County: Durham Technical Community College’s Orange County campus has seen its enrollment spike and is expanding its offerings to meet the increased demand.

When it opened in the spring of 2008, the campus, located in Hillsborough, was only offering a small number of non-credit and credit courses, including GRE review, English and general education.

But as word spread about the Orange County campus, Penny Gluck, executive dean of the campus’ operations, saw enrollment and demand rise steadily.

“After hearing from citizens wanting more courses at the Orange County campus, the college made an effort to increase our offerings and services,” Gluck said.

Now students can study for an associate of arts degree and take both career-focused and technical courses to prepare for jobs. In addition to offering a wider variety of courses, Durham Tech also expanded the number of sections offered for classes, specifically in the sciences and social sciences.

“Now students are more likely to have a full schedule at the Orange County campus,” Gluck said, meaning they won’t have to commute between the Durham and Orange campuses.

Expanded services have resulted in an increase in enrollment. Gluck said that in the 2011-12 school year, more than 350 students were on campus for courses. For 2012-13, nearly 550 students have enrolled, with late registration ending today (Thursday).

“We have definitely seen a significant increase in enrollment,” Gluck said. “It’s exciting for the whole Durham Tech family.”

Gluck said the campus is attracting many students who are choosing to make it their first choice for continuing their educations. She believes the value, convenience and small class size attracts both traditional and nontraditional students.

“[Students find] there is a great level of comfort here knowing they won’t get lost in the crowd,” she said.

Dorothy Wood, a professor of biology at Durham Tech’s Orange County campus, agreed with Gluck that the personal connections draw students.

“Because it is a small campus, the personal service we provide is second to none,” Wood said. “The students are much more engaged in smaller classes.”

Wood, formerly a professor at N.C. Central University, was attracted to teaching at Durham Tech in 2003 because of the opportunity to personally connect with students at the then-future campus in her home county.

When the campus first opened, Wood said the school had to persuade students to apply for classes, and she began teaching one section of biology that wasn’t always full. Now, Wood said, there are two sections of the course that quickly fill to capacity.

Like Gluck, Wood sees a variety of students in her courses, including high school students looking to get ahead by taking college-level courses. She believes that having both younger and older students in her classes provides a unique educational setting.

Both Gluck and Wood hope that as enrollment increases, the campus can expand to multiple buildings to meet the needs of more residents. There are no immediate plans to expand the small, one-building campus.

“I can’t wait for when we can increase our physical presence,” Wood said. “We’re a huge resource for the citizens of Orange County.”

“I certainly hope we’re viewed as a critical training and educational entity,” Gluck said.

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