Howard Community College Recognized by Baldrige

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Howard Community College President Dr. Kate Hetherington

In November 2018, AFIT member organization Howard Community College (HCC), in Columbia, Maryland, was recognized by the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) judges for its role-model practices in the Leadership category, which evaluates how upper management leads the organization and how the organization leads within the community.

This recognition followed a site visit, which took place last October. A team of 8 Baldrige examiners visited campus and met with over 800 employees to more fully understand how well the College is applying the Baldrige Criteria and concepts, verify the team’s understanding of key strengths, and clarify its understanding of key vulnerabilities.

“It’s an exciting experience,” said Howard Community College’s president, Dr. Kathleen Hetherington. “There is some nervousness, of course, because everyone wants to do their best. Our College is constantly focused on what we can do to improve the learning experience and support services for our students and achieve our mission of providing pathways to success. The site visit is a great opportunity to showcase what we do.”

This recognition is another major milestone in the College’s quality journey. In 2017, they were selected for a site visit and subsequently earned recognition in two categories: Customers and Operations. Over the past year, the College has been leveraging the Baldrige examiners’ feedback to identify areas where they were falling short and make the appropriate process improvements. They also rely on benchmarking data and community feedback, such as their annual employee survey, to continually assess and enhance their performance.

“Our culture is focused on continuous improvement,” said Hetherington. “We never rest on our laurels and are always looking for ways to do better. That’s why the Baldrige framework is so helpful, it allows us to assess everything we’re doing.”

Howard Community College’s quality journey began in 2002, when they first applied for the Maryland Performance Excellence Award. Though they didn’t receive the award that year, the pursuit fueled organizational improvement by aligning their key performance indicators (KPIs) with the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. Five years later, in 2007, their efforts were recognized with the U.S. Senate Productivity Award for Maryland, which positioned the College to apply for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The College submitted their first Baldrige application in 2005, again in 2008, and they’ve continued to participate in the process annually.

Howard Community College has been a CQIN/AFIT member institution since 1998, a tradition that continues today under President Hetherington, who has served as the College’s CEO since 2007. “AFIT has been a valuable part of our quality journey,” said Hetherington. “The organization selects top notch learning partners, including Baldrige winners, to share their stories. Our team always benefits from learning about the creative ways in which they engage their employees so they do their best work to meet the organization’s mission. Every year we are inspired by their dedication and accomplishments.”

With the new year upon us, Howard Community College’s quality journey continues. President Hetherington and her team are already preparing their next Baldrige application. “We continue to pursue performance excellence, not for the prize, but to achieve better results that help us support student success,” said Hetherington. “Receiving the award would be icing on the cake.”

Please join us in congratulating President Hetherington and the Howard Community College team on this outstanding achievement!

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