Beginnings

Veterans, prepare for your future through vocational training

In the years after WWII, junior colleges sprouted across the US, spurred by both the GI Bill and the growing need for continuing education programs.

In early 1957, the Harford County Board of Education authorized the creation of Harford Junior College, setting aside just $10,000 and planning to open that fall.

Bel Air High School drawing

Graphic from Bel Air High School's yearbook, El Adios.

Harford Junior College opened in September 1957, using Bel Air High School (many junior colleges got their start in the local high school) in the evenings.

119 students enrolled the first year, and while the local public school system was still segregated, Harford Junior College was always integrated.

Bel Air High School Library

College students had their own section of the library in Bel Air high school.

Owl graphic studying

Courses had a traditional liberal arts focus, preparing students to transfer to a 4-year school. The students were “night owls” – which is where our mascot, the owl, comes from. Despite classes being held mostly in the evening, student life was pretty typical. By the second year, the college had basketball, cheerleading, a yearbook, newspaper, and a dramatics club.

First graduates

The first graduating class – 1959 – was small, with two men and two women.

Enrollment grew rapidly, and the Board of Education began to look for a permanent home for the college.