December 5th, 2022
Meagher leaves mark on Garrett College
Departing facilities director oversaw STEM Center and PAC projects
Kathy Meagher, right, receives a proclamation from Susan O'Brien, communications director for Comptroller Peter Franchot, for her project leadership in the design and construction of the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College. Saturday's PAC grand opening coincided with Meagher's last day in her role as GC's director of campus facilities.
Kathy Meagher had to hit the ground running when she was hired as Garrett College's director of campus facilities in May 2016.
"I started on a Monday and the very first meeting for the STEM Center's A and E [architecture and engineering] was on Tuesday," said Meagher, who is leaving Garrett College this week after overseeing construction of both the Daniel E. Offutt III STEM Center and the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College.
Meagher said collaboration was a key component with both projects, offering the STEM Center as an example of successful collaboration.
"Getting the stakeholders involved was critical," said Meagher. "The STEM faculty played a pivotal role in identifying academic needs, and [project architect] Grimm + Parker did an incredible job transforming our needs into their design for the project."
While the STEM Center was a fairly straightforward project, Meagher said the recently completed Performing Arts Center proved to be an entirely different animal.
"Every part of building the PAC was challenging – getting the funding, getting the architect within our funding, getting a contractor who would sign on and built it through a pandemic," noted Meagher. "After that, we had all of the masking and testing protocols, and we lost several crews for weeks at a time with COVID.
"We were ordering equipment earlier than normal to try to get ahead of supply-chain issues and constantly following up with suppliers, " Meagher added. "We also did a lot of research on additional funding, including two successful Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grants that made a huge difference in this project." Meagher said another difference in the two projects was her experience in the two widely different academic disciplines.
"Coming through an engineering school and seeing a college build an engineer building was exciting," said Meagher, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland College Park. "I'm a patron of the arts, but I didn't really know the infrastructure of a performing arts center. I really enjoyed touring different centers and learning about everything that goes into a successful facility."
Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College's president, said Meagher's willingness to learn all the intricate details of constructing a performing arts center was critical to the project's success.
"When we received approval for the PAC, Kathy dove into researching performing arts center construction projects," said Midcap. "And that included visiting multiple performing arts center and talking to people who ran PACs. She would ask them what worked, what didn't, and what were the keys to successful performing arts centers."
Meagher credited state and local officials for their commitment to the PAC as a funding priority. The $21 million facility included $17 million in state funding and $4 million in local funding after several previous efforts to build a performing arts center had failed.
Meagher indicated all the challenges were worth being able to address a long-time community need.
"Being part of the community, I knew how much the community wanted this facility," said Meagher. "It was a piece of community and culture that was missing. The College, the school system, the arts community – the entire community – and visitors will all benefit from this facility."
While the Offutt STEM Center and the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College were the two most visible projects completed during Meagher's tenure, Midcap said Meagher is leaving GC with many other impressive accomplishments.
"The Mosser Road Heritage Trail is another extremely important capital improvement for the College," said Midcap, referring to the ¾-mile trail along Mosser Road down to Route 219 that was completed in June. "It provides our students with a safe option to walk into town and has proven to be a high-traffic community recreational trail.
"Kathy played a key role in bringing together the County, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, Garrett Trails, the Garrett County Agricultural Fair, and the McHenry United Methodist Church as project partners," added Midcap. "Those collaborations allowed us to attract the funding and gain the easements necessary to build the trail."
Meagher said the College's community mission and the opportunity to manage projects like the STEM, PAC and Mosser Road Heritage Trail played roles in her decision to come to Garrett College.
"I like managing capital projects," said Meagher. "I had done so before in the utility world, mainly electric substations and distribution systems, and that appealed to me. I also knew a lot of people who had worked here, and they were all people I respected in the community."
Meagher said "spending time with the family and getting ready for the next adventure" are her immediate post-College goals.
"I've enjoyed the opportunity to work not only with faculty and staff but the contractors that work with the college," said Meagher. "It's been a wonderful experience."