At College of Southern Maryland, a Fourth President
Sunday, May 6, 2007
Pledging to make the institution a more integral part of the community it serves, Bradley M. Gottfried was formally inaugurated as the College of Southern Maryland's fourth president Friday afternoon.
Gottfried, a zoologist who also has written extensively on Civil War history, began his tenure at CSM last July but chose to wait to officially mark the transition. The former president of Sussex County Community College in New Jersey succeeds Elaine Ryan, who retired after eight years as president of the Southern Maryland community college.
Ryan and her predecessor, John Sine, presented the college's Presidential Medal to Gottfried during Friday's ceremony on the lawn of the La Plata campus administration building. The college's first president, Jay N. Carsey, died in 2000.
Gottfried's appointment made him the first CSM president without a previous connection to Southern Maryland, the result of a national search that reflected the college's expansion over recent years. Since Charles County Community College became a regional institution in 2000, Ryan and other administrators have worked to move the focus from the La Plata campus to sites in all three Southern Maryland counties.
In his inaugural address to a crowd of about 200 faculty members, students, alumni and local residents, Gottfried stressed that there is much work to be done to enhance CSM's presence in Prince Frederick and Leonardtown. The college serves more than 21,000 students seeking associate degrees or professional certificates in 100 programs of study and also maintains a learning center in Waldorf.
"How do we evolve from being a college with three campuses to a strong regional institution?" he asked, segueing into a list of his five major goals for his presidency.
Gottfried expressed a desire to partner with local school districts, businesses and hospitals so the college's educational offerings will align more closely with workforce needs. As president of Sussex County Community College, he was credited with adding to the institution's prestige by forming such relationships and offering a variety of learning opportunities to the general public.
Several speakers at the inauguration ceremony applauded Gottfried's work in planning educational and cultural activities for Southern Maryland residents. Summer concerts and town hall meetings are in the works for all three campuses, and the college hosted more than 300 people at a diversity forum last winter to discuss racist graffiti in Charles County.
"CSM has been a catalyst in bringing together Southern Maryland's three separate counties as a region," said State Del. Sally Y. Jameson (D-Charles), who leads the Southern Maryland delegation.
Several other elected officials attended the ceremony, including all five Charles commissioners.
Other speakers addressed the changing role of community colleges in Maryland, stressing the importance of higher education for those entering the workforce. David Sumler, a representative of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, said nearly one-third of the state's job openings require at least a community college degree, a percentage that is expected to rise.
"Community colleges are the first step up the economic ladder for many students," Sumler said.
Gottfried spoke about the importance of his own community college experience, recalling his poor performance in high school and the love of learning he gained while attending Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania. He went on to earn a master's degree in biology from Western Illinois University and a PhD in zoology from Miami University of Ohio.
"Without that community college, I would not be standing before you today," Gottfried said. "We are truly the American dream personified."