Frostburg's New President

August 29, 1991

When students and faculty return to Frostburg State University's campus early next month, a new president will greet them, one whose collegial style, integrity and academic skills seem well suited to an institution that is still haunted by the prior administration's tilt toward self-promotion and questionable spending practices.

Catherine R. Gira, now provost of the University of Baltimore, takes over Sept. 1 at Frostburg. At UB, she was responsible for much of the academic growth, budgeting and strategic planning that helped that campus thrive in the 1980s. Now she faces a challenge that offers vast potential.

As Dr. Gira put it in her acceptance speech, Frostburg State "serves as an intellectual and cultural center for the westernmost counties in the state, and for contiguous areas in Pennsylvania and West Virginia." It is a role that will expand dramatically upon completed of the new Performing Arts Center. The college not only is a cultural hub for these Appalachian communities but an important employment center, a source of graduate programs for the region's professionals and a promoter of economic development in an area faced with chronically high unemployment.

The new president wants to see Frostburg State become "a regional laboratory for the preparation and continuing education of science teachers. . . and for students wishing to specialize in the environmental sciences." Emerging courses in natural jTC resource conservation and management should prove popular given the vast expanse of state-own parkland in Western Maryland. And since 60 percent of the college's 5,000 students come from outside the three westernmost counties, other regions of the state should also benefit.

Frostburg is emerging from a tumultuous period that ended last December with the resignation of President Herb F. Reinhard.

Dr. Gira should be able to heal lingering campus wounds. She proved an adept consensus-builder at UB during nearly 10 years as provost. A Shakespeare scholar and advocate of the liberal arts, she also brings a national reputation as a past president of the American Association of University Administrators. These skills will be put to the test immediately as the campus tries to adjust to a recessionary budget without lowering the quality of its educational offerings. Frostburg State plays a key role in the life of Western Maryland. The school's importance to the region and state should increase, not diminish, under Dr. Gira's guidance.

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