Dundalk college chief seeks job elsewhere

January 16, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Dr. Martha Smith, 45, Dundalk Community College's president for six years, said yesterday that she has decided to look elsewhere for a job.

Dr. Smith said the decision was based on a board of trustees policy to limit each of the county's three community college presidents to one-year contract extensions, and her feeling that the county's three-college system is blocking her efforts to create a "world-class curriculum" for community colleges.

The board decision on contract renewals affects Dr. Smith and Dr. Donald J. Slowinski, the president of Essex Community College, said Nancy M. Hubers, board chairwoman. Their contracts were renewed this year for one more year, the 1994-95 academic year. Dr. Smith did not say when she would leave, but she could leave before her contract expires.

Dr. Frederick J. Walsh, president of Catonsville Community College, has a three-year contract that expires in June 1995.

Mrs. Hubers said the board could offer a new president a multiyear contract, but decided "to have flexibility" with the current presidents. She did not explain why the board wants more flexibility.

She praised Dr. Smith, saying that the board "has absolutely the greatest respect for Dr. Smith," and that she personally "would give her the strongest recommendation I can."

Mrs. Hubers said the new contract policy was not intended to push any president out of office, but she also said the board was aware that the decision might affect each president differently.

Dr. Smith, who has been at Dundalk for 12 years, said she did not take the decision as a personal slap at her.

What really prompted her to decide to leave the $85,000-a-year job, Dr. Smith said, is the vision she has of developing of a community college program that would turn out graduates more prepared to compete in the next century's global job market.

"I want to build a world-class curriculum" that would significantly change course work to raise academic standards, she said.

She said her vision is limited by the restraints of Baltimore County's unique three-college system, and by the single board of trustees that makes policy for Dundalk, Essex and Catonsville community colleges.

"Everything one college does affects the others," she said. "We can't do things that are seen to compete with the other colleges. We can't duplicate programs either."

Dundalk, the smallest of the schools, has tried to develop more skill training programs to serve the heavily industrial, but economically depressed area in which it is located. Over the past year, it has been developing a plan for the next century called Dundalk Community College-2000. The plan is nearing completion.

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