Hood College president retiring in 1995 after 2 decades at helm

March 01, 1994|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Western Maryland Bureau of The Sun

FREDERICK -- In the mid-1970s, Hood College, the liberal arts school in downtown Frederick, counted 500 undergraduates and just "a handful" of graduate and commuter students among its enrollment.

Under the nearly 20-year tenure of President Martha E. Church -- who recently announced her plans to retire in 1995 -- that enrollment has grown to 1,100 undergraduate and 970 graduate students. About one-third of the undergraduates are commuters; and about 10 percent are male.

Hood College's enrollment last fall was the highest in the 100-year-old institution's history.

"I think the legacy I'm leaving is that Hood is capable of serving a diverse population," Dr. Church, 63, said yesterday. "We have a variety of strong programs and we have retained our identify for undergraduate residential women."

Dr. Church's accomplishments go beyond the expansion of enrollment at the college, which had been all-female until just before her tenure. During her presidency, Hood's endowment increased from $3 million to more than $39 million, said board executive committee member Lois Smith Harrison.

And under Dr. Church's leadership, Hood has improved its facilities, building an $11.7 million research and technology center and upgrading its science facilities and its graduate school.

According to the October issue of U.S. News and World Report magazine, Hood was ranked sixth among universities in the northern region for its quality of education.

Dr. Church's legacy may include a closer campus community. By the time she steps down, Hood College will break ground on a $5.8 million campus center, where commuters, graduate and undergraduate students can mingle while they pick up mail, buy books and sip espresso.

"What's really exciting is that this mixture of students has led us to help them get better acquainted with each other," Dr. Church said. "The campus center ties the whole campus together."

The student center is part of another ambitious project that came to fruition under Dr. Church's tenure -- a five-year, $52.7 million fund-raising campaign -- the largest in the college's history. About $47 million in pledges and gifts have been raised toward that goal.

Hood College was one of 100 colleges nationwide cited last year for excellence in fund raising by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

"Dr. Church has provided strong and effective leadership," said Carol Allen, chair of the college's board of trustees. "Dr. Church has been an exemplary president of Hood College, and she will be a very hard act to follow."

The president said she announced her retirement to allow Hood officials time to conduct a national search for a successor. That search is expected to begin in earnest this summer.

After she retires, Dr. Church, a Pittsburgh native who is a skilled photographer and mountaineer, plans to climb to 18,000 feet on Mount Everest. She has climbed peaks surrounding the mountain, but never Mount Everest.

"It's something that has fascinated me since my college days," she said. "My highest priority is to go there. I also want to go to New Zealand and do some hiking. I have quite a line up of trips I'd like to do before old age creeps up."

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