Smith named head of college in Arundel

April 29, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

Sometimes you can search the world over but discover in the end that the person you want is right next door.

That's what happened yesterday, when Anne Arundel Community College announced that its new president will be Martha A. Smith, 45, president of Dundalk Community College.

Dr. Smith became the first female head of a public college or university in Maryland when she took over at Dundalk in 1987. She will be AACC's first female president when she joins the college Aug. 1 with a three-year, $100,000-a-year contract.

"I'm pretty thrilled," she said yesterday. "It [the college] is a treasure."

Dr. Dennis Golladay, vice president at AACC, said Dr. Smith "was an excellent choice." He also praised her enthusiasm and her experience in Maryland's higher education system.

"We were impressed by her planning ability," said Walter Hall, chairman of the search committee and a member of Anne Arundel's board of trustees.

He praised the Dundalk College's strategic plan, called Dundalk Community College-2000, which sets forth how the college could meet the future needs of businesses and the community. The type of management skills that helped produced Dundalk's plan will be critical when AACC revises its own strategic plan, he said.

"We see this lady as being an outstanding leader," he said.

She will replace Dr. Thomas E. Florestano, 61, who will retire June 30 after 15 years as president at Anne Arundel. During his tenure, the college's enrollment grew from about 7,400 in 1979 to more than 12,000 today.

The school's nursing curriculum blossomed into varied allied health services programs housed in the $6.2 million Allied Health and Public Services Building that was dedicated Wednesday.

"Dr. Florestano's shoes are going to be very difficult to fill, obviously," said Robert J. DiAiso, president of the AACC board of trustees.

Dr. Smith said one of the challenges of her new job will be to manage the school's continued growth and the new approaches community colleges will have to take as they are sought out not only by high school graduates, but also by working adults.

"We need to really prepare people with a contemporary and relevant liberal education," she said.

Dr. Smith announced in January that she was going to look for another job. She said the community college structure in Baltimore County, in which Dundalk is the smallest of three colleges under one board of trustees, would not let her develop a program producing sufficiently competitive graduates.

She had also cited the board's policy of limiting the three community college presidents to one-year contract extensions.

Dr. Smith received her doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Northern Colorado in 1974. She joined Dundalk Community College as dean of students in 1982 and has been its president for six years.

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