Dundalk's Loss, Anne Arundel's Gain

May 10, 1994

The impending departure of Anne Arundel Community College President Thomas E. Florestano Sr. has been softened a bit by the announcement that he will be replaced by an equally progressive, energetic leader, Martha A. Smith of Dundalk Community College.

During the 12 years she has spent at eastern Baltimore County's Dundalk C.C., six as president, Dr. Smith has amassed a reputation not unlike her Anne Arundel counterpart. She is known as a skillful manager, a community activist who works closely with the public schools and local groups, and a forward-thinker who has aggressively recruited minorities and has not been afraid to use her campus as a place to explore controversial current topics -- the Rodney King beating, for example.

Her biggest complaint about Dundalk -- the reason she left, in fact -- was that competition among Baltimore County's three community colleges restricted her from fulfilling her vision. There will be no such strictures at AACC, nor the tough task of getting a struggling institution on an even keel -- a job she completed at Dundalk and which Dr. Florestano has accomplished in Arnold. Instead, she will be expected to use her creativity and talent to meet the challenges of a thriving campus.

What are those challenges? They involve the central phenomenon taking place at AACC, namely, surging enrollment. Smith will have to manage this growth by keeping up the ratio of faculty to students, pursuing a capital program to expand the campus' physical capabilities and maintaining a good relationship with the county which, hampered by the constraints of a property tax cap, may be less generous with AACC than it has been in the past.

The challenges also include retooling the curriculum to suit the -- college's changing role. Community colleges are no longer only for just-out-of-high school graduates, but are being sought by adults of all ages. Dr. Smith seems especially prepared to address such curriculum changes. At Dundalk, she engineered a plan for meeting the needs of business as well as the surrounding community, which could no longer count on the nearby Sparrows Point steel plant for steady employment. She has repeatedly said she wants to create a "world-class %o curriculum" to prepare people for the jobs of tomorrow. She will get that chance at AACC.

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