New leader of school in office today

Community college `in good hands,' successor told

Brings `focus' to job

President's goals include establishing study-abroad program

July 01, 1999|By David L. Greene | David L. Greene,SUN STAFF

Could the transition of power at Carroll Community College yesterday have been any smoother?

Founding President Joseph F. Shields, hours before retiring, gave his successor, Faye Pappalardo, a hug and a simple pep talk.

She said he told her: "I'm leaving the college in good hands. I feel very comfortable."

Pappalardo takes over as president today. She doesn't pretend to have a grandiose vision.

She is inheriting a machine that needs, if anything, mere fine-tuning. The college is fiscally sound. No major controversies are simmering. The school continues to win praise for offering students top-notch technology.

But if any room exists for tinkering, Pappalardo is not short on ideas.

Priority No. 1 for this former schoolteacher is re-evaluating some of the academic programs. Pappalardo said it might be possible to better ensure that students become more well-rounded and more attractive to employers after graduating. That could mean teaching students to be "team players."

She also hopes to install Carroll's first study-abroad program and rigorously encourage events and lecture series that introduce the student body -- 98 percent of which lives in Carroll County -- to other cultures. Last spring's "Holocaust: A Remembrance" program, she said, was a success she hopes to repeat.

"There is a bigger picture beyond Carroll County," she said. "Look at our population here. We are very much the same. Some of our students have never been outside Carroll County. For some, to go into Baltimore is like going to some faraway place. They're very safe here."

On the surface, not much about Pappalardo seems presidential. She is soft-spoken and at ease wandering the halls chatting with students, staff or maintenance workers. This was not, she said, a job she coveted or asked for.

But it is a job Carroll's board of trustees saw fitting. According to Alan Schuman, executive vice president for administration, the trustees began an outside candidate search 16 months ago, after Shields said he was retiring.

They quickly abandoned the search and in June 1998 promoted Pappalardo from executive vice president to associate president, also naming her Shields' successor.

"The board decided what it wanted in a new president, then realized we had the person on campus," Schuman said. "She knows us, she knows what the college has, and where it can go."

Pappalardo has been at Carroll for 11 years, beginning as student affairs director and serving until last year as executive vice president of teaching, learning and institutional planning.

She is far more willing to discuss her professional aspirations than she is her personal life. A self-described private person, Pappalardo asked that her age not be printed in this article.

"The important thing is what am I about," she said. "What are my priorities? What do I hope to achieve at Carroll? It is important for me to set the tone, for people to know I'm accepting of all. The issue is who is the person."

A 1960 graduate of Mount St. Mary's College, Pappalardo taught English, history, music, French and literature at Catholic junior high schools in Towson and Baltimore before chairing the foreign language department at Catholic Girls' High School in Baltimore from 1970 to 1972.

Claudia Chiesi, president of Harford Community College and president of the Maryland Council of Community College Presidents, has for the past 18 months been working closely with Pappalardo. They are lobbying the state for money to upgrade technology in Maryland's community colleges.

Pappalardo, she said, "brings an intellect and a soul to her work most people don't have. When she comes to the table she brings the focus we need for the future."

She takes over in a time of growth, with the college planning a $12.9 million expansion to begin in 2000. She will oversee an operating budget of $11 million. The school, which gained independence from Catonsville Community College in 1993, has an enrollment of 2,435.

Pappalardo, who grew up in south Philadelphia and is unmarried with no children, has lived the past 24 years in Baltimore. That's quite a commute for someone about to face longer working hours, and she is trying to sell her home in Coldspring New Town and buy a property blocks from the college in Westminster.

Shields' departure after eight years as president brings a void to campus, especially for Pappalardo. The two have worked as a team on many projects and, Pappalardo said, Shields has valued her opinion.

She said she hopes to build similar relationships with her staff.

"The day people become `yes' people to me," Pappalardo said, "they do me no good."

Pub Date: 7/01/99

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