Rewarding a job well-done

Baltimore County: Frank Kelly has another term to lead and shape the community college system.

March 31, 2000

IT shouldn't have taken so long or required so much pressure, but Gov. Parris N. Glendening made the right decision in reappointing Francis X. Kelly, board chairman of the Community College of Baltimore County.

Mr. Kelly has been a critical force in the turnaround of what had been the state's most dysfunctional community college system. Politics, rather than performance, explain why Mr. Kelly's reappointment wasn't automatic when his term expired last June 30.

Governor Glendening considered Mr. Kelly a political enemy.

A former conservative Democratic state senator who registered as a Republican in 1991 after losing his seat, Mr. Kelly supported his long-time friend and legislative colleague Ellen R. Sauerbrey -- rather than Mr. Glendening -- in the past two gubernatorial elections. In the end, the governor wisely decided to put petty politics aside.

Mr. Kelly rescued the community college system from self-destruction. When he became board chairman, the Catonsville, Essex and Dundalk were local political fiefdoms. They suffered from weak management and their technology programs were badly outdated.

The County Council, fed up with the chaos, had slashed the community college budget.

In a short time, Mr. Kelly melded three campuses into one system and lured an impressive chancellor, Irving Pressley McPhail, to lead the system. Dr. McPhail developed a well-considered strategic plan and brought in highly-qualified presidents to run each of the schools.

Mr. Kelly understands the importance of creating opportunities for students who have the desire but may lack the academics or income to enter a four-year institution.

He also knows that community colleges are resources for older workers and employers who wish to upgrade their employees' skills.

With Mr. Kelly remaining at the helm, the system is should continue to improve its level of excellence.

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