Arundel college official to depart

Vice President Sbrega will assume top post at school in Mass.

June 27, 2000|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

After three years at Anne Arundel Community College, John J. Sbrega is leaving his job as vice president for academic and student affairs for the opportunity to take the top job elsewhere - the presidency of Bristol Community College in Fall River, Mass.

Sbrega, 58, who will officially assume his new role Saturday, described it as "an opportunity of a lifetime ... although it was with mixed emotions."

He will be the third president at Bristol, which enrolls 6,200 students, full- and part-time, at a main campus and three satellites. The college serves the southeastern Massachusetts region. Sbrega described it as roughly half the size of Anne Arundel Community College.

During his time at AACC, much of Sbrega's work focused on his Student Success initiative, a series of activities designed to highlight student achievement. The program "included working with under-prepared students and providing support for them, but it also dealt with excellent students, and challenging them," he said.

Some of the program's initiatives include determining whether courses deliver promised skills and knowledge, and promoting writing proficiency in disciplines such as math and science.

Sbrega said student success can be defined "as the reason that each student comes to us."

"It might not be for a degree or a certificate, it could be for a special skill, one or two courses, or competency in a foreign language."

Sbrega has spent his 26-year career in higher education at community colleges. He started in Virginia, teaching history for five years at the Richmond campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. He founded the division of social sciences at the Virginia Beach campus of Tidewater Community College.

At the Community College of Rhode Island, Sbrega was assistant dean for academic affairs, then the founding academic officer when the college opened a campus in Providence.

"It's my belief that community colleges are the most exciting dimension of higher education in this country," said Sbrega, who earned his bachelor's degree from Union College, and his master's degree and doctorate in history from Georgetown University.

"We have to be so flexible and so responsive, and we can do things quickly and gear up to serve students and meet the community's needs," he said.

"One of my favorite descriptions of the community college philosophy is that we provide an open door to all students. It represents for many students the last best hope for a better life through education."

AACC reported record enrollment this year - more than 11,000, including 3,255 full-time students.

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