For­mer CSM pres­i­dent dies at 85

Sine cred­ited with start of La Plata cam­pus, ex­pan­sion to Calvert, St. Mary’s coun­ties

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

John Sine, the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land’s sec­ond pres­i­dent, died at his Swan Point home on July 6. He was 85.

Born in Washington, D.C., Sine moved to Charles County at age 14, grad­u­at­ing from Lackey High School, at the time in In­dian Head, in 1949.

He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1954, and af­ter­ward, at­tended

the Univer­sity of Mary­land Col­lege Park, where he ob­tained a Bachelor of Arts in English, and New York Univer­sity, where he ob­tained a Mas­ters of Arts in Dra­matic Literature.

He later ob­tained his doc­tor­ate in Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Administration from Catholic Univer­sity of Amer­ica in 1972.

He mar­ried his high school sweet­heart Joan in 1959. The two had lost touch when John Sine joined the mil­i­tary, but re­con­nected af­ter Joan’s first hus­band,

a U.S. Air Force pi­lot, was killed in a jet crash.

Joan Sine had two chil­dren from her first mar­riage, and she and John went on to have four more chil­dren to­gether. Twelve grand­chil­dren and two great-grand­chil­dren fol­lowed.

“He and Joan were just an ideal cou­ple,” said State Sen. Thomas “Mac” Mid­dle­ton (D-Charles), a for­mer stu­dent and long­time friend. “They sup­ported each other in ever ything they did.”

Sine be­gan teach­ing English and phi­los­o­phy at the newly es­tab­lished Charles County Com­mu­nity Col­lege, in 1961.

“John’s out­stand­ing qual­ity was to in­spire stu­dents to learn and to

push them­selves to do a bet­ter job,” Mid­dle­ton said.

He be­came dean of the col­lege in 1965 and served in that po­si­tion for the next 17 years. In that role, Mid­dle­ton said Sine worked closely with the col­lege’s first pres­i­dent, Ju­lian Carsey.

“He was an ex­cel­lent leader, and he had a clear vi­sion that he shared with his first pres­i­dent, Dr. Carsey, of how the col­lege should ex­pand to serve all South­ern Mary­land,” Mid­dle­ton said. “They were a team.”

CSM Pro­fes­sor Rich Si­cil­iano started teach­ing at the col­lege in 1968. He said that at the time, there weren’t enough tra­di­tional col­lege stu­dents to keep the

col­lege fi­nan­cially sta­ble, and so Sine looked for nontra­di­tional pro­grams that pro­moted work­force devel­op­ment.

“He be­lieved that if we could get the pro­gram, the stu­dents would come,” Si­cil­iano said. “He was an ex­pert at see­ing what was needed and fig­ur­ing out a way of pro­vid­ing it.”

In 1982, Sine be­came the col­lege’s sec­ond pres­i­dent.

“As pres­i­dent, Dr. Sine had a vi­sion for what the col­lege could be and had the skill and tenac­ity needed to turn that vi­sion into the re­al­ity that is the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land. John helped shep­herd the col­lege from its in­fancy in the 1960’s to

the vi­brant, mul­ti­cam­pus in­sti­tu­tion that it is to­day,” Bill Comey, CSM’s vice pres­i­dent of stu­dent and in­struc­tional sup­port ser­vices, said in an email. Comey worked with Sine from 1985 un­til Sine’s re­tire­ment in 1998.

Un­der Sine, CSM ex­panded its pres­ence into Calvert and St. Mary’s coun­ties. Sine also over­saw the build­ing of the La Plata cam­pus’s Learn­ing Re­sources Cen­ter, Fine Arts Cen­ter, Health Tech­nol­ogy Build­ing and Cen­ter for Busi­ness and In­dus­try. In 2012, the con­fer­ence room in the BI build­ing was named the “Dr.

John M. Sine Con­fer­ence Room” in his honor.

For­mer Board of Trustees mem­ber Mike Besche served as vice chair­man from 1993 to 1994 and as chair­man from 1994 to 1996.

“As a trustee at the col­lege I watched the hard work re­quired for the tran­si­tion of be­com­ing a re­gional col­lege un­der John’s lead­er­ship. He was in­stru­men­tal,” Besche said in an email.

Sine also served in a num­ber of lead­er­ship po­si­tions out­side the col­lege, in­clud­ing the Charles County Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment

Com­mis­sion Board of Direc­tors, Charles County Cham­ber of Com­merce Board of Direc­tors and many oth­ers, as well as chair­ing the Mary­land Coun­cil of Com­mu­nity Col­lege Pres­i­dents and the Gover­nor’s U.S. 301 South Cor­ri­dor Trans­porta­tion Task Force.

“Grow­ing up and then liv­ing in the com­mu­nity, it is a very spe­cial role that you have when you be­come a leader in that com­mu­nity,” said his daugh­ter, Tara Lan­dis.

Sine served over 16 years as pres­i­dent of CSM, re­tir­ing in 1999.

“He rec­og­nized tal­ent, and how to de­velop tal­ent. He spent years nur­tur­ing tal­ent and bring­ing in tal­ent,” Mid­dle­ton said. “When

Dr. Elaine Ryan took over as pres­i­dent, the tran­si­tion was ab­so­lutely seam­less, and that’s what a good leader does.”

Sine re­tired to Swan Point and pur­sued his pas­sions for fish­ing, golf­ing and read­ing, Lan­dis said.

In ad­di­tion, John Sine pub­lished a trio of nov­els, “Cuck­old Creek” (2008), “Tobacco Styx Bridge” (2010) and “Trin­ity Is­land” (2011) set in a fic­tional ver­sion of Charles County.

Lan­dis said that when he re­tired, her fa­ther found time to pur­sue his in­ter­est in writ­ing.

“It was very fun for him, but it was also one of his most chal­leng­ing un­der­tak­ings,” Lan­dis said.

Lan­dis said her fa­ther’s ed­u­ca­tional

phi­los­o­phy was to make ed­u­ca­tion open and ac­ces­si­ble to all.

“He use to say it didn’t mat­ter what you go to school for, just go to school and the op­por­tu­ni­ties will come to you,” Lan­dis said. “He was just very ded­i­cated to bring­ing ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to the peo­ple of South­ern Mary­land.”

Mid­dle­ton said Sine worked hard to make CSM the mul­ti­cam­pus premier com­mu­nity col­lege it is to­day.

“Peo­ple just take it for granted that all of this just hap­pened,” Mid­dle­ton said. “It took years to make all this hap­pen, and John was the driv­ing force be­hind much of it.”

Comey said Sine had a sharp

wit and a keen mind, and was al­ways look­ing for ways to move the col­lege for ward.

“It is hard to look around the col­lege and not see a fa­cil­ity, a pro­gram or a ser­vice that has its roots in his work,” Comey said. “Dr. Sine’s legacy is seen every­where at CSM.”

Vis­i­ta­tion will be held to­day (Wed­nes­day) from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Are­hart-Echols Fu­neral Home, 211 St. Mary’s Av­enue, La Plata. A Mass of Chris­tian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Thurs­day at Sacred Heart Church, 201 St. Mary’s Ave., in La Plata, with a grave­side ser­vice to fol­low at 11:30 a.m. at St. Ig­natius Church, 8855 Chapel Point Road, Port Tobacco.


Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land 1998 file photo of John Sine, sec­ond pres­i­dent of CSM, be­fore his re­tire­ment that year.

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