Col­lege cel­e­brates ‘Di­a­mond Decade Ma­nia’

CSM rem­i­nisces on suc­cess, looks to fu­ture at 60th an­niver­sary event

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

The Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land (CSM) held its “Di­a­mond Decade Ma­nia” schol­ar­ship fundrais­ing event on Satur­day at the La Plata cam­pus to cel­e­brate the col­lege’s 60th an­niver­sary and rem­i­nisce through the years with alumni, fac­ulty, staff and com­mu­nity mem­bers.

The cos­tume-friendly event

fea­tured sev­eral guest speak­ers, award/schol­ar­ship pre­sen­ta­tions, a gold di­a­mond neck­lace raf­fle draw­ing, photo booth, live mu­sic by Back­fin Band, drinks from Qual­ity Street Kitchen and Cater­ing as well as an ar­ray of food trucks. At­ten­dees, some of whom were dressed in the style that suited their mem­ory of cam­pus life, heard from lo­cal county representatives and elected of­fi­cials as they helped CSM high­light its di­a­mond an­niver­sar y decade by decade.

“We’re cel­e­brat­ing 60 years of chang­ing stu­dents’ lives and mak­ing our com­mu­nity bet­ter,” said CSM Pres­i­dent Maureen Mur­phy. “I can’t think of any­thing bet­ter than to come out tonight and just rec­og­nize the con­tri­bu­tions of so many peo­ple who helped im­prove our com­mu­nity, and those who are im­prov­ing the eco­nomic pos­si­bil­i­ties for oth­ers. I’m ex­cited; it can’t get bet­ter than this.”

As the col­lege’s leader, Mur­phy said she is proud to work with a tal­ented group of fac­ulty and staff. Thanks to the big hearts of CSM’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and pro­fes­sors who are com­mit­ted to mak­ing the learn­ing process worth­while, Mur­phy said she be­lieves that stu­dents de­serve the best of the best.

“They come to­gether for our stu­dents and know that that’s im­por­tant,” Mur­phy said. “Af­ter all, our stu­dents are the fu­ture of our so­ci­ety and we need to take care of them. We need to give them all the sup­port they need to achieve their dreams and that’s what we’re about — help­ing to pro­vide that path­way.”

When it comes to chang­ing lives and mak­ing the com­mu­nity bet­ter, St. Mary’s County res­i­dents Vinod and Ila Shah, who are both doc­tors, do­nated $100,000 to help CSM cre­ate a new schol­ar­ship for med­i­cal stu­dents.

“When you sup­port ed­u­ca­tion, you are giv­ing a gift which is re­ally re­mark­able,” Vinod said. “Be­ing a doc­tor, I think sav­ing lives is im­por­tant but with ed­u­ca­tion, it’s more than sav­ing lives. You are mak­ing a life.”

“We have been prac­tic­ing in the com­mu­nity since 1974. I have seen the stu­dents, from all over the place, do­ing the work and try­ing to get an ed­u­ca­tion,” said Ila, a re­tired pe­di­a­tri­cian who served on the CSM Foun­da­tion’s board of di­rec­tors for 2017-18. “I’m very proud of [CSM] be­cause of the sup­port they have given. We are em­ploy­ing a lot of med­i­cal stu­dents from here [in­clud­ing] the nurses and all of the health al­liances. This schol­ar­ship [that we are start­ing] is specif­i­cally for the nurses, med­i­cal as­sis­tants and the health al­liance.”

Vinod is happy to see the steady progress that CSM has made in the com­mu­nity since its ear­lier days when it was called Charles County Com­mu­nity Col­lege. He said it is only fit­ting to do­nate to a col­lege that sup­ports the dreams of its stu­dents.

“The pro­grams and the fac­ulty have im­proved. The stu­dents have done well,” Vinod said. “Many of the stu­dents have also prac­ticed their trade in the area [that they stud­ied]. So we’re not only sup­port­ing their ed­u­ca­tion but also sup­port­ing the com­mu­nity and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. We are very for­tu­nate and priv­i­leged to be in this com­mu­nity. We’ve been rea­son­ably suc­cess­ful and are fo­cused on pro­vid­ing health­care as a No. 1 pri­or­ity. [CSM] has taken ini­tia­tive in train­ing nurses, physi­cian as­sis­tants and med­i­cal as­sis­tants. So, it’s only nat­u­ral that we all work to­gether.”

For­mer Charles County com­mis­sioner Danny Mayor, who grad­u­ated in 1961 with just nine other class­mates, re­mem­bers when CSM was known as Charles County Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

“It was noth­ing like this. We had our classes at night in the old La Plata High School,” he said. “I be­came ac­tive in the alumni as­so­ci­a­tion in the early ‘70s and got ap­pointed to the board of trustees here in 1979. I was on the board for 15 years and chair­man of the board for one year. I was also a county com­mis­sioner and went to the House of Del­e­gates. But the most im­por­tant mes­sage I think is what this in­sti­tu­tion has done for the qual­ity of life here of folks in Charles County.”

In 1981, Mayor and an­other board of trustee mem­ber at the time each do­nated $5 to establish the CSM Foun­da­tion.

Mayor said he is in awe of how much CSM has grown over the years and cred­its the col­lege for help­ing him achieve his per­sonal and pro­fes­sional goals.

“It’s a place of ma­tu­rity,” Mayor said. “Some 30 years later, I was sworn-in as county com­mis­sioner on the very stage where I grad­u­ated from com­mu­nity col­lege.”

“Thou­sands of peo­ple like me would’ve never have gone to col­lege or got­ten a qual­ity of life that they and their fam­i­lies have now if it wasn’t for [CSM],” Mayor added. “Over the past 60 years, [CSM] has had some of the most de­voted em­ploy­ees that made this place what it is to­day. I don’t think any­body can say enough pos­i­tive things about this place.”

Mur­phy, who was se­lected as CSM’s fifth pres­i­dent last year, said the role of a com­mu­nity col­lege has never been more im­por­tant than it is to­day. She is hum­bled and hon­ored to serve at a pivotal moment in history, es­pe­cially for a col­lege known as a strong force in the re­gion for in­creas­ing

the fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity of South­ern Mar yland res­i­dents.

“It’s a great mile­stone for the col­lege and for the com­mu­nity,” Calvert County Cham­ber of Com­merce Pres­i­dent and CEO Bob Car­pen­ter said. “CSM does won­der­ful things in all three coun­ties. We’re very proud of the Prince Fred­er­ick cam­pus and the ex­pan­sion that has taken place there over the years. As a com­mu­nity col­lege grad­u­ate, not here but in Cal­i­for­nia where I grew up, I see the strong need for com­mu­nity col­leges. It’s not just for stu­dents; they pro­vide many op­por­tu­ni­ties for re-en­ter­ing the work­force. It’s par­tic­u­larly great for me be­cause it al­lows peo­ple to start or join busi­nesses, and be­come mem­bers of the cham­ber of com­merce.”

Six-term Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles), who re­cently lost his re-elec­tion bid for a sev­enth term, grad­u­ated from CSM in 1965. Middleton said he wanted to start a schol­ar­ship fund in honor of his late brother, a re­cov­er­ing al­co­holic who was iron­i­cally killed by a drunk driver.

Dur­ing Satur­day’s event, Middleton pre­sented a $10,500 check to Mur­phy on­stage which he said was a very spe­cial moment.

“[My brother] spent the last 17 years of his life, every day, just help­ing peo­ple with ad­dic­tion prob­lems,” Middleton said. “We had this fundraiser all set up, an­tic­i­pat­ing that I was go­ing to con­tinue run­ning in my po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. But we de­cided to just go ahead and do it and use the pro­ceeds to start a schol­ar­ship fund in his honor.”

“It’ll be for those stu­dents that can’t ac­cess a Pell Grant. We have this un­der­stand­ing with [CSM] that if there’s some­body with an ad­dic­tion prob­lem, we will try to help straighten their life out and rec­om­mend them for this schol­ar­ship once we get it up and run­ning,” Middleton con­tin­ued. “Hope­fully, there are some young peo­ple out there that have had a prob­lem with ad­dic­tion but want to turn their life around. This will be of great help to them.”

Pro­ceeds from CSM’s Di­a­mond Decade Ma­nia event sup­port the col­lege’s Di­a­mond Schol­ar­ship and stu­dent ser­vices. To learn more, send an email to csm­foun­da­tion@csmd.edu or call 301-934-7647.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES

Del. Edith Pat­ter­son (D-Charles), third from right, throws up the peace sign as she joins oth­ers for a photo dur­ing the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land’s Di­a­mond Decade Ma­nia cel­e­bra­tion and schol­ar­ship fundrais­ing event on Satur­day in La Plata.

CSM Pres­i­dent Maureen Mur­phy smiles as she pre­pares to re­ceive a $10,500 check from six-term Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles), who started a schol­ar­ship in honor of his late brother, who com­mit­ted more than a decade of his life help­ing other peo­ple with ad­dic­tion prob­lems.

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