Ch­e­sa­peake College names new president

Dorchester Star - - LOCAL -

WYE MILLS — The Ch­e­sa­peake College Board of Trustees has se­lected Dr. Clif­ford P. Cop­per­smith to be the school’s sixth president. Dr. Cop­per­smith was cho­sen by a unan­i­mous vote of the trustees from a pool of 72 ap­pli­cants in a na­tion­wide search that was nar­rowed down to four fi­nal­ists who vis­ited the cam­pus in late Fe­bru­ary.

Cop­per­smith, 55, is cur­rently dean of City College, an em­bed­ded com­mu­nity college within Mon­tana State Univer­sity Billings with 1,400 full and part-time stu­dents. He’s been the school’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer in charge of aca­demics, stu­dent af­fairs, fi­nance and fa­cil­i­ties since July 2015.

Prior to

City College, Cop­per­smith held sev­eral ad­min­is­tra­tive and aca­demic po­si­tions in­clud­ing over 19 years at two in­sti­tu­tions: Penn­syl­va­nia College of Tech­nol­ogy, a spe­cial mis­sion af­fil­i­ate of The Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity; and Utah State Univer­sity-East­ern, formerly the College of East­ern Utah.

“Dr. Cop­per­smith’s back­ground and ex­pe­ri­ence were a great match for the qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ex­pec­ta­tions es­tab­lished at the out­set of our na­tional search for a new president,” Ch­e­sa­peake College Board of Trustees Chair Blenda Ar­mis­tead said. “We were look­ing for some­one with a proven track record in de­vel­op­ing pro­grams to ad­dress work­force needs in the com­mu­nity, and he brings that ex­pe­ri­ence to the Mid-Shore. Dr. Cop­per­smith also un­der­stands and has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence with the trans­fer mis­sion of com­mu­nity col­leges. As an in­di­vid­ual who be­gan his higher ed­u­ca­tion in a com­mu­nity college in up­state New York, he is com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that Ch­e­sa­peake College will serve as a gate­way to fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion for all of our res­i­dents.”

Ar­mis­tead noted Cop­per­smith’s abil­ity to col­lab­o­rate with pub­lic school lead­ers, lo­cal gov­ern­ment, and busi­ness and in­dus­try part­ners to de­velop both credit and non-credit pro­grams fo­cused specif­i­cally on work­force needs. These have in­cluded pro­grams in emer­gency man­age­ment, nurs­ing and al­lied health, com­puter science, metal and con­struc­tion trades, diesel tech­nol­ogy and au­to­mo­tive re­pair.

“Clif f has worked ef fec­tively with state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment, and this was one of our pri­or­i­ties in our search for a new president,” she said. “He un­der­stands the eco­nomic and so­cial chal­lenges in ru­ral ar­eas sim­i­lar to the Shore. More­over, the trustees are con­fi­dent in his abil­ity to strengthen the sense of com­mu­nity among all con­stituen­cies within the college, which was an­other ex­pec­ta­tion es­tab­lished our new president.”

Com­mu­nity en­gage­ment will be among Cop­per­smith’s first pri­or­i­ties.

“Right off the bat, I want to es­tab­lish those re­la­tion­ships and con­nec­tions that are so crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of the college,” he said. “I an­tic­i­pate work­ing closely with the mem­bers of the Board of Trustees, civic and pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion lead­ers and the lo­cal busi­ness net­work to strengthen Ch­e­sa­peake and its vi­tal role in ser ving the five-county re­gion as a cen­ter for higher ed­u­ca­tion, cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.”

Cop­per­smith met with the board and par­tic­i­pated in on-cam­pus fo­rums with stu­dents, fac­ulty, staff and MidShore com­mu­nity lead­ers last month.

“I had a great ex­change with all those groups when I in­ter­viewed,” he said. “I was ex­tremely im­pressed with the qual­ity of the cam­pus and its fa­cil­i­ties and the en­gage­ment of the fac­ulty and staff, and I con­sid­ered my meet­ing with the stu­dents the high­light of the visit.”

Cop­per­smith and his wife Kath­leen have strong per­sonal con­nec­tions to the re­gion.

“Kathy and I are ex­cited to re­turn to a part of the world we love in which we’ve had many great ex­pe­ri­ences,” he said. “We were mar­ried in Kens­ing­ton out­side D.C.; spent the first night of our hon­ey­moon in Chestertown; and for 11 years, the Chin­coteague and As­sateague Is­land seashores were our fam­ily’s fa­vorite va­ca­tion spot. The East­ern Shore has been a spe­cial place for us for that rea­son and oth­ers.”

Born in the West Indies, Cop­per­smith said salt­wa­ter is in his blood. He looks for­ward to sail­ing, kayak­ing and ca­noe­ing on lo­cal wa­ters and vis­it­ing the beach.

The Cop­per­smiths have three adult chil­dren — in­clud­ing two liv­ing in Philadelphia and Pitts­burgh — three grand­chil­dren and close fam­ily mem­bers in Frederick and North­ern Vir­ginia.

A for­mer com­mis­sioned of­fi­cer in the U.S. Army Re­serve and Army Na­tional Guard and an in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer with the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency, Cop­per­smith be­lieves strongly in ex­e­cut­ing the mis­sion of the college which is crit­i­cal to his vi­sion for Ch­e­sa­peake.

“It comes from my mil­i­tary back­ground,” he ex­plained. “Al­most ev­ery­thing I do on a daily ba­sis is premised on serv­ing the mis­sion of the school and its stu­dents. I’ve been suc­cess­ful in fig­ur­ing out what the strengths of an in­sti­tu­tion are, what its mis­sion is, and then con­nect­ing that to the com­mu­nity I ser ve.”

His ser­vice back­ground also in­cludes 45 years in scout­ing with the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica.

Cop­per­smith holds four aca­demic de­grees: a doc­tor­ate in his­tory and an­thro­pol­ogy from Ok­la­homa State Univer­sity; a mas­ter’s in his­tory from St. Bon­aven­ture Univer­sity in New York State; a bach­e­lor’s in po­lit­i­cal science and Latin Amer­i­can stud­ies from Brigham Young Univer­sity in Utah; and an as­so­ciate in so­cial science from Jamestown Com­mu­nity College in New York State.


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