Out and About (Sort Of): Celebratory Highlights at Chesapeake College

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Groundbreakings and building dedications are always hopeful, filled with promise for the future and gratitude for the past.

That was the case when Chesapeake College dedicated its new, 100,000 square-foot Health Professions and Athletics Center on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. This $37 million building at the Wye Mills campus is larger than the combined size of the college’s original four buildings.

I long have marveled at this educational institution supported, seemingly harmoniously, by five counties, a remarkable feat when you consider that counties typically vie for resources and attention.

Chesapeake epitomizes the value of regional cooperation, which, while hard to achieve, is well worth the effort.

Community colleges are invaluable assets among our nation’s educational offerings. They provide workforce development for people of all ages. They provide a transition for high school graduates unable either academically or financially to attend a four-year college. Their adult education, shaped flexibly by the needs of the community, has always been exceptional.

The new building illustrates the close connection between Chesapeake College and area hospitals, specifically in the nursing profession. The college offers an accredited Associate of Science in Nursing Degree Program.

Since 2003, Chesapeake College, like many of its counterparts in Maryland, is the site of the Eastern Shore Higher Education Center, where students may earn bachelor’s masters and doctoral degrees on the Wye Mills campus through partnerships with the state’s four-year colleges and universities.

Great credit goes to Dr. Barbara Viniar, president, and the board of trustees for acquiring funding for the building, with 75 percent coming from the state, 25 percent by the five counties and the rest raised privately. Fundraising, whether public or private, is arduous, requiring patience and persistence.

And I give kudos to Dr. Viniar, Chesapeake’s first woman president, for something else: having attended many dedications, groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings, I have never heard eight public officials speak so succinctly. Each expressed pride and congratulations—in no more than two minutes per speaker.

While the wind turbine so evident to motorists on Route 50 has become a signature element for the college, the contribution made by Chesapeake College since it first opened its doors to 258 evening students, operating then out of Queen Anne’s County High School, to the socio-economic foundation of the Mid Shore generates true power and reliability.

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