Remarks: Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution David Skorton at Chesapeake College

Editor’s Note: Dr. David Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, gave the commencement address in Wye Mills yesterday.  We have reprinted his remarks in their entirety.
Thank you for that introduction, Dr. Viniar (Barbara). I’m not surprised that you’ve been such a successful and innovative leader here at Chesapeake College, given your earlier successes, including your excellent track record leading the Institute for Community College Development when we were colleagues at Cornell. Thanks for inviting me to be here today.

It’s my pleasure to be here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for this auspicious occasion. Go Skipjacks!

And let me share one of many congratulations to the 2017 graduating class! Well done!

As I thought about what I wanted to share with you and your families and friends today, the state of the world brought to mind a particularly relevant phrase: “May you live in interesting times.”

Supposedly a Chinese curse, there’s no evidence it is actually a curse, nor that it’s Chinese. Perhaps we can think of it as an early example of fake news.

If you are predisposed to thinking of our interesting times as a curse, you would certainly have justification to do so. This graduating class will have to contend with the effects of climate change. You will face a job market which is likely to become increasingly uncertain because of the proliferation of automation. And we are all living through a hyper-partisan era in which our elected officials seem less likely than ever to seek common ground to find solutions.

Given the realities on the ground, it is all too easy to become discouraged if not cynical.

However, I think these really are interesting times in the truest sense of the word. They hold great promise for the future. We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us, if only each of us and all of us grab hold of it.

I believe that wholeheartedly, because when things have been at their bleakest—wars, depressions, existential crises—the American people have always found a way to persevere and thrive. And I believe that we can and will do this again.

Despite your achievement today, it is understandable that you may feel somewhat anxious about your future or even be unsure what you want to do next. But the fact that you’ve taken on this challenge shows you have the fortitude to be successful in life. It’s true whether you arrived fresh out of high school or came later to continue your education; whether your next destination is the workforce or a four-year school.

So, before you feel the urge to rush out and prove my optimism right—or at least to get out of these robes and celebrate somewhere—I’d like to tell you why I feel so good about our collective future.

As the Secretary of the Smithsonian, I get to see what smart, dedicated people do every day. Not just the 6500 employees who work for us, but also the 6300 volunteers who work at our 19 museums, nine research centers, and the National Zoo.

In many ways, museums, like institutions of higher learning, are going through a massive transformation. Much of that is due to the pervasive influence of technology, from interactivity to communication to outreach. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the explosion of connectivity brought about by the internet and the ubiquity of smartphones.

Author Clay Shirky has written extensively about the kinds of active and engaged networks of people that social media can enable. In a TED talk, he called our internet-connected age, “the largest increase in expressive capability in human history.”

I see a lot of that expressiveness from the Smithsonian’s digital volunteers. Outnumbering our on-site volunteers, this army of 8700 people around the world transcribes Smithsonian documents and data online. They are critically important to our mammoth effort to digitize much of our collection of 154 million objects. In this way, technology is helping us reach people globally with our collections. But it is also enabling the people who help us to do so.

The power of social media also becomes obvious when groups pool their money to accomplish goals that don’t receive enough funding through traditional means. This crowdfunding can take the form of philanthropy like the viral “ice bucket challenge” that raised 100 million dollars in a month for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis—ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. That money led directly to researchers identifying a gene associated with the disease, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatments.

The Smithsonian has also been the beneficiary of people’s collective generosity. The National Air and Space Museum had a successful Kickstarter campaign to preserve the spacesuit that Neil Armstrong wore during his historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

Technology is also increasingly giving hope to the underserved around the world. In developing nations, solar power, microloans, and clean water are lifelines to modernity.

Bringing technology to underserved populations has made huge differences in people’s ability to care for, educate, and feed their families. For instance, between 2011 and 2014, the explosion in mobile technology in developing nations led to a twenty percent drop in people who didn’t have bank accounts. This is a crucial development since, as World Bank

Group President Jim Yong Kim said in 2015, “Access to financial services can serve as a bridge out of poverty.”

The tools of the digital age also allow people from a large variety of backgrounds to engage in what has become known as “citizen science,” collecting data on a massive scale and giving the naturally curious the ability to experience first-hand the scientific method. One such program that our Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute takes part in is the

Global Amphibian BioBlitz. Its aim is to observe one of every amphibian in the world and create a database to study and protect them. So far, more than 16,000 amateur herpetologists have participated.

My outlook continues to be optimistic because so many of these technologies are being deployed by people for the benefit of their fellow human beings. Technology is a powerful tool, but ultimately it is only as important and effective as the people who wield it. The collective power of people to do good is so frequently underappreciated. Working toward a common goal, people can topple dictators, help cure disease, and change the course of history.

Making our individual voices heard is still one of the most powerful aspects of the United States. That truth is at the heart of our democracy. It is why people from around the world still aspire to the American Dream. I’ve had the good fortune to meet many of them at our National Museum of American History, where each year many people from distant shores come to be sworn in as new citizens in naturalization ceremonies. As someone whose father was a Russian immigrant and a naturalized citizen, the annual event is always a moving experience for me. I challenge anyone who meets these people and hears their stories of how they got here to question their patriotism. Seeing America through their eyes is to truly appreciate the ideals this nation embodies.

Immigration has always been important for the diversity it has brought to our nation. When people talk about diversity, they usually mean ethnicity, gender, or background. That is certainly important, for what is the American Dream but the notion that all have an equal opportunity to succeed? Thankfully, younger generations are already on board with a more diverse society.

But just as critical for the dynamism and innovation that drives the U.S. is a type of diversity that author Scott Page identifies in his book, “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies.”

He addresses the value of “cognitive diversity”—the differences in how people think. Everyone sees the world a bit differently, everyone has different strengths, and these different perspectives facilitate problem-solving.

In fact, his research showed that the most diverse groups consistently outperformed the most talented groups.

And here is another reason for you to be optimistic today: education is still the greatest predictor of earnings in the workforce.

According to the Department of Education, college graduates with a bachelor’s degree typically earn 66 percent more than high school graduates. Over the course of a lifetime, that translates into a 1-million-dollar gap between a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree. And in three years, approximately two-thirds of job openings will require postsecondary education or training, including associate’s degrees.

Colleges like Chesapeake play a critical role for their students, their communities and the country. That is why I have for decades admired and worked closely with colleagues in community colleges in Iowa, New York State, and beyond.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, associate’s degrees awarded increased from 634,000 to more than 1 million from the 2002 school year to the 2012 school year, a jump of 59%, more than the rate that bachelor’s degrees rose.

And an associate’s degree provides tremendous value. The College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges found that the average 2016 tuition of a community college is about a third of a 4-year in-state public school. And it’s about a tenth of a 4-year private university.

Even more impressive is the value an associate’s degree can provide once you hit the workforce. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workplace, about 30% of Americans with associate’s degrees earn more than those with bachelor’s degrees.

It is why there is a push to make community colleges free of charge, as the state of Tennessee recently did for all adults without a college degree or certificate.

Another encouraging and quite important aspect of community colleges is their forward-looking devotion to a robust emphasis on the liberal arts. According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicator Project, the share of humanities-focused associates’ degrees grew from 25.8 percent in 1987 to 38.9 percent in 2013.

The liberal arts are a big part of the curriculum and culture at Chesapeake College, which I think is so important today. You know that the arts and culture enrich individuals and communities intrinsically and practically. That understanding is reflected in the college’s vision, “to prepare students as independent learners who are intellectually competent, technologically proficient, and who share the responsibilities and privileges of global citizenship.”

Those are the very skills that the arts, humanities, and social sciences help provide. They improve our ability to think critically, analyze, synthesize, and communicate. They provide a historical and cultural perspective. All of which can benefit scientists, society, and employers, so I know that you are prepared for the next phases of your lives, no matter what comes your way.

This past Earth Day, I stood on a stage not too different from this, looking at a large gathering of scientists, environmentalists, thought leaders, and students not too different from you.

They were there as part of the Smithsonian’s first Earth Optimism Summit, a conference of people working on one of our most critical challenges, the environment.
If there is something that should be daunting, it’s the state of our planet. Increased floods and droughts, dwindling natural resources, increased opportunity for pandemic disease—all seem like intractable problems with no easy solutions.

But the people who work on these very real problems weren’t intimidated. They were engaged. They were energized. And, yes, they were optimistic. They knew that nearly every problem has a solution, that every challenge is also an opportunity.

As I looked over that crowd, I was encouraged and hopeful, just as I am standing here today.

So, before I leave you today, as a long-time educator I would like to give you one last assignment in a few parts.

First, imagine the world as you would like it to look in five years. Ten years. Then figure out how to get there.

Second, don’t let life’s inevitable challenges dissuade you from making a difference. Author Dr. Angela Duckworth has written about “grit,” the perseverance and passion toward achieving one’s goals, that her research shows is more essential to success than talent. You need to be possessed of that if you want to go as far as you can.

Third, be adaptable. Life is likely to throw several curveballs at you, for good and bad. Having agility of mind and spirit will allow you to roll with the punches and come out ahead.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t become cynical.

 

Mid-Shore Arts: Chesapeake College’s Rob Thompson on a Career Path in the Arts

When one thinks about a local community college, there is an immediate thought of such things as vocational training or preparatory work before entering a four-year college, but rarely thinking that young people should attend these institutions if they are considering a career in the arts. Chesapeake College once again challenges that assumption.

In fact, just in the field of the dramatic arts, approximately twenty-five students each year head to the Wye Mills campus as their first step in breaking into the competitive world of performing arts. Or, put another way, about the same number the College seeks for its new agricultural degree program.

That is one of the reasons that the Spy sought out a conversation with Dr. Robert Thompson who heads up the theatre/humanities program at Chesapeake College. And one of the take away messages of this short chat was the clear evidence that students can indeed find a pathway to a career in the arts.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake College and its theatre program please go here.

Chesapeake College Announces President Barbara Viniar’s Departure; Former President Stuart Bounds to Become Interim

The Chesapeake College Board of Trustees has announced that Dr. Barbara Viniar’s term as President of the College will conclude on July 1, 2017. The Trustees appreciate Dr. Viniar’s efforts on behalf of the College over the past nine years and wish her well in her future endeavors.

Dr. Stuart Bounds has been appointed Interim President of the College effective July 1, 2017. Dr. Bounds retired from the College in 2008 after 11 years as president. Since retiring as President, Dr. Bounds has remained active in the community college field, both as a consultant and as an adjunct professor of political science at Chesapeake. The Board is delighted that Dr. Bounds has agreed to return to the College in this interim role and believes that his executive experience at Chesapeake and deep understanding of the Mid-Shore community will be a great asset to the College and to the Board during the transition period.

The search for a new president of the College will commence this summer. The Board will engage and consult with the College community, the College’s five supporting counties and other key stakeholders in the development of a plan for the search, and in the evaluation and selection of the sixth president of Chesapeake College.

Chesapeake College has provided 50 years of outstanding service to the Mid-Shore community and the Board is committed to finding an exceptional community college leader to guide the College into the future. With that leadership and the extraordinary talent and resources within the College and throughout the community, the College’s role as the primary provider of higher education and workforce training in the region will continue to expand and, thereby help to ensure a bright future for the Mid-Shore.

Chesapeake to Honor Two Women at 2017 Pride of the Peake

Jenny Rhodes and Dr. Ruth Ann Jones, both Chesapeake College advocates with decades of community service, will be honored as the 2017 Pride of the Peake: Honoring Scholarship through Service recipients on Thursday, May 11.

Ms. Rhodes is the Senior Agent and Extension Educator for Agriculture/Natural Resources in Queen Anne’s County. She is also a tenured educator with the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.  A Queen Anne’s County native, Ms. Rhodes assisted in developing and promoting Chesapeake’s new agriculture program.

Dr. Ruth Ann Jones and Jenny Rhodes

Dr. Jones is Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer with University of Maryland Shore Regional Health. She graduated from the Macqueen Gibbs Willis School of Nursing and is a member of the advisory board for the Chesapeake College MGW School of Nursing. Dr. Jones earned a bachelor’s degree from Wesley College, a master’s degree from Catholic University of America, and a doctorate from Wilmington University.

In a new feature for the annual Pride of the Peake event, a scholarship will be created in each honoree’s name. The Jenny Rhodes Endowed Scholarship and The Ruth Ann Jones Endowed Scholarship will be available to local students.

“There is no better way to honor these individuals than by raising funds for scholarships in their names,” said Chesapeake College President Barbara A. Viniar. “Scholarship recipients will eventually give back to our community and carry on our honorees’ tradition of service.”

For tickets, sponsorship information or to donate to a scholarship, please contact Director of Advancement Elizabeth Devlin at edevlin@chesapeake.edu

The Faces of Mental Illness: The Photography of Michael Nye at Chesapeake College

While it may be true that most people on the Mid-Shore have a very real and distinct impression of the toll of mental illness in our society, it still is hard for many of use to truly understand the profound impact that these conditions has on victims and their families.

A new art exhibition, sponsored by the Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore in partnership with Chesapeake College in May, might very well help change some of those perceptions using the stunning images and oral narratives of those victims by award winning  photographer Michael Nye.

Some fifty photographs and recorded messages of people who suffer from various forms of mental illness will be on display as part of a major educational effort to remove the stigma and misunderstanding of a growing problem in our communities.

The Spy spoke the Association’s director, Jackie Davis, last week at Bullitt House to talk about the show and the important work of the organization in serving families impacted by mental illness throughout the Shore.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about  Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore and their opening reception, please go here 

Chesapeake College Hosts Second Saturday Event

Celebrate Second Saturday on Saturday, April 8 with an art show opening in the Leggett Gallery at the Chesapeake College Cambridge Center from 5-6:30 pm. This event is free and open to the public.

This month, the gallery features works by photographers of The Baywater Camera Club.

The Baywater Camera Club (BCC) was formed a few years ago, when a group of Cambridge photo enthusiasts saw the need for a local club to serve the needs of photographers at all skill levels.  Monthly the club brings together in a relaxed local setting people who want to learn more about or just talk about photography.  The club meets the second Wednesday of the month at the Dorchester Center for the Arts.  All meetings are open to members, potential members and the general public.  The meetings feature discussions and presentations of photography related topics.  This is followed by the popular show-tell-and critique sessions where club members bring in their photo shoots focused around the topic of the month. The club is small, new and is still finding its way, but it offers a good local opportunity to learn more about the hobby of photography.  The photographers featured in this exhibit are: Ron Berman, Lynne Browne, Craig Caldwell, Pam Montell Decraecke, Jean S. Del Sordo, Steve Del Sordo, Bill McDonnell, Kathryn Mc Knight, Terry Melius, Wendy Rue, Fran Saunders and Dee Terry.

Refreshments for the opening reception will be provided by The Wine Bar. For more information, please contact Marcie Molloy at 410-827-5825 or mamolloy@chesapeake.edu.

Chesapeake College, Mid-Shore Pro Bono Fill Need with Legal Clinic

Chesapeake College and Mid-Shore Pro Bono are continuing their collaboration to operate a legal clinic that serves college students and others from the five-county region who are unable to pay for attorney services on their own.

In the last year, Mid Shore Pro Bono and the Chesapeake College Paralegal Program have provided legal assistance to 60 citizens through the legal clinic on Chesapeake’s Wye Mills campus.

Local lawyers Edward Modell, Jimmy Persels and James Richardson volunteered to work with students from Chesapeake’s Paralegal program to assist individuals in the clinic. The free service provides access to advice on civil legal matters including bankruptcy, elder care, landlord-tenant disputes and other issues.

“The legal clinic, thanks to the dedication of volunteer attorneys, is serving our community and enhancing our paralegal program. The clinic fills a critical need for students and other area residents in need of legal assistance,” said Bridget Lowrie, J.D., Chesapeake College Assistant Professor Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies.  “This has also been a wonderful experience for our paralegal students who learn in a workplace environment before they begin their careers in private practices, prosecutors’ offices and non-profit legal agencies.”

Chesapeake student volunteers agree that the clinic provides experiential learning with real-world relevance.

“The legal clinic is a great experience for paralegal students. This is a great way for me to see firsthand a client seeking legal advice. This is also a good learning experience for me because it requires me to be organized in taking notes and preparing paperwork. This also allows me to experience different kinds of cases that may need legal help and what different rules apply to different situations,” said Amanda Dodge, a paralegal student who volunteered in the clinic.

Support for the legal clinic was provided by the Women & Girls Fund.

Individuals in need of legal services are encouraged to contact Mid-Shore Pro Bono in advance of clinic dates for initial evaluation and intake by calling 410-690-8128 or emailing info@midshoreprobono.org.  Qualified individuals will be given an appointment for the clinic.

Lucie Hughes Chosen for Leadership Maryland Class of 2017

Leadership Maryland announced today that Lucille “Lucie” Hughes, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Chesapeake College, has been chosen to participate in the professional development program dedicated to building a better Maryland by harnessing the strength of its local business and community leaders. Hughes is one of 52 individuals chosen for Leadership Maryland’s 25th class – the Class of 2017 – who will complete the eight-month hands-on learning program focused on the state’s most vital social, economic and environmental issues.

Following a two-day opening retreat in April, the class will attend five two-day intense sessions traversing the state focusing on Maryland’s economic development, education, health and human services, criminal justice, the environment and multi-culturalism/diversity. These sessions will be followed by a one-day closing retreat in November and a graduation celebration in December. More than 100 experts representing business, government, education, and the non-profit community will serve as panelists and guest speakers.

“The selection process for the Class of 2017 was very competitive this year, as we had an extraordinary pool of diverse and experienced applicants to choose from,” said Renée M. Winsky, president and Chief Executive Officer, Leadership Maryland. “The 52 selected participants represent a diverse and broad spectrum of highly-qualified executives from across the state, and we are confident that their Leadership Maryland experience will help them to play an even greater role in our unified effort to shape the future of our state.”

In addition to her role at Chesapeake College, Hughes is the President of the Tidewater Rotary Club; a board member of Cambridge Main Street and the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce; and a committee member with Eastern Shore Network for Change, Talbot Hospice and Talbot Senior Center at Brookletts Place. Hughes also serves on the Maryland Health Care Commission Work Group on Rural Health Care Delivery. She is a graduate of Washington College in Chestertown.

Leadership Maryland is open to senior-level executives with significant achievements in either their careers and/or their communities. Ideal Leadership Maryland members have a desire to learn more about Maryland’s most critical issues and a personal commitment to be a force for positive change in their organizations, their communities, and their state. For more information about Leadership Maryland, please visit www.LeadershipMD.org, call 410-841-2101 or email Info@LeadershipMD.org.

About Leadership Maryland

Leadership Maryland is a professional development program dedicated to building a better Maryland by harnessing the strength of its local business and community leaders. Each year, as many as 52 diverse and accomplished executives from Maryland’s public and private sectors are selected to come together as a class for an eight-month hands-on learning program focused on the state’s most vital social, economic and environmental issues. The first Leadership Maryland class graduated in 1993, and the organization’s alumni network now consists of more than 1,100 leaders from all industries and regions of the state. To learn more, please call Leadership Maryland at 410-841-2101 or visit www.LeadershipMD.org.

Working Artists Forum Annual Show Opens at Chesapeake College

On Monday, April 3rd, the Working Artists Forum (WAF) will open their Annual Spring Show at Chesapeake College in the Todd Performing Arts Center. Member artists of WAF will display original paintings in oil, watercolor, acrylic and pastel, along with works in pen and ink, mixed media and printmaking. The Spring Show at Chesapeake College is a yearly judged event, showcasing talented member artists united in an exhibition that displays an exhilarating diversity of style and technique.

“Better Days Ahead”- oil by Amy Cummins

The Working Artists Forum is a non-profit organization of 90 professional artists who meet monthly at the Academy Art Museum in Easton for discussions, demonstrations and critiques by acclaimed artists. Membership is established by a jury composed of fellow artists. WAF members actively exhibit their work separately and together, and have pieces in private and corporate collections throughout the United States and internationally.

David Diaz, a formally trained, award winning plein air painter and teacher, currently based in Annapolis, Maryland, will be the judge for this show. Mr. Diaz’s works are included in collections within the United States, Europe and Asia.

The Working Artists Forum Spring Show at Chesapeake College is free and open to the public, Monday through Friday and during specially scheduled weekend performances. This show will hang in the lobby gallery of the Todd Performing Arts Center throughout the month of April. For more information about the Working Artists Forum, please see their website: www.workingartistsforum.com.

The 22nd Spring Career & Job Expo April 11

Save the Date for the 22nd Spring Career & Job Expo on April 11, 2017, 2 – 5 p.m., at Chesapeake College, HPAC.

It has been 22 years since we began coordinating the largest job match opportunity for job seekers and employers in the Upper Shore region!  We are again celebrating the best prospect for facilitating this event for meeting one another with our upcoming, five-county 22nd Annual Spring Career & Job Expo!  This free event represents the best place to meet the most employers in one single afternoon in our five-county area – employers who are interested in what you can do!  Competition will be fierce again this year as more and more job seekers flood the employment market.  You will need to articulate your skills, knowledge, talents, experience and abilities with your best effort for this local area network of employers who are all in recruitment and hiring mode!

This is your homework assignment:  prepare yourself to meet with employers by practicing with one of our local American Job Center staff to update your resume, practice your introduction and research the businesses in our area.  Dress for success and bring several copies of your resume with you.  Keep an eye out for the list of employers who are coming so you can look them up and understand their product and the jobs for which they recruit – everyone has a website!  Have you applied on-line recently for any jobs?  The local American Job Center can help you!  Do you have a short script ready to talk about your skills and experience?  Practice!  What about job applications?  How about that handshake?  Eye contact?  You’re going to shine!

Practice makes perfect – come to the American Job Center and let us assist you.  Follow us on facebook to get the most current job listings in our area.

Looking for work is a hard job…let us help! www.uswib.org

Sponsored by Chesapeake College, the Upper Shore WIOA & American Job Center Network, including Adult Ed, DORS, DWDAL & DSS Organizations