The last time the Spy had a check-in with Chesapeake College president Cliff Coppersmith in the spring of 2021, there were far too many unknowns for the CEO of one of the best community colleges in the state as he faced year two of the great COVID pandemic.
In almost every part of Cliff’s portfolio, there were more questions than answers about the college’s future as the school saw a dramatic decline in students, unprecedented budget challenges, confusion on how much state funding his institution was to receive, or whether or not Chesapeake could access COVID recovery funding from the federal government.
Like every other school in the country, COVID has created enough havoc for Chesapeake College’s students, faculty, and staff over the last two years that even its president couldn’t responsibility guess what its future held at the time.
Fast-forward to 2022, and Dr. Coppersmith has almost become a new man. Since our last conversation, the state has come through for its community colleges with an unprecedented 15.1% increase in operational support. And, yes, fed money for COVID recovery did arrive with the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), and just as importantly, the five counties of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot all agreed to a 3% increase in annual support.
Cliff also notes that during those uncertain months, his board of trustees and staff double-downed on private fundraising and government grant-seeking to create new revenue sources to help with the college’s bottom line with outstanding early results.
But the thing that puts a smile on President Coppersmith is that students are coming back to the classroom. In fact, the school should be able to report soon that enrollment will almost reach its pre-pandemic level.
Last week, the Spy sat down with Cliff Coppersmith at his office in Wye Mills to hear more.
This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake College please go here.