Dr. Charles W. Simmons
As evidenced in this issue of the Chronicle, the outstanding administration and staff here at Sojourner-Douglass, is beginning to show its muscle.
We are attracting financial support from unpredictable sources, experiencing growth in program development, and gaining the attention and respect of the wider community.
When Dr. Charlestine Fairley contacted me during the winter, and indicated that a gentleman from Anne Arundel County wanted to make a substantial donation to the College, I was pleased to hear such good news.
As the discussion continued, my demeanor changed rapidlyfrom pleased to down right excited. Dr. Fairley went on to say that Mr. Harrell S. Spruill, an African-American businessman and former educator who owns and operates a large farm in southern A.A. County, was poised to donate $600,000 to the College.
I initially had to collect my thoughts and let this news sink in. The messenger was none other than Dr. Fairley, the Center Director of our Annapolis-Southern Maryland campus. The call wasn't a prank or a joke. Dr. Fairley rarely uses her time frivolously.
After all, this is the same administrator who engineered the move of our Annapolis academic center from an office complex in the state capital to its new home in Edgewater, a small town south of the capital city. The new, 16,000-foot facility opened its doors in July 2005. And in less than six months, Dr. Fairley was calling again with good news.
After visiting Mr. Spruill, touring his farm and accepting two $300,000 checks, I gathered myself, relaxed, and let my mind drift during the trip back to Baltimore. I thought about how this donation would help innumerable students realize their dream of earning a degree.
In a letter to Mr. Spruill, I thanked him for his financial contribution and for the joint projects that the College and he will work on together. I am taking this opportunity to thank Dr. Fairley for her belief in what we are trying to achieve at Sojourner-Douglass and her outstanding efforts over that past several years that will change the face of the College forever.
Sojourner-Douglass recently opened a new education center in Owings Mills, a town approximately 25 minutes from the Baltimore City campus, in the northern metropolitan area. We have students who currently live there and we want to attract others. We believe that this could become a productive academic site in the near future.
In St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, the College is in discussion with officials of a casino corporation, that wants to develop an academic center. The center would provide education and training in the hospitality industry. As this program unfolds, the College may soon be establishing its second educational site in the Caribbean.
There will be updates on both the Owings Mills center and the St. Croix project in future issues of the Chronicle.
The most important element of S-DC is of course our students. And the true measurement of whether we are fulfilling the College's mission and mandate is seen in our classrooms and on commencement day.
This year's graduation exercise marks S-DC's 26th year of awarding diplomas to eager graduates who have sacrificed much to arrive at this celebration of their achievement.
As President of S-DC, I participate in numerous forums, programs and ceremonies during the year. Whenever I participate in an award ceremony where I am the honoree, I always consider the acceptance as representing what the College has achieved.
Two of the more recent awards came from the Greater Baltimore Urban League and the Wilberforce University Greater Baltimore Alumni Association. The entire S-DC family is appreciative when the wider community takes the time to recognize the effort and achievements of our administrators and our institution.