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President Dr. Pappalardo remembers her time at Carroll

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Over the summer, Dr. Faye Pappalardo, the president of Carroll Community College, invited The-Quill‘s Courtland Kimble to the President’s Office to share her  personal decision to retire, her thoughts about post-presidency, and her remembrances about her career and life at Carroll.  His summation, below, contains expansive quotes from Carroll’s second president.  In the video, above, members of Carroll’s faculty, staff, and student body take a look at Papplardo’s tenure.

“People say ‘congratulations’, [but] it was a very hard decision for me, a very emotional decision because my life has been the college. The college really is my passion, it’s my life. I love our faculty and I love our students.  That may sound like serendipity, but I don’t mean it to be. I really think we have  wonderful, wonderful students. I think, some of the best in the state. I’m very proud of that fact… I thought there comes a time maybe it would be good for the college to have somebody new.  [By] the time I retire, in June of ‘14, I would be president going into my fifteenth year, so that’s more than enough time for a president,” Pappalardo said.

She continued:

“There was a book written by Dr. Jim Fisher, who used to be the president of Towson State University, and one of the things that he believed was that when you go beyond nine, twelve, thirteen, years as president, (I’m not sure if I agree with him totally, I agree a little) he said ‘You lose your mystique.’ What does he mean by that? You lose your mystique, your charisma? I don’t think you lose your charisma – if that’s who you are, you don’t lose it. The mystique, if you allow yourself to lose [it], the faculty and staff [may change their perception of your position]. You don’t sit in an ivory tower; you have to remember as president, you represent the college… It’s not about you, it’s not about me, Faye Pappalardo, it’s the Office of the Presidency, and people don’t want you to be like that. They expect that you have a [certain] decorum about you.”

Providing an example of her point, Dr. Pappalardo referred to her Friday-casual dress when she met with me.  She said that usually she wouldn’t do that because it is all about “the decorum.”  Relaxing her serious tone, she reflected upon the moment’s irony and smiled while recalling how her staff has chided her on more than one occasion for unannounced visits from students sometimes in the middle of business due to her open door policy.

“I don’t feel that I’m losing [the mystique]. I don’t believe that I’m losing it, but I think that’s enough time. It’s been fourteen years.  It is time that maybe somebody new comes in. And I’ve been here at the college twenty-seven years. I came here in ‘88. So I thought it was time to bite the bullet…. And retire.”

“I’ve been active all my life. I’m not looking to go to another job. I’ll probably be looking for volunteer work. Maybe I’ll do more work for my church, St. Johns, which is right here in Westminster, I don’t know.” Dr. Pappalardo paused.  When she continued,  she recounted recent invitations to participate on other boards following her retirement, yet declared  her continued commitment to her other duties at Carroll that includes a key membership on the Board of Commission for Economic Development and as a chair for the Boy Scouts Advisory Council, although her departure may change her future role in the organizaton.

“One of the things I also enjoy is mentoring. I have a great passion for mentoring.”

She noted that some Morgan State doctorate students interviewed her as a part of their work researching tenured college presidents.

I inquired about her achievements and career as a female administrator since 1972 starting a Bay College in Baltimore, Maryland and the changes that have occurred since that time. Although the demographics remain similar in Baltimore and Westminster, Dr. Pappalardo experienced years of cultural, political, and social change during her time as an administrator in both of these geographically different Maryland cities. In answering, her softened tone did not diminish the communication of her confident and earnest convictions.

“Students are students to me. And students feel that.  That’s was really important to me. The role isn’t important to me…I went from a dean to a director. I went from a director to a dean. I came here, I was a director. It didn’t bother me. As I believe in what I’m doing and I have a passion for it. Your job, if you are an administrator, you take the Latin word administrare to heart. It means ‘to serve’, not to be served... So you take that to heart. People sense that you’re not in the role for aggrandizement. It’s a role that you will do everything you can for the institution and the people it serves. Who do we serve? Students, our faculty, and staff.”

“I could only have achieved what I’ve achieved because of the faculty and staff that I have in my administration. I have the best Vice Presidents in the state! As far as I’m concerned I have the best Public Relations Officer in the state! I have the best executive administrative assistant, Mary Ann. I truly believe I have the best people and I believe we have the best students.”

She stated that prior to Carroll, she’s left positions because her belief in providing the “very best” for students in an institution that she believes in. “I have to believe in the people. I have to believe in the students and I’ve always been that way.”

In response to the impacts of historical sex discrimination and the current reported statistic that 26% of college presidents (56% for Maryland community colleges in 2013) being female nationwide, besides one earlier position in her administrative career, Dr. Pappalardo stated:  “I’ve never encountered it. I never encountered being treated differently or my pay being very different. I’ve been very blessed to be accepted for who I am.” She punctuated her statement by complimenting the professionalism of Carroll’s administration and staff and referring to the salary equity for Carroll’s employees.  (You can read more on this here.)

When asked about her proudest moment as an administrator, Dr. Pappalardo, after briefly mentioning a very short litany of personal milestones, she stated: “If I could pinpoint it, it was when we became accredited as an independent institution and moved away when there was a Catonsville Community College… The most important thing for me is the culture of this institution. I believe we have an organizational culture, second to none. We respect the students and the students respect the faculty. It’s just mutual respect…and the basis of my presidency was integrity. If we say we’re going to do something, we better well do it.”

Reflecting on the Carroll’s relationship with the community during her tenure, her eyes seemed to brighten and face beamed remarking that, “Going all the way back, commissioners began to call Carroll Community College, ‘the jewel of the county.’ The community support is tremendous. And we see that in our foundation [that] does so much to raise money for scholarships; they work so hard. And they’re all community members. They don’t get paid. Our board of trustees doesn’t get paid and they love this college. The community has been extremely responsive to the college and I think that’s special.”

Dr. Pappalardo spoke also of the praise given to the college from alumni and family of alumni.

Discussing the future challenges for Carroll, Dr. Pappalardo did not ponder. As a seasoned administrator and currently in the role of president of Carroll Community college she declared that, “One of our missions is to meet the needs of the college. Of course in the last couple of years there have been some financial [concerns due to the economy and government funding changes].”

She affirmed that Carroll is solvent and growing because the board, faculty, and staff continue to insure that care is still taken when choosing new programs to introduce to the college which includes the Mount Airy campus. She exemplified the healthcare programs due to the rising operation costs and declining national enrollment at institutes of higher education because of rising tuition. In light of the last thought, she stated her hopes that the new loan program at Carroll would help students meet that challenge.

At the conclusion of the interview, Dr. Pappalardo was asked if she had any words of inspiration for Carroll students.

She said, “Be serious about your education, because nobody can take away your education. Set your goals, know where you want to go, and be serious about it.”

  1. Craig Clagett says:

    Dr. Pappalardo has established a culture of integrity, dedication to students, and innovation in programming that has made Carroll the institution it is today. It has been my privilege to serve with her the past 14 years. This Quill program was exceptionally well done and conveys the warmth and professionalism of the college–thank you!

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