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Chesapeake College Professors Retire

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Assistant Professor Lynn Hildenbrand
and Associate Professor Mike Sturm,
celebrate their careers at Chesapeake
during a retirement ceremony on May 23. 

WYE MILLS – Assistant Professor of English Lynn Hildenbrand and Associate Professor of Mathematics Mike Sturm – both long time fixtures on the Chesapeake College faculty – will retire this summer, each after teaching 35 years.

Both professors have taught multiple generations of students and have shaped their respective departments at Chesapeake College, according to Chesapeake President Stuart M. Bounds.

"Lynn and Mike epitomize the essence of teaching in a community college – a tireless commitment to the academic success of each student. Throughout their tenure at Chesapeake College, they have influenced the careers and lives of literally thousands of Upper Shore residents, and that is indeed an extraordinary legacy," Bounds said.

Sturm came to Chesapeake in 1970 after working on his master's degree at the University of Maryland. A native of New York, he had spent his early professional years as an engineer in the private sector before entering the Maryland graduate program. When he graduated, he decided to look for a job in higher education.

"I'd had interviews on the western Shore, but I decided to go ahead and do one more interview with a little community college in a place called Wye Mills. "As soon as I crossed the Bay Bridge I felt like I was home. I knew I wanted to be on the Eastern Shore, so I was determined to get the job at Chesapeake College."

Sturm's bright prospects dimmed a bit when the Chesapeake administration offered a salary that was lower than the other schools were prepared to pay.

"I told then President Dr. (George) Silver that I needed more money than what he offered. He said he didn't know what kind of a teacher I would be and that the college couldn't pay me any more than that," Sturm said. "Then he made a deal with me. He said that if I proved myself worthy in the first semester, he would increase my salary for the second semester. It wasn't much of a guarantee, but I decided to go ahead and accept his offer."

Not another word of the arrangement was mentioned again until a few days before Christmas, Sturm said.

"I was finishing up a few things at the end of the semester and Dr. Silver stopped me in the hall. He said he'd just come from the Business Office where he had made arrangements to raise my salary. He said that since I'd kept up my end of the bargain by dong a good job in the classroom, he had to seal the deal," Sturm said.

Hildenbrand's long career with Chesapeake College began in a dining hall at Meredith College in North Carolina.

At the time, Hildenbrand was an undergraduate waiting tables in the Meredith cafeteria. One of the administrators she saw regularly was Dr. George Silver, who would later become Chesapeake's first president.

"One day he told me that he was going to start a new college in Maryland and that if I ever wanted a teaching job, I should give him a call," Hildenbrand said. She remembered his offer when she finished her master's degree in English at Wake Forest University four years later.

"I called him up and asked if he was still looking for English teachers. He asked me if I wanted to teach English or American literature classes. It's hard to believe that story now, because we now have about 200 applicants any time we have an English teaching position open," Hildenbrand said.

Community colleges were in the early stages of development when Hildenbrand and Sturm launched their careers, and they said they knew little about the community college mission and function.

"I don't think I fully understood the open door admissions policy when I arrived, but I learned and became a huge proponent of community colleges. I still am a proponent of community colleges and I see proof every day of how people benefit from this education," Hildenbrand said.

Sturm said that he quickly adapted to the community college mission of providing equal educational access to all. Teaching math, he said, is something that gives him joy.

Both professors said in working at Chesapeake, they feel like part of an extended family.

"I feel like I have grown up with Chesapeake College. I'm passing through the different stages of my life at Chesapeake," said Hildenbrand.

Chesapeake College has also grown in the last 35 years, with new buildings and a booming student enrollment. Hildenbrand and Sturm said they have watched as career programs have grown in popularity and as the student population has changed.

"Career programs are more important today than they were in the early days. Most students then planned to transfer on to a four-year college, but Chesapeake now has many students who plan to earn an associate's degree and go right into a job," Hildenbrand said.

Sturm added, "We have more adult, working students now that when we did 30 years. Most of them come into the classroom looking for skills that can help them in their jobs."

Hildenbrand will embark on her retirement after a significant change to her family. When a dear friend passed away this spring, Hildenbrand and her husband became guardians of their friend's teenaged daughter.

"This is a new chapter in my life, but I will be reliving some of the same experiences I've already had with my grown children," Hildenbrand said.

She said that one of her first acts after retirement will be to visit her two daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren in California.

Sturm, the father of four grown children, said he also looks forward to traveling the country to visit with each child and his 16 grandchildren.

"Despite teaching all these years, I'm always amazed by the students who are truly interested in learning. There are a few of those every year and you can find them in all levels of the math classes, not just the high level classes," Sturm said. "Those students make teaching an exciting and rewarding job."

Hildenbrand shares Sturm's love of teaching.

"Even today I think I could be happy in front of a class all day. I love teaching and interacting with the students. I can't imagine a more rewarding career," Hildenbrand said, "However; I will not miss grading papers! I'm more than happy to give up the paper grading."

Both professors said they plan to continue working with Chesapeake students in some way despite retiring. Hildenbrand will teach early in the fall the semester to cover for a colleague who will be on maternity leave. She and Sturm also said they hope to help students by tutoring in Chesapeake's Learning Assistance Center.

Assistant Professor Lynn Hildenbrand and Associate Professor Mike Sturm, celebrate their careers at Chesapeake during a retirement ceremony on May 23.

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