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Chesapeake College president's sabbatical will include University of Oxford opportunity

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

WYE MILLS – Dr. Stuart M. Bounds' sabbatical will mean a break from his duties as Chesapeake College's president, but not from the learning environment. Dr. Bounds will use this summer's sabbatical to participate in the prestigious Oxford Round Table in Higher Education Leadership at St. Antony's College in the University of Oxford. He was one of 40 educators – and just one of three American community college presidents – selected for this year's round table, which Dr. Bounds believes affords him a unique opportunity.

"Working in community colleges is exciting and dynamic, but it is hard in this environment to step back and get a perspective on the college in the context of community colleges nationwide," said Dr. Bounds, who left on July 1 for England on the eighth anniversary of his promotion to president.

"A couple of years ago I discussed a possible sabbatical with the (Chesapeake College) Board of Trustees, and they were very supportive," added Dr. Bounds, who has worked at Chesapeake College for 21 years and in community colleges for 36 years. "I wanted to wait for the right opportunity – and the Oxford Round Table was the right opportunity."

Margaret Myers, the chair of Chesapeake College's Board of Trustees, said the board encouraged Dr. Bounds to explore his desire for a sabbatical leave.

"We think this is a great opportunity for him, and also for the college," said Myers. "Dr. Bounds is well-respected throughout the state and I think it's good for an international audience to hear about the good things happening at a small community college in Maryland."

The goal of the Oxford Round Table in Higher Education Leadership is to bring together an international group of leaders in higher education and discuss emerging issues. Dr. Bounds will be presenting a paper he recently wrote – "Universal Access, American Democracy, and the Community College" – in addition to reading the papers of other participants and actively participating in the discussions at the end of each conference session.

The Round Table is a one-week event. After that, Dr. Bounds and his wife, Gail, will travel to Italy and do some touring in Tuscany. He plans to spend the rest of his break reviewing the sabbatical-related reading he has collected and reflecting on its meaning.

"Needless to say, the opportunity to stay at one of the colleges at Oxford University and contribute to the Round Table is the highlight of the sabbatical," said Dr. Bounds, who spent a considerable portion of his free time this spring researching and writing his paper for the Round Table.

"I have been to Oxford as a tourist but this gives me a chance to really experience Oxford, one of the oldest universities in the world," he said. "I also can't wait to present my paper and see what reaction I get from my colleagues in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

"One of the interesting aspects will be the reaction of my peers to my comments on American Democracy," observed Dr. Bounds. "Given the emphasis that the Bush Administration has given to spreading democracy, particularly in the Middle East, and the international reaction to the war in Iraq, I expect I will hear some other views about American Democracy and our challenges here at home."

Dr. Bounds said he plans to keep a diary, making some notes about the Round Table and the different perspectives of the participants and particularly their reactions to his paper.

"Professionally, the sabbatical gives me the chance to do some research and writing that I have been thinking about for some time. I also want to do some in-depth reading in a couple of areas, administration and service learning among them."

Myers predicted Dr. Bounds "will come back with a lot of unique experiences and great information for us.

"The Board wanted to give him this opportunity. It's a reward for a job well done, but it's also been a lot of hard work for him. He was really fretting about completing that paper this spring," added Mrs. Myers with a laugh.

The paper's topic – universal access to higher education – has been a career-long concern for Dr. Bounds.

"The concept of universal access to higher education had its roots in the Truman Commission Report of 1947, which is generally regarded as the manifesto for the community college movement in the United States," said Dr. Bounds, who did all of his research for his paper at the college's Learning Resource Center. "I wanted to explore the issue of access to higher education and its links to the core precepts of our American democracy."

Dr. Bounds began his sabbatical this past Monday and will return to the college on August 22nd in time to welcome back the faculty for the fall semester. Vice Presidents Barbara Houchen and Richard Midcap will handle the routine duties of the president in July and August, respectively, while he is away.

"I had an opportunity earlier in my career to serve as acting president while Bob Schleiger was on sabbatical and I really enjoyed the experience," said Dr. Bounds. "I knew it would be a good experience for Dr. Houchen and Dr. Midcap. I'm confident that with their combined experience and skills the college will function very smoothly in my absence."

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