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Three Chesapeake Trustees Reappointed

Posted on Tuesday, August 03, 2004


Tuesday, Aug. 3 – Maryland Governor Robert J. Erhlich, Jr., recently reappointed three members of the Chesapeake College Board of Trustees to new, four-year terms.

Dewey E. Blades (Dorchester County), J. Owen Wise (Caroline County), and Thomas Groce, Jr. (Kent County), were all reappointed to Chesapeake College’s 10-member Board of Trustees. Each of Chesapeake’s five support counties, also including Talbot and Queen Anne’s, have two members on the board.

Blades is the college’s longest-serving trustee, having first been appointed in 1979 when Dorchester County became the college’s fifth support county.

"I’ve been associated with the college 35 years counting the time I was there as a student," said Blades, who served as board chair in 1985-86, and is currently the board’s vice chair. "I look forward to continuing my affiliation with the college."

Wise, a retired Second Circuit Administrative Judge, was first appointed to the Chesapeake College Board of Trustees in 1999 to complete an unexpired term. This will be his second full term on the board.

"I’m pleased to be of service to the college and the community," said Wise, who indicated the reappointment of experienced trustees generally serves the community interest. "There’s a certain training period involved in any job like this. It doesn’t always mean you’re entitled to a second term, but I certainly think that experience will help me and the college."

Groce was appointed to the board last year to complete the term of Scott Livie, who resigned from the board after being elected a Kent County commissioner.

"I’m excited about this," said Groce. "Serving out the remaining one year of Scott’s term was just enough to get a feel for it."

Groce’s re-appointment ensures the board will continue to have at least one career educator as a member.

"I have a sense of the community and can serve as a bridge between Chesapeake College and the school system," said Groce, a former principal at Galena Middle School who also served as a classroom teacher, assistant principal and administrator with the Kent County Board of Education during a 30-year career.

Groce said he was particularly pleased by the work over the last year of the Kent County Task Force, a group of Chesapeake College officials, local educators, and business and community leaders who examined how the college can more effectively serve Kent County. Groce and Ann Wilmer Hoon, Kent County’s other representative on the Chesapeake College Board of Trustees, both served on the task force.

"I think the recommendations that came out of that task force were excellent and will move us ahead," said Groce.

Wise said the college’s continued growth – Chesapeake appears headed for its fourth consecutive fall semester of record enrollment – is likely to be one of the key issues the board must address during the next four years.

"I guess in a way we’re doing almost too good a job," Wise said with a laugh. "It (the enrollment boom) is a credit to the college, but it’s also a challenge due to budget constraints and reductions in the state funding formula. The college is finding it must provide more services for more students with less resources."

Wise is a graduate of both Washington and Lee University and the University of Maryland School of Law. He was Caroline County’s state’s attorney from 1970 to 1978 and served 12 years as a Second Circuit Administrative Judge before moving into a rather full retirement schedule.

"I just haven’t refined my retirement yet," said Wise, who indicated the pressures on the judicial system have led him to sit as a retired judge more than he originally anticipated.

"They really need retired judges," said Wise, who indicated not having the administrative burdens of a full-time judge make his current role appealing.

Blades, who earned a degree in Electronics Technology from Chesapeake College the same year he was appointed to the college’s board, said the college has experienced great changes during his time on the Board of Trustees.

"The growth in the offerings has been the most dramatic change," said Blades, who served 43 years with Delmarva Power before retiring as a project engineer in 1992.

"The campus has also experienced a lot of growth," said Blades, noting the construction of both the higher education center and learning resource center since 2002, along with the recently completed renovation of the administration building and the current renovation project involving the college’s student center.

"We’ve been very fortunate to obtain state capital improvement funds and the support of our five counties – they’ve been a real godsend," said Blades, who served 25 years as mayor of Vienna. "We would never have been able to get it done on our own without state and county support."

Blades said the development of a satellite campus in Cambridge has had a major impact on the ability of Dorchester County residents to attend college. The college used several Cambridge sites before renovating a Race Street building in 1994 that now serves as the Chesapeake College Cambridge Center.

"I had to travel to Wye Mills because there was no satellite center in Dorchester County," said Blades of his days attending Chesapeake. "It’s had a tremendous effect on the number of Dorchester County students who have been able to enroll in college. Many of them would not have been able to take advantage of Chesapeake College without a Dorchester County center."


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