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Chesapeake student leaders meet with local legislators

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


 

ANNAPOLIS – Chesapeake College, one of the smallest community colleges in the state, brought one of the largest student delegations to Annapolis Tuesday for the annual Community College Student Advocacy Day.

"It’s wonderful to see our students take such an interest in the legislative process," said Dr. Stuart Bounds, Chesapeake College’s president, of the 24-member delegation. "I think our legislators were impressed with the commitment of our students."

Senator E.J. Pipkin (R-36) said he was pleased the students committed most of a day to demonstrate their support of community colleges – a support he shares.

"We’re excited about what’s happening at Chesapeake," said Pipkin. "Community colleges have a very high priority in our thinking."

Students said they enjoyed the Annapolis experience, which included a meeting involving community college student delegations from across the state and then private meetings with Mid-Shore legislators.

"Everyone was genuinely interested in why we were there and in taking the time to talk with us," said Amy Marlett, a Chesapeake College student who resides in Greensboro.

The Chesapeake College delegation strongly supported the budget position of Governor Robert Ehrlich (R) to fully fund the Cade Formula, which provides state aid to community colleges. That full funding will increase the state portion of community college operating funds by 5.2 percent statewide, including a nearly 9 percent increase for Chesapeake College.

"The Cade Formula rewards those institutions that have growing enrollments, and Chesapeake’s enrollment continues to grow," said Dr. Bounds, noting Chesapeake has grown at a rate of between eight and 10 percent each of the previous three fiscal years. "That’s leveling off this year, but our credit enrollment still grew at twice the state average last fall."

Dr. Richard Midcap, the college’s vice president for student success and enrollment services, said the advocacy of Chesapeake’s student delegations in recent years played a positive role in the debate over the Cade funding formula.

"Legislators listen to their constituents, and our student groups have made strong cases for funding Cade each of the past several years," said Dr. Midcap.

"I think it’s a great way to put some faces on the budget issue," said Chesapeake College Student Government Association President Erica Wefelmeyer, who resides in Chestertown.

The students also supported Gov. Ehrlich’s budget proposals for increasing need-based scholarship programs by $15.8 million and for $46.7 million in capital funding for 23 community college projects, including the design phase of the renovation of Chesapeake’s Talbot Science Building.

Bryan Brainer, a Chesapeake College student who resides in Grasonville, said the college’s delegation made an immediate connection with Senator Richard Colburn (R-37), who is a Chesapeake College graduate.

"He’s proof that you can do a lot with an associate degree from Chesapeake," said Brainer.

Nearly 400 community college students from the state’s 16 community colleges attended Tuesday’s event, which started with a program featuring a number of key legislators, including Senator President Mike Miller (D-27). Students also heard from Dr. Clay Whitlow, the executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges (MACC).

"What you’re doing here today – this is the essence of democracy," said Dr. Whitlow. "Your story is a powerful story. I hope you’ll share it today with your legislators."

Dana Bowser, Chesapeake’s director of multicultural affairs, said she was proud of the way Chesapeake’s students handled Tuesday’s event.

"Our students were persuasive, well-prepared, and very respectful," said Bowser.

"They were excellent ambassadors for Chesapeake College," said Counselor Amy Childs, who along with Midcap and Bowser accompanied the students to Annapolis

Photo caption -- Chesapeake College sent a 24-member delegation to Annapolis Tuesday to meet with their Mid-Shore legislators as part of the annual Community College Student Advocacy Day. Part of the delegation is pictured above, in a semicircle from left to right, with Delegate Adelaide C. Eckardt (R-37B): Cherea Whyte, Yndia Davis, Tykeshia Jenkins, Jennifer Wright, Crystal McKinnon, Multicultural Affairs Director Dana Bowser, Counselor Amy Childs, Sue Patchel, Liza Patchel, Ryan Masten, Katy North, and Stephanie Hallowell.

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