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Person of the year for 2001: HCC President Norman Shea

January 02, 2002

Person of the year for 2001: HCC President Norman Shea



Outgoing Hagerstown Community College President Dr. Norman Shea explains the successes he and his institution have had over the past 16 years by saying "I'm just a lucky guy."

Perhaps so, but as the old saying goes, luck only benefits those who are prepared to take advantage of the good things that happen to them.

It is our community's great fortune that Shea did do so not to benefit himself, but to enlarge and improve a community college that is not only an alternative to four-year colleges, but an intellectual and cultural resource that provides learning opportunities to students of every age. It is the reason Shea was chosen as The Herald-Mail's Person of the Year for 2001 by a panel of newspaper staffers and community leaders.

When Shea came here in 1986, he had a tough act to follow. As HCC president, Dr. Atlee Kepler, a beloved presence in the community, had brought the college from a single building at South Hagerstown High School to a campus of its own on Robinwood Drive.

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Shea's task was to build on that achievement, which he did, but not by trying to impress others with his intellect. Instead, his tools were gentle persuasion, modesty and humor, always sharing the credit whenever possible.

In Andrea Brown-Hurley's front-page story today, Shea explains that he's just "a blue-collar slob from Buffalo, N.Y., who's been blessed with a an outstanding board of trustees."

Elsewhere in the article, he credits Athletic Director Jim Brown with spearheading the $5.5 million ARCC project and longtime trustee Merle Elliott - "one of the smartest guys I've ever met" - for finding a way to fund it.

But even talented people need a strong hand on the wheel as a project moves forward. Shea has been the navigator, expanding the campus to include a new library, classrooms and an incubator where new high-tech businesses can get a start.

He says others should get the credit, but many have told us it was his vision that moved things ahead. For moving this community forward in positive ways during the last 16 years, he has our thanks.

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