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Retiring HCC president roasted

April 08, 2002|BY ANDREA ROWLAND

andreabh@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Community College President Norman P. Shea was toasted and roasted Friday night.

About 400 people enjoyed a good-natured ribbing of the president's personality, physical attributes and career during the third annual "celebrity roast" at HCC's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

Shea will retire June 30 after 16 years at the college's helm. Guy Altieri, administrator at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich., will take over in June as the third president in HCC's history.

Roast guests said Shea's shoes will be big ones to fill.

"He's remarkable," said Jo Ellen Barnhart, who worked as HCC's public information officer during Shea's first 12 years at the college. "He's a leader of empowerment."

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Shea fostered his employees' innovative ideas, Barnhart said.

"He would see the light in your eyes and feel your passion," she said.

Shea supported such projects as construction of the athletic and community center, the Learning Resource Center, the Children's Learning Center, the Innovative Technology Center, the Alumni Amphitheater and the Advanced Technology Center. He oversaw $35 million in new construction.

"Building Foundations for Success" was the theme of Friday night's roast. Life-sized cardboard cutouts of a muscular construction worker with Shea's face greeted guests at the ARCC.

"I haven't been that thin since I was 18," Shea joked.

He exercised his well-known sense of humor during a speech in which he poked fun at local politicians and others. He also thanked his wife, Carol, for all her support over the years.

Shea, who favors quiet receptions over large celebrations, said he reluctantly agreed to be the roastee because the event raised money for the HCC scholarship fund he and his wife founded.

The nearly $50,000 in proceeds expected from the $125-per-person roast will benefit two recipients of the Carol and Norman Shea Scholarship Fund, Public Information Officer Beth Stull said.

Shea said he was honored that so many people turned out to the event.

Former Washington County Commissioner Ron Bowers, a past roastee, joined County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz; James Shaw, president of the Frostburg University Center in Hagerstown and Frederick, Md.; and Marlys Palmer, coach and professor of health and physical education at HCC, in roasting Shea on Friday night.

The roasters were charged with getting laughs at the roastee's expense. Lou Scally of NBC-25 was the master of ceremonies.

Bowers recalled the time Shea ran into a road sign leaving a Baltimore Orioles baseball game. The "Norm Shea's Way" road sign that Bowers presented onstage referred to that embarrassing event and to Shea's oversight of the many projects at HCC during his presidency, Bowers said.

Shaw's shtick focused on Shea as a "wannabe" jock, diplomat and beachcomber, among other aspirations. Shea, who will retire to Florida, finally reached his goal of becoming a beachcomber, Shaw said.

All joking aside, Shea has shaped HCC into an institution that responds to the community's needs, Shaw said.

"I have great admiration for this community college for that - and I attribute it to Norm," he said.

Swartz said it was difficult to roast a person for whom he has so much respect.

"This man has been great for the community," he said. "Norm's an honest, straightforward, shoot-from-the-hip type person. When he says something, you can bank on it."

Veteran HCC psychology professor Vaughn Crowl presented Shea with state and county government proclamations in honor of his service to the school and community. Under Shea's leadership, HCC's technological and continuing education programs grew, the campus expanded and the college's endowment fund swelled from $300,000 in 1986 to $4.6 million in 2002, Crowl said.

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