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AACC's first female president to be inaugurated


Martha A. Smith, who has been on the job for nine months already, is to be inaugurated today as president of Anne Arundel Community College.

Dr. Smith, 46, became the school's first female president when she took over Aug. 1.

She replaced Dr. Thomas E. Florestano, 61, who had headed the college for 15 years.

Inauguration ceremonies for college presidents typically are held toward the end of the president's first year, said Theone Relos, a spokeswoman for the college.

"It's not like County Executive [John G.] Gary, who's elected and a couple of weeks later he is sworn in. It's just not like that in education," Ms. Relos said.

In a statement released yesterday, Dr. Smith listed changes in the college's long-range planning process and establishing "new partnerships with county schools" among her accomplishments in the past nine months.

She also is leading an effort to establish a Center for Teaching and Learning to promote innovation and excellence in classroom teaching.

Dr. Smith also has been trying to steer the college through tough financial times.

Enrollment, which grew continually during Dr. Florestano's tenure, dropped significantly this year, and with it, the college's income from tuition and fees.

As a result, staff members were so uncertain about revenue projections that they didn't finish work on the college budget for the next fiscal year until moments before it was to be submitted to the board of trustees.

Dr. Smith's proposed $36.3 million operating budget calls for the county to give the college $13.6 million, about 9 percent more than the $12.6 million it gave this year.

On the academic front, Dr. Smith has challenged the faculty and staff to teach students to think critically, solve problems, analyze data and communicate effectively.

When she took over at Dundalk Community College in Baltimore County in 1987, Dr. Smith became the first female head of a public college or university in Maryland. She left that post because the school's board of trustees limits the presidents of the county's three community colleges to one-year contract extensions, she said.

Dr. Smith graduated from what then was Slippery Rock State College in Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. She earned a master's degree in educational psychology at the University of Hawaii and a doctorate in higher education administration at the University of Northern Colorado.

From 1977 to 1981, she was vice president for student affairs and dean of students at the College of Saint Teresa in Minnesota.

She joined Dundalk Community College as dean of students in 1982.

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