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College of Southern Maryland Celebrates
Million Dollar Successes and Much More

By Johna Strader with contributions from CSM

College of Southern Maryland (La Plata, MD) is celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2008. Along with this milestone are several other successes the college has achieved this year, including significant “lead” gifts in their major gifts “Campaign for the Next 50 Years” and the award of a $1 million high growth job training grant.

CSM, the fifth largest community college in Maryland, initiated their first ever major gifts campaign in early 2007, with a goal of raising $5 million to fund an Institute for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (ISTEM); a Regional Center for Trades and Transportation Technologies; initiatives to address local nursing and healthcare workforce shortages; a focus on educational excellence; and to endow a student scholarship fund for access and success. The college has thus far raised over $3.7 million in cash and pledges, in addition to receiving over $3 million in grants that relate to the campaign initiatives!

The first lead gift in the campaign was received from campaign chairman Mike Besche, president of his family’s oil company. The $100,000 donation reinforces his commitment and dedication to higher education and workforce training in southern Maryland. “I saw my investment in CSM as a way to jumpstart the campaign, but more importantly to challenge the other foundation board members and trustees to make this happen. We are at 100 percent board participation, and if you add up the total board family giving, it’s more than $600,000. That speaks volumes about how people support and partner with this college,” he said. Having been involved with CSM for nearly half of its 50-year history, Besche’s gift is designated for support of the Regional Center for Trades and Transportation Technologies. “I see the results of what the College of Southern Maryland has to offer. I see it in my employees, in my neighbors, and in how the college impacts the entire community of Southern Maryland.”

Besche hoped his gift would inspire others to follow suit, and that desire was soon fulfilled, as the college then received $1 million, its largest ever private cash donation, from Dr. Francis P. Chiaramonte, founder of Southern Maryland Hospital Center (SMHC) and a recognized community leader and champion of quality healthcare for residents in the state. “Healthcare and education are the pillars of our community's well-being and I have, therefore, dedicated my life to those values. I am pleased to help the College of Southern Maryland fulfill its vital mission of educating our future workforce," said Dr. Chiaramonte.

In recognition of Dr. Chiaramonte’s gift, the newly renovated Science and Technology Building at the La Plata Campus will be named “Francis P. Chiaramonte, M.D. Center for Science and Technology” during a dedication ceremony in October. Dr. Bradley Gottfried, CSM President, remarked, “As an employer of graduates of our nursing and allied health programs, Dr. Chiaramonte has a keen understanding of the important role that colleges play in helping to provide the community with outstanding healthcare. SMHC and CSM have worked effectively together for many years, and we are honored that Dr. Chiaramonte has made this generous investment at CSM and in our students.”

The campaign’s success is also related to the spirit of giving common among the employees, associates, and alumni of CSM, who collectively have raised over $697,000, far surpassing previous years’ donations. Beverly Russell, a CSM ’97 alum and an enrollment advisor who contributes to scholarships at the college, said, “Having come through college at a time when I needed a lot of support—both financially and in pointing me in the right direction and how to navigate higher education—and now being able to turn that around to give back to our students is such a blessing to me.” Her sentiments were echoed by Debra Wyvill, a professor of social sciences at the Prince Frederick Campus. “As a CSM professor, I know the quality education our students receive and that the need to continue improving the facilities, programs and scholarships require additional funding in order to keep tuition down for students and provide a learning environment of pride. Now I am in a position where I can give back and show students their dreams can become realities. I am very proud of the work we do at CSM to inspire and prepare community leaders as they go on to make a difference in the world. I really see the funds invested as proving multiple returns for our own future.”

In August 2008, the college was awarded a $1 million High Growth Job Training Initiative grant through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). CSM is one of only 11 projects selected from 171 applicants nationwide. The funding will support CSM’s development of a Center for Energy and Trades Training (CETT), a project that will provide potential workers with skills-based job training to enter careers in the energy industry.

“This project represents a revolution in energy workforce development, as the partners are companies which rarely collaborate on training and education practices. However, through this project, the companies will be equal partners as they share curriculum, technical expertise and financial resources, and entrust CSM with the responsibility of developing a common entry-level curriculum,” said President Gottfried. He added that the college, school systems and other partners will implement strategies to enhance the visibility and appeal of energy careers and to recruit new workers.

With the gifts and grants thus far received, CSM has already surpassed their goal. The campaign is far from being over, and it is clear that the College of Southern Maryland will have many more successes in the months to come. The Clements Group offers our heartiest congratulations to the entire CSM family!

For additional information on CSM’s received gifts and grants, please visit