Coppersmith is new Chesapeake president

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan Dr. Cliff Coppersmith has begun work as the new president of Chesapeake College. He is seen here at the school’s Cambridge campus.

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Dr. Cliff Coppersmith has begun work as the new president of Chesapeake College. He is seen here at the school’s Cambridge campus.

CAMBRIDGE – Dr. Cliff Coppersmith has taken charge at Chesapeake College, bringing enthusiasm and a sense of purpose as the new president of the institution.

“I am totally dedicated to the community college mission,” he said on April 11, during a conversation at the Cambridge campus. “I am a community college product myself.”

Dr. Coppersmith’s higher education experience began at a small, two-year college in New York. That first step led to further studies, including in history and anthropology at Oklahoma State University, where he earned his doctorate degree.

He served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, and as an intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency.

In his time as an educator, he worked at schools including Pennsylvania College of Technology and Utah State University. Most recently, he was dean of City College, an embedded community college within Montana State University Billings.

“Dr. Coppersmith’s background and experience were a great match for the qualifications and expectations established at the outset of our national search for a new president,” Chesapeake College Board of Trustees Chair Blenda Armistead said in a prepared statement. “We were looking for someone with a proven track record in developing programs to address workforce needs in the community, and he brings that experience to the Mid-Shore.”

His time at that first school – Jamestown Community College – was so beneficial, it has stuck with him ever since. “I tried to replicate that experience as a faculty member,” he said.

Dr. Coppersmith spoke about the value of a community college’s role not only in academic instruction, but particularly in workforce development. Without the technical skills taught at Chesapeake and other two-year institutions, such as nursing, auto mechanics and welding, “Civilization would not function,” he said. “We need trades.”

The task of workforce development is intimately involved with local needs.

Because many community college students prefer to stay close to home during their studies and careers, it makes sense to coordinate regional employment needs and educational trends.

“I particularly want to partner with our public education,” Dr. Coppersmith said. “I’m part of a movement to blur the lines between public and higher education.”

And higher education doesn’t have to begin and end with teens and 20-somethings. Dr. Coppersmith said Chesapeake College offers educational, career and enrichment opportunities for just about any age or stage of life, with practical, direct benefits to students and the local commercial and cultural environments.

“We really are focused on community needs,” he said.

Chesapeake College provides associate degrees, certificates and other programs. It was the first regional community college in Maryland.
The main campus is at 1000 College Circle, Wye Mills, phone 410-822-5400. The Cambridge site is at 416-418 Race St., phone 410-228-4360.
The college’s website is

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at

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