by Lisa Tome
When Dell Foxx was tapped to serve as a trustee on the Board of what was then Cecil Community College, he wasn't sure if he should take the job.
"I got a call from (the late) Senator Walter Baker. He asked me to consider coming on as a trustee," said Foxx. "I didn't know a whole lot about it so I started asking questions. I never envisioned staying on this long."
Foxx, who was appointed in 1990, had been the longest current serving member of the board of trustees. After a quarter century of service, Foxx was replaced by Chick Hamm who was appointed in April.
It was a perfect fit, which is probably why he stayed in the post for so long. He already knew the benefits of college close to home.
"I am a graduate of Harford Community College. I think they (Cecil College) board members liked that," said Foxx.
He said that Cecil College is a treasure. "It's really one of the best kept secrets. A very large percentage of children coming out of high school have no idea what they want to do. You can come to a community college and get an idea what it's all about. You get the benefit of a low cost and a good quality education," said Foxx.
He served under three presidents - Dr. Robert Gell, Dr. W. Stephen Pannill, and current interim president Dr. Mary Way Bolt.
Technically, Foxx's term expired months before he finished serving. His term expired last summer. Appointments weren't made until April.
"I kind of thought it was time. We need fresh ideas to come onto the board," said Foxx.
There is no discounting the progress that was made while Foxx was a trustee. When he started, Cecil College had just two buildings. Now, the campus has nearly tripled with the number of buildings. Enrollment has also grown.
"Before the economy tightened up, we were enjoying a 10 percent jump in enrollment a year. We were leading in growth in Maryland," Foxx said.
He said that former president, Dr. Pannill was strong with leadership. He said that Pannill built a staff and a curriculum that is to be envied. "We've got talent here," said Foxx. Foxx also taught at the college - Principles of Bank Operations. He said that one of his goals during his tenure was spreading the word about the college. "We always concentrated on graduating seniors. It hit home with me that there was a need for this and we had to convince people that they needed us," he said.
He said one of the joys he got while serving was presenting scholarships to graduating seniors. A student at each of the county high schools receives a free two-year scholarship each year. "I would make the presentation and afterward I would find the student and their family. Often their reaction would be 'I will be the first person in my family to ever go to college'," he said.
Foxx really likes the sign in front of the new Engineering and Math building. "The sign, I really like that sign. I'm not particularly fond of all that glass. I was always in the doghouse with Dr. Gell about that. But while I was on the board, once the board makes a decision everybody supports it whether you were for it or against it," said Foxx.
Now that he wrapped up at Cecil, Foxx plans to enjoy his down time.
He retired from banking, he was chairman of the board and president of County Bank in 2003. And even though his tenure has ended, Foxx plans to keep up. He and Hamm are longtime friends and he plans to stay in touch with what is going on.
He and his wife, Nancy, who currently takes classes at Harford Community College, live near North East. They have four sons and 10 grandchildren.