On 40th anniversary, Bob Cook recalls Wor-Wic’s beginnings

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Robert W. Cook, known as a founder of Wor-Wic Community College, was commencement speaker at the May 13 graduation ceremony.

Cook’s commencement address coincided with the college’s 40th anniversary.

The speaker told the more than 450 graduates graduates how Wor-Wic came to be and about difficulties that were overcome in the early years. He talked about principles of success they can follow in their lives.

Cook said he and others recognized the need for a community college on the Lower Shore, developed and implemented a plan.

There was “stiff resistance on many fronts,” he said, explaining local government leaders, public school officials, taxpayers and some business and industry owners thought costs were too high and public schools, Salisbury University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore provided necessary education.

The underlying problem, Cook said, was a lack of understanding of the value of a community college.

“So the first thing we did was have a labor market-industry needs study to show the need for this institution and the type of education a community college would bring.The second thing we did was take the show on the road,” Cook said, explaining he and Frank Morris, another Wor-Wic founder, made presentations to county and city officials, business leaders, chambers of commerce members and service clubs.

Wor-Wic’s first location was in a storefront in the old Salisbury Mall. The first president, Dr. Maner, was hired as a consultant to help bring a community college to the region.

Classes were held throughout the region.

“After almost 20 years our county governments recognized the need for a campus, and our trustees acquired 173 acres on Route 50, where you have been attending classes in the most modern facilities on a beautiful campus,” he told graduates.

“Recognize the need for whatever it is, identify the opportunity,” he advised.

“Have a vision. Know the importance of a plan and how to develop and implement one.”

Cook stressed the importance of being persistent and radiating conviction.

“Develop your allies and friends. Identify and eliminate obstacles. And above all, be a leader. Prove your leadership by doing these things,” he said.

Wor-Wic President Dr. Ray Hoy presented Cook with a plaque on behalf of the 2015 graduating class.

Dr. Stephen L. Capelli, vice president for academic and student affairs, introduced student speaker Jasmine Murray of Federalsburg. She graduated with an associate degree in elementary education-generic special education.

“I came not knowing anybody. I was shy and I didn’t know what to expect because this was the first college that I was attending. However, during my time here, I have learned how to open up and be more outgoing and I have met the most amazing people that I never thought I would have met,” Murray said.

“It is only this school where we can get the best education, participate in the best educational clubs, have the opportunity to meet other great students around the campus and go around to any building and find the nicest staff that are ready to work with us and get us whatever we need,” she said.

Not only did she learn how to become more independent and responsible, she also learned how to build a strong team with fellow officers in the Alpha Nu Omicron chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society.

“I plan to continue to be a leader and I challenge the class of 2015 to continue to be leaders as well,” Murray said, adding she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Salisbury University.

Among highlights of commencement was the graduation of Alyssa Hazel, 17.

The Hebron resident was a dean’s list student with a 3.45 grade point average and the youngest member of the graduating class. She simultaneously received a general studies degree from Wor-Wic and her high school diploma.

 

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