Recently, we lost a great man. Professor Reggie Smith, faculty member extraordinaire, passed away, leaving behind a legacy that can’t be replicated. Professor Smith’s classes have been assigned to new instructors, each with the talent and knowledge to continue his work. However, we, as a campus, have lost someone who helped keep us grounded, who made sure we remembered our mission, who never let a student, or staff member, want for any degree of assistance.
Professor Smith and I had an impromptu meeting outside the Tillis Hall mailroom a few weeks before his passing, and only days after he submitted his intended retirement. At that time, I expressed to him, “We can cover your classes and instructional load, but we can never replace the person you are to this campus.” It was as simple as that. He was that person who kept reminding us of the community we served, and the need to broaden the horizons of our students, to hold standards that will advance their ambitions, not ours. There were times when I was worried about our future, and he reminded me of the essential value we serve our community, not only in our affordability, but our opportunity to touch lives.
Your Salem Community College is far more than the buildings named after dignitaries who have meant so much to the college and Salem County. Our role is to serve as the learning leader of the County, the educational epicenter of our community. We must demonstrate, by example, the merit of learning, the value of an education, and the life opportunities both offer our citizenry.
While he was not part of the administrative team responsible for many of the outreach activities we undertake, his presence was always a guide for us. This campus belongs to the people of the County and the State of New Jersey and it should be occupied with them as often as possible. As a result, we have been looking to accommodate as many County activities on our campus as possible, ranging from the All-County Band/Chorus to the Reorganization of the Freeholder Board. Our array of events has included the State budget hearings to the County Craft Fair. We recognize that we are here to serve you and over the past year, more than 25,000 (duplicated count) people have taken advantage of community activities on our campus.
As we go forward, we won’t have the conscience of Reggie Smith to guide us, but I assure you, he taught us well and we will remain in service to the people of the Salem County community.