At the August 11, 2009 meeting of Harford Community College’s Board of Trustees, Dr. James LaCalle announced his decision to retire from the College on June 30, 2010 when his current contract expires. Upon his retirement Dr. LaCalle will have been an employee of the College for more than 40 years.
Brad Stover, Chairman of HCC’s Board of Trustees, spoke about the College’s progress during Dr. LaCalle’s tenure: “Jim was close to retiring when he decided to apply for the presidency, and we’re glad he applied and was selected. He was the right person at the right time. From day one of Jim’s tenure as President, he had a vision of how the College could grow and he has kept the institution moving forward ever since. Jim has been a great CEO for the College and has built outstanding relationships with the community, our political leaders, employees, and students. He will definitely be missed. The Board is grateful to Jim for his service to the College.”
While serving as President, LaCalle led the College in the development of a new strategic plan and facilities master plan which will guide the College’s growth well into the next decade.
In addition, LaCalle partnered with Towson University President Dr. Robert Caret to plan the construction of a building on the Harford Community College campus whereby students will be able to earn a four-year degree from Towson University without leaving the County.
Dr. LaCalle is known for his open leadership style and welcomes students and employees alike to voice their views and concerns. He maintains an open door policy and frequently walks about campus, visiting with students and employees. Dr. LaCalle has emphasized diversity at the College through student mentoring and the College’s Rites of Passage program which has resulted in increased enrollment among minorities and other under-represented populations. He worked hard to enhance relationships with Harford County Public Schools to create a seamless transition for students and graduates to attend Harford. He also organized a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) division to position the College to improve STEM education in the County, and he expanded the scope of the Nursing division to include new programs in related health care professions.
Additionally, Dr. LaCalle oversaw the College’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, through which he helped new and existing residents realize the value of the College to the community.
He also worked to strengthen the College’s Foundation which has increased substantially its fundraising efforts. Another notable change during his tenure that drew some attention was instituting a campus-wide ban on tobacco use anywhere on the College’s property.
President LaCalle began his tenure with the College in 1970 as an adjunct instructor of Psychology. He began working full-time in 1971 as the Coordinator of the Pre-Discharge Education Program, a college preparatory program offered at Aberdeen Proving Ground for service personnel leaving the military and transitioning to civilian life. He worked most of his career in the noncredit continuing education division and became the dean of that division in 1977. He served as interim president of the College from January through April of 2005, and was appointed president of the College in May 2005.
In announcing his retirement, Dr. LaCalle noted the difficulty in reaching his decision: “Obviously, I have enjoyed working for the College very much or I wouldn’t have stayed as long as I have. Serving as President for the last four and one-half years has been particularly rewarding. It is such an exciting time for the College with increasing enrollment, new program development, major capital projects, preparation for re-accreditation, and much more, but the time has come for me to begin a new phase of my life.”
Dr. LaCalle stated further that, “I will miss working with the employees, board of trustees, and other volunteers who have worked on behalf of the College and our students. I look forward to my last year as president being as rewarding as the past four and one-half years, but I will miss the College very much.”
At the Board meeting, Chairman Stover announced the Trustees’ plan to conduct a national search to replace Dr. LaCalle. The search process will begin in the fall and culminate in the naming of a successor next spring.