Allegany College of Maryland Celebrates Life Of Third President, Dr. Donald L. Alexander

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Dr. Donald L. Alexander, who served as president of Allegany College of Maryland for nearly three decades, is being remembered by the college and larger community for strong leadership in an important period of the institution’s 53-year history.

"...We honor and remember this special leader and visionary whose impact was felt beyond the community and across the state," said ACM Board of Trustees chair, Kim Leonard.

Allegany College of Maryland celebrated the life and honored the legacy of its third president, Dr. Donald L. Alexander, in a recent memorial event that featured praise from former colleagues and an exhibit of photos, text and other items related to his long career.

The tribute, which was attended by upwards of 200 people whose lives were influenced by Alexander in his 28-year presidency, included life remembrances from five individuals who worked closely with him in his 37 years at the college. He died Sept. 18 after a long illness.

Kim Leonard, chair, Board of Trustees, recalled Alexander as a “special leader and visionary” who “touched so many people in so many different ways” in the college and larger communities.

At his retirement in 2008, he was Maryland’s longest-serving community college president.

Leonard recounted select key milestones of Alexander’s ACM tenure, among them growth in enrollment and instructional offerings, new and renovated buildings and the establishment of Pennsylvania campuses and the downtown Gateway Center.

“Throughout this time Allegany College of Maryland enjoyed an outstanding reputation for providing exceptional academic programs, workforce training and support services to meet the needs of students, employers and the community,” Leonard said.

Steve Bazarnic, professor, head baseball coach and director of physical education and athletics, said Alexander embodied the “personal touch” that was at the heart of a longtime college slogan.

“He cared about people,” said Bazarnic, who gave gratitude for Alexander’s support of college athletics. “He would spend time with people. He made them feel good. That was a reflection of Don’s personality.”

Dr. Jim Snider, retired vice president of Pennsylvania campuses, praised Alexander as a forward thinking leader who expanded the scope of ACM to respond to higher education needs in adjacent Bedford and Somerset counties.

“People in Pennsylvania not only liked Don, but they had a great respect for him. And he for them,” Snider said. “He made a difference in people’s lives.”

Known for his compassion, integrity, humor and common sense, the former vice president said “Don embraced … what it is to be a great leader, friend and president.”

Bernice Friedland, former Board of Trustees chair and current ACM Foundation board member, praised Alexander as “dedicated to education” and concerned with how the college would adapt to trends and remain vital in the future.

“This was how his mind worked,” said Friedland. “It was fine for the community and fine for the college.” Alexander’s many accomplishments, she added, are the basis to remember him by. “Don did so much for all of us.”

Dr. Gene Hall, retired vice president of instructional affairs, remembered his 41-year friendship with Alexander, starting with their time as graduate students in education at West Virginia University.

Hall said “Don created a dynamic culture at Allegany College, one that will never be replicated. I enjoyed coming to work every day because of Don’s leadership.”

Hall noted “core values” for his late colleague that included honesty, integrity, respect for others, team work and drive for quality. “Don had a strong work ethic,” he said. “We worked hard, but we also had fun.”

Dr. Cynthia Bambara, who became ACM president in 2011, three years after his retirement, said she was “honored and humbled to follow in the footsteps of Don Alexander and to continue his legacy.”

She added: “Dr. Alexander’s vision and legacy have and should continue to inspire each person here today to continue our institutional legacy as we impact our community.”

On behalf of the college, Bambara accepted memorial gifts from each of the three college employee groups.

The Faculty Senate and Professional and Administrative Support Staff Association each made a contribution to the ACM Foundation for the Drs. Donald and Alice Alexander Scholarship.

The Associate Support Staff Association presented two copies of “Around Uniontown,” a history of Alexander’s hometown, to be placed in the Donald L. Alexander Library in his memory.

Leonard closed the memorial event by inviting attendees to the exhibit “created to honor and recognize Don and his leadership.”

He added: “Allow this event to remember and honor the past and where we have come as an institution.... As a college community, there is no better way to honor Don than to continue to work to transform the lives of people as they pass through ACM.”

The collection, titled “Giving Thanks for the Life of Dr. Donald L. Alexander,” is on display in the College Center’s Hazen Gallery into 2015.

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