Sharing Words from the 1st ESCC President


by Dr. Jim Shaeffer

 At your Eastern Shore Community College, we often pause to appreciate our history of supporting student success and the growth of our institution. We understand we need to respect where we’ve been, thus giving us focus and inspiration for where we can go in fulfilling our mission. 

Recent milestones like the 2020 opening of our new Academic Building, our 50th anniversary celebration, the lifting of the “reboot”, as well as our continued surge in enrollment and program offerings give us a great sense of gratitude to past and present contributors to the college’s success. 

Sometimes it takes a gentle nudge to remind us of where we were and how we got here. One such reminder of the past comes from our colleague and friend Bill Fiege, Vice-President at Brightpoint Community College, who is the son of ESCC’s first President John C. Fiege. In July of 1973, he stood at the verge of a great turning point in the history of our college. 

It was on July 20th that the community gathered on the future sight of the original ESCC Academic Building in Melfa, where Dr. Fiege presented an address that has a timeless message and includes so much relevance today. Thanks to Bill, we have access to that message and are able to share portions with you. 

“But I ask you today not only to think about the new campus, but also to consider some of the basic goals of Eastern Shore Community College.” 

“I also ask you to go from here and tell your friends and neighbors about your college. Let them know that the quality of teaching in the two-year transfer program is as good as or better than the instruction offered in most four-year colleges in the U.S. Yes, I can support that statement.” 

“Tell those who will listen that ESCC will help prepare students for jobs through one-year or two-year occupational-technical programs. We believe that it is important for a person to be able to work with both their minds and their hands.” 

“For working men and women of all ages, please let it be known that we are ready to assist in manpower training to help people improve the quality of their performance and obtain better jobs.” 

“Talk to people who have experienced past failures and help them understand that our job is to educate-not turn students away. We offer them opportunities to develop basic skills so that they will be better able to learn.” 

Timeless words and intentions that were, and continue to be, realized on our campus in Melfa over 50 years later. The monumental changes we experience in trends, technology, and life in general, are brought back into perspective when you read Dr. Fiege’s words and realize the 

continuity and pertinence they carry today. Your ESCC was founded on a vision and beliefs that are being realized 50 years later. Dr. Fiege was waving a flag for the “YES!” mission of ESCC before it had a name and became a re-energized focus and mission of your Eastern Shore Community College. What connects the past to our present can be so striking and empowering. The above message solidifies a legacy of commitment from ESCC to the Shore for supporting our learners and making sure we provide everything possible to lead them to success. 

Dr. Jim Shaeffer is the current President of Your Eastern Shore Community College