Dr. Jim Shaeffer, right, recently appointed president of Eastern Shore Community College, recently spoke to the Eastern Shore Christian Businessmen’s Association. Garnett Kellam, president of the ESCBA, is pictured at left.

Dr. Jim Shaeffer, the recently appointed president of Eastern Shore Community College, spoke to the Eastern Shore Christian Businessmen’s Association Sept. 24 and promised candor and transparency under his administration.

Shaeffer is the founding dean of the College of Continuing Education and Professional Development at Old Dominion University, instituted in 2014, a position he held until assuming his position at ESCC. He holds an undergraduate degree from Iowa State University, a master’s degree from Kansas State University, and a doctorate from Northwestern University.

The first topic Shaeffer addressed was ESCC’s enrollment, currently 622, down 33 students from last year. He noted that regular college enrollment is steady, but dual enrollment is down. The dual enrollment program allows high-school students to take courses at ESCC that provide college credit and also help toward high-school graduation. 

However, Shaeffer pointed out that students are taking more classes and full-time enrollment (FTE) is down about 3 percent compared to a 5 percent decline in students.

Shaeffer said he expects that faculty and students will move into the new facility under construction in December. The new academic building includes five new technology and science labs, a new welding lab, an enlarged and updated library with new technology and study spaces, a spacious Student Activities Center with dedicated vending and warming kitchen, and an expanded adult education area. 

While Shaeffer said the faculty and students are excited about moving into the new facility, he admitted it was very difficult to have recently eliminated 12 administrative positions as part of the college’s three-year reboot.

“On the human side we’ve had some challenges,” said Shaeffer. 

He cited four challenges he saw upon assuming his position after being appointed in May. He feels ESCC is a food desert and has acquired donations to provide healthy snacks, working with the Foodbank of the Eastern Shore. He also has worked with nonprofits in the community to address homelessness, a situation he said is affecting some students. Transportation is also an issue, and Shaeffer said Star Transit is working with the college to provide better routes. Finally, lack of scholarships keeps some students away, and recently $20,000 was raised to help enroll students who could not otherwise attend.

Shaeffer said another exciting development at the college was Old Dominion University signing a Guaranteed Transfer Agreement with regional community colleges, whereby ESCC graduates are guaranteed admission to ODU and given a student pass to participate in ODU activities. It also will provide classes online. He said the agreement will achieve one of ESCC’s goals: to offer four-year degrees on the Eastern Shore without having to leave the area.

“It’s a new day at the college. It’s going to take some work, but we will be better off next year than we are today,” concluded Shaeffer.

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