Dr. Norman P. Shea
October 3, 1937 – September 23, 2014
Former Hagerstown Junior College President, Dr. Norman P. Shea, passed away on Tuesday, Sept. 23, after a long illness. He was 76 years old.
Shea served as HCC’s second president from 1986 to 2002, taking over leadership of the college after the retirement of HCC’s first president, Dr. Atlee C. Kepler.
Shea was born on October 3, 1937, in Kittanning, Pennsylvania, and was the first of his family to attend college. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Springfield College in 1960, a master’s degree from State University College at Buffalo in 1965, and a doctoral degree from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1972. Prior to his presidency at HCC, then HJC, Shea spent more than 20 years working at community colleges in New York and Pennsylvania, where he served in a wide variety of roles including assistant professor, director of admissions, dean of students, vice president and academic dean, and president.
During Shea’s time at HCC, the college budget tripled and the Endowment Fund, which provides money for student scholarships, grew from $300,000 to $4.5 million. Credit enrollment grew from 2,500 to 2,700 and continuing education enrollment grew from 3,956 to 16,000.
The expansion of campus and the need to prepare the college for the growth in technology were key initiatives during Shea’s tenure. Campus enhancements during his time as president included the construction of the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center (ARCC), the Advanced Technology Center (ATC), the Technical Innovation Center (TIC), the Children’s Learning Center, the Learning Resource Center (LRC), the Alumni Association Amphitheater, and the College Center (now the Student Center), as well as the creation of the Valley Mall Center extension site, which is used for continuing education classes, and a new addition to the former Science Building (now the Learning Support Center). The number of computers on campus grew from five to 900 as buildings were constructed to house technology programs and fiber optic cable was installed throughout the campus.
Shea was named The Herald-Mail’s 2001 Person of the Year. In The Herald-Mail article, Shea said that he considered HCC’s capital building program the greatest accomplishment during his time as president there because the expansion “allowed this college to do things we could only have dreamed of years before.”
In a 2012 interview with historian Diane Weaver, author of The Community’s College: The Remarkable Journey of Hagerstown Community College, 1946-2012, Shea was asked how he would describe his leadership philosophy. Shea replied:
"Sometimes, as a leader, you have to do what you think needs to be done although it may be unpopular and not supported. Leadership is doing what you think is the right thing to do even though others may not. I do not worry about what everyone thinks, because then we would accomplish nothing. I take risks because I think it’s the right thing to do, and I charge ahead. History and time will judge whether I am right or wrong."
Shea was named President Emeritus of Hagerstown Community College in 2002. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Carol Decker Shea; two sons, Timothy Charles Shea of Hagerstown, and Patrick Ellison Shea and wife, Natalie Wilder, of Astoria, N.Y.; one granddaughter, Kielen Elise Shea of Hagerstown; two brothers, Grant Ellison Shea Jr. and wife, Sally, of Bradenton, and Mark Robert Shea and wife, Vicki, of North Tonawanda, N.Y.; sister-in-law, Linda Decker Lutz and husband, William, of Knox, Ind.; daughter-in-law, Krista Grove Anderson and husband, Patrick, and grandson, Eric Patrick Anderson, of Hagerstown; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
A memorial was held for Dr. Shea on Saturday, Oct. 4, in the Kepler Theater on HCC's campus.