Former Hagerstown Junior College President, Dr. Atlee C. Kepler, passed away on Wed., April 28. He was 88 years old.
Kepler was born on May 3, 1921 in Frederick County, Maryland. During World War II, Kepler served with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) on assignments in Cairo, Egypt, San Francisco, Ca., and Washington, D.C. After his discharge from the military, he married Annabelle Sunderland and accepted a teaching position with the public school system in Washington County. From 1946 to 1948, he was an English teacher at Hagerstown High School and South Potomac High School and from 1948 to 1953, he worked as a guidance counselor at Hagerstown High School.
Kepler obtained his A.B. from Washington College in 1942, his M.A. from Teachers College Columbia University in 1950, and his doctorate from George Washington University in 1968.
Kepler has long history with HCC and served as an administrative head at Hagerstown Junior College for more than 30 years. He was Dean from 1953 to 1961 and President of Hagerstown Junior College from 1961 to 1986. When he retired in 1986, Kepler was the longest serving community college president in the country.
In 1953, when Kepler was first named Dean of HJC, he set two major goals:
• Move the College to its own campus
• Attain regional accreditation for HJC by the Middle States Association of Colleges and
Secondary Schools and the Maryland State Board of Higher Education
He accomplished both goals by 1968 and since 1953, HCC, formerly HJC, has been reaccredited five times.
During Kepler’s presidency, HJC moved from its first location in the basement of old Hagerstown High School, where late afternoon and evening programs were offered, to a separate facility on the grounds of South Hagerstown High School in 1956. In 1966, the College established its present location on Robinwood Drive.
Kepler retired from his presidential post on June 30, 1986. His retirement prompted citations and awards from members of the U.S. Congress, former Maryland Governor Harry Hughes, the Maryland State Senate, the Maryland House of Delegates, the Washington County Board of Commissioners, the Mayor and City Council of Hagerstown, the Maryland State Board of Education, the Maryland State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, as well as many local businesses and charitable groups.
He was named President Emeritus of Hagerstown Junior College in 1987.
Learn more about Dr. Kepler by reading this Herald Mail article.