Written by Jennifer Siciliano
February 7, 2019
Richard Siciliano has been with College of Southern Maryland (CSM) since 1968 – since it was Charles County Community College, with one campus in La Plata and several teaching locations throughout Southern Maryland. He has been an integral part of the college’s growth from a small, single-county campus to a technologically advanced Southern Maryland institution. He has served in positions ranging from academia to admissions and personnel, community relations and publications, and he has supported dozens of panels, boards, and committees along the way. At a (very) rough estimate of four classes a day, four days a week, 52 weeks a year, for 50 years, with an average of 18 students per class (2016 enrollment), Richard has taught approximately 750,000 students over the course of his career. Some went along willingly. Some argued with him quite a bit. All of them learned something.
Although his teaching focus began in composition, study skills, and literature, throughout his tenure at CSM, Richard expanded his course repertoire to include business and technical writing, drama, the novel and short novel, numerous film study courses, and a web-based class on the literature and films of the American Civil War. While at the college, he served as Acting Chair of the English and Speech Department, Registrar/Director of Admissions, Director of Student Personnel Services and Records, and served as a member of the Faculty Senate Executive Board and as vice-chair and then chair of the Faculty Senate. He was the 1996 recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award.
Richard was an early adopter of interactive video distance learning education at CSM, offering a series of classes and workshops to teach his colleagues how to employ this new technology. An innovator and engaging instructor, he populated his sample interactive video distance learning classrooms with life-size cardboard movie standups of mobsters and astronauts from the local movie theater. He was the director of the Maryland Interactive Distance Learning Network (MIDLN ) Training Grant Project, coordinating and implementing training throughout Maryland for faculty in colleges, universities, and K-12 in how to teach effectively at a distance using the Bell Atlantic/Verizon MIDLN system.
As Coordinator of Instructional Technology, Richard directed the college’s initiative to develop a series of fully online academic degree and certificate programs by the year 2000, a program dubbed POW2K. As of 2016, more than 20,000 CSM students were enrolled in web-based distance-learning classes. Richard was named the 2000 Distance Educator of the Year by the College of the Air Distance Education Consortium.
A Fulbright-Hayes Scholar, Richard traveled to the People’s Republic of China in 1993, where he spent five weeks touring with a team of community college faculty members in observing the Chinese higher education system, particularly its system of pre-university technological colleges that were similar to the U.S. community college model. He traveled for four weeks to South Africa in 1997 as part of a team of trainers for the Information Technology Workforce Development Partnership, a USAID grant project collaboration with Prince George’s and Garrett Community Colleges, Africare, VISTA University (South Africa), and PBS. In addition, he led a travel studies class that toured London, shepherding a dozen faculty and students to theatrical performances at historic venues, including theaters in London’s East End, the Globe and the Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Throughout his career, he has been a staunch advocate for community college education. He serves as a board member, webmaster, and assistant coordinator of the Maryland Association of Faculties for the Advancement of Community College Teaching (AFACCT). He is also an elected member of the Faculty Advisory Council of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, where he represents 10 non-metropolitan Maryland community colleges, is that council’s current webmaster, and is a past-chair of the FAC. In his capacity as the chair, he lobbied against exorbitant textbook costs, and testified before the General Assembly for the 2009 Textbook Competition and Affordability Act of Maryland.
He has been married to his wife Lee for 102 years (she claims), and has two children, Mark and Jennifer, and four grandchildren. He splits his time between Waldorf and Heathsville, Virginia, where he works with the Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association, raising oysters to help clean the Chesapeake Bay. He is vice president of the Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table. He loves traveling, reading, movies, racing and restoring classic Porsches with his son, Mark, and chasing his grandchildren.