hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


June 7, 2012

Poor Tom's Almanac: From college president to talk host

He served 20 years as president of Northern Essex Community College, created a new campus in a neighboring city, has two buildings named in his honor and remains a consummate educator.

Today, you'll find Dr. John Dimitry on the Haverhill campus of Northern Essex, but in a much different capacity. Gone are the spacious offices and the extreme public exposure. In their place is a long rectangular table inside a corner room of the school library, where he is joined by 20 senior conversationalists.

Over the past seven years, Dimitry has facilitated a popular Life Long Learning program called "Let's Talk Current Events."

It meets every Monday morning and is packed to the gills with knowledge. You may or may not know Dimitry, depending upon your ties with NECC. He served as the school's second president, from 1975 to 1996 following Dr. Harold Bentley, before giving way to Dr. David Hartleb, who retired this year.

In a nutshell, here's the syllabus: "A weekly and lively current events discussion group which chooses a topic for round-table debate, utilizing materials from current magazines, newspapers, books, radio and television. No advance preparation is needed."

On this day, attendance was five over capacity and extra chairs were added. Included in the gathering was Dan Beauregard, a former NECC trustee. Most were retired teachers and business professionals bent on exercising their minds with an active tongue. Copies of Business Life and Fortune magazine were strewn on a table with an atlas.

A guy named Ed opened the discussion with an in-depth account of global warming, followed by talks on the benefits of on-line education, school dress codes, children obsessed with their electronic gadgets, and escalating health care costs.

People were sitting on the edge of their seats like space shuttles ready for launch. Dimitry's role as moderator was being challenged.

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