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June 7, 2012

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

(Continued)

Whom would he recognize next?

"Dress codes are important in maintaining proper discipline," one speaker noted. "Teachers have to set an example, but it starts with the home."

"I had a grandchild texting me at the dinner table," another interjected. "He found it more appropriate than an actual conversation."

The two-hour session didn't end without some personal reflections of my own, namely that inferno which scorched Armenia over the weekend, sending 150 concert attendees to various hospitals around the capital city of Yerevan. I figured it was current events.

It appeared quite obvious from the group intellect that the most widespread form of education is experience. And age didn't appear a factor.

On this, the school's 50th anniversary, those who laid the very foundation for this college are back for more. They cannot severe their ties with this institution, only help it flourish. Dimitry's presence in an unconventional role complements the experience.

"I like to draw people out, get them to express an opinion and share ideas," says the 83-year-old. "My role as a moderator is to stimulate discussion while remaining subdued. Seeing this campus the way it's become is certainly an impressive sight, knowing I may have played a role in it."

Significant is more like it. One of the more provocative decisions Dimitry made during his tenure was moving some of the premiere programs like health, paralegal and criminal justice to Lawrence.

Though it may have been a controversial decision at the time, it did insure that the Lawrence campus would not become a second-rate facility. Over that period, there was a 70 percent increase in enrollment to an all-time high of 10,000 students, with more than 80 certificate and degree programs being offered.

Dimitry formed partnerships between labor and education to provide training and assistance to people out of work. He established programs for linguistic minorities, created magnet programs for the deaf and hard of hearing and formed a partnership with Gallaudet University.

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