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The College of Southern Maryland recognized 70 employees who have accumulated 780 years of service to the college at a ceremony Feb. 3 at the La Plata campus.

Among the employees were William Montgomery, with 40 years of service; Hazel Woodland with 35 years of service; Mike Conte and Peggy Jones with 30 years of service; and Joellen Lawman, Jo Ann Ptack and Marian Wills, each with 25 years of service.

Montgomery, who is chairman of the college’s biological and physical sciences division, has a sign in his office that reads, “It is what it is.” As a professor of science courses at CSM for 40 years, Montgomery said he knows his way around topics from anatomy to zoology well enough to understand that the “what it is” can be a moving target.

“We used to believe that heart cells can’t regenerate. But now we are learning that to a limited degree, heart cells can regenerate,” he said.

Keeping up with advances in science has kept the material Montgomery covers in class fresh — so have advances in technology. Hand-held calculators were rare in his early classes, as they were prohibitively expensive. He used chalk, a blackboard and an overhead projector, which he admitted still comes in handy. A graduate of CSM, before transferring to the University of Maryland, College Park, Montgomery has watched CSM grow from a few rooms at the former La Plata High School to three campuses, four centers and unlimited space in the form of online classrooms.

Montgomery, who has taught more than 5,000 students, and oversees 13 full-time instructors and 37 part-time instructors while also being an instructor himself, has no plans to retire.

Conte, assistant director of enterprise systems administration and information technology services said he was tired of his daily three-hour commute 30 years ago and pursued a job at CSM that would cut his drive to 20 minutes each way.

“It was a big improvement in regards to quality of life,” he said. At the time he was hired CSM was much smaller, “almost quaint,” he said, adding that everyone knew one another. Conte enjoys earing from people whom he has mentored.

“They have from time to time gotten back in touch with me to let me know the impact I had on them and that always makes me feel proud that I was part of their success,” he said.

Lawman, technology associate of the information management team, learned of a job opening at the college for a switchboard operator just as she completed her first IBM/Wang computer class at, then, Charles County Community College. As the receptionist, Lawman was stationed at the front desk of the administration building where she greeted visitors and manned the switchboard with extensions for everyone on campus. She remembers the days before online registration, when lines of students wrapped around the AD building and formed a line upstairs to the student union.

“CSM opened the world to me, provided me with confidence to pursue many things professional and fun,” she said.

Prince Frederick campus Student Services Support Manager Amee Patel, who is an adjunct faculty member in the art department, has five years of service at CSM. Starting at the La Plata campus Registrar’s Office, Patel moved to the academic side where she could follow her passion and share her talents. Patel began her academic studies at CSM before transferring to UMCP, where she earned a bachelor’s in art history with a minor in women’s studies. She recently earned a master’s in museum studies at Johns Hopkins University. Patel is aware of the demands of working students whom she advises, as she at one time was working as an advisor full time during the day, teaching Art 1030 at CSM and going to graduate school in the evenings, and waitressing .

Ulana Koropeckyj Chorney, lead academic adviser at the Leonardtown campus, started at CSM 10 years ago as an enrollment advisor at the La Plata campus. As a high school student, Chorney was active in cultural, academic and athletic pursuits but said she lacked focus.

She said she understands what it’s like to be undecided about a career path, so she provides undecided students with information that will help them make informed decisions about their future.

Employees honored are:

Five years Nichole Bond, Sarah Butler, Sara Cano, Tameka Cruz, Natalie Cullen, Morag Dahlstrom, Cindy Ellis, Sonia Fernandez, Adam Fried, Brad Gottfried, Anthony Green, Robin Grivetti, Jamie Guy, Rebecca Hayes, Erich Hintze, Shaunda Holt, Barbara Johnson, Cathy Jordan, Stephanie McCaslin, Jennifer Morgan, Thirza Morgan, Whitney Muenze, Georgia Neil, Susan Norwood, Karen O'Connor, Kathy Parsons, Patel, Fawaz Roumani, Sue Subocz, Mike Whelan, John Yates and Kim Yellman.

10 years Chrissy Deen, Joyce Embrey, Jim Fehr, Marcy Gannon, Don Haskin, Karen Smith Hupp, Debbie Jacques, Theresa Johnson, Chorney, Judy Mills, Matt Morgan, Liz Rourke, Michelle Ruble, Sue Shelor, Susan Strickland, Bruce Washington, Dick Whalen and Cynthia Wright.

15 years Pat Barbino, Vince Dobbs, Barry Hamilton, Annie Jackson, Jayne Mignogno and Pat Nickerson.

20 years Christine Arnold-Lourie, Anne Barbour, Earl Brawner, Conniejean Coyle, Bruce Fried, Bill Morton and Yagu Zhao.

25 years Lawman, Jo Ann Ptack and Marian Wills.

30 years Conte and Peggy Jones.

35 years Hazel Woodland.

40 years William Montgomery.