As the 2010 academic year draws to a close, Baltimore City Community College says goodbye to two pillars of its scholastic community. These men, who forged excellence and demonstrated their ability to change lives are: Walter Dean, 40-year educator, Baltimore area civil rights pioneer and member of the Maryland House of Delegates, who implored people to learn about the world around them, broaden their life’s horizons and reach for the tools of education; and Harry Smith, professor of allied human services, former interim dean of the BCCC Allied Health Program and noted Baltimore area social worker, who placed particular emphasis on the wellbeing of children and strengthening the education they received.
Dean was born in Baltimore Dec. 12, 1934, and attended Baltimore public schools. He went on to Morgan State College and the University of Maryland, where he earned a master’s degree in social work in 1968.
For Dean, few things were more important than literacy. An avid reader, he sought knowledge and spent a considerable amount of time in the library. Consequently, he could converse on a variety of subjects. He taught his students to do the same.
In the early civil rights era, Dean participated in sit-ins to desegregate businesses, such as restaurants, ostensibly open for public accommodation. He was arrested but continued to involve himself in what became increasingly visible incidents which forced the owners of these businesses to change their policies. The resultant goodwill propelled him to the Maryland General Assembly as a Baltimore City delegate, from 1971 to 1982.
At BCCC, Dean taught a variety of subjects including environmental science, math, urban studies and history. He was tireless in his advocacy for students, at one point even serving as a member of the college’s board of trustees.
To Harry Smith, public service and education were two sides of the same coin. Acclaimed locally for his ability not just to teach social work, but apply it to pressing community needs, he founded KIDS LINE, a Baltimore City hotline for children in need of emergency assistance; the Street Club Worker program, a community research/demonstration initiative which sought to gauge the wellbeing of juveniles; and the Mund Project, a community organizing program focusing on housing, economic development and the functioning of social service programs. Smith was a former state president of the National Association of Social Workers and recipient of its 1995 Social Worker of the Year award. Additionally, he was a member of the Baltimore Civil Service Commission for 13 years.
Smith was a leader in both the classroom and the way academic programs are presented and organized. He was recognized for “quality performance and outstanding contributions to the College” with a Faculty Excellence Award, BCCC’s highest individual honor for a faculty member. He received the Maryland Association for Higher Education’s Outstanding Education Award and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award for “Outstanding Contribution through Public Service to the Community,” by the Baltimore Junior Association of Commerce. He also founded the BCCC AARP chapter, one of the first of its kind on a college campus.
As they depart BCCC, both Dean and Smith take to heart their joint contribution: having made community-based education a fulcrum for changing people’s lives. For their students and colleagues, it was “time well spent.”