Chestertown, MD, June 9—The Maryland Association of Higher Education will present Washington College President John S. Toll with its first ever Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization’s annual symposium today at Towson University.
"Dr. Toll's career as both a distinguished faculty scholar and campus and system administrator, in both the public and private sectors of Maryland higher education, truly exemplifies what the MAHE Lifetime Achievement Award is meant to recognize," says MAHE president Craig Clagett. "Along with his stellar academic accomplishments, Dr. Toll is known for his genuine interest in helping others, whether students, staff, or colleagues. He has set the standard for service to Maryland higher education."
Founded in 1946, MAHE is now in its 54th year serving the interests of all sectors and all professions of higher education in Maryland. Through its conferences, Web site, and publications, MAHE promotes communication and cooperation among all those interested in furthering higher learning in Maryland.
Toll’s accomplishments during his more than 46 years in higher education, 33 in the state of Maryland, led to this first-ever honor. A Yale graduate with a Ph.D. from Princeton in physics, Toll began his career in Maryland education in 1953, when he joined the University of Maryland faculty after helping to establish the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. He served for thirteen years as chair of UM’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, leaving to assume the presidency of SUNY Stony Brook. For his work there, Toll was listed among "100 Who Shaped the Century" by Newsday, the principal newspaper of Long Island, New York.
Toll came back to Maryland from Stony Brook in 1978, invited by the University of Maryland to become president of the five-campus system. At the request of then-Governor William Donald Schaefer, Toll headed the merger of Maryland’s two public multi-campus university systems in 1988. This led to the founding of the University of Maryland System, with Toll named Chancellor. He remains Chancellor Emeritus.
In 1994 Toll returned to the physics department at the University of Maryland, working with graduate students and faculty on research and lecturing at freshman honors seminars. He became Acting President of Washington College on January 1, 1995, and accepted the invitation of the Board to continue as president that year.
The private liberal arts and sciences college has flourished under his leadership, with no aspect of institutional life untouched by his enthusiasm.
His impact was readily apparent to the accrediting agency that visited in 1994 and returned for a follow-up visit in 1999. The Periodic Review Report of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools reported "phenomenal progress" and an "incredible turnaround which . . . far exceeds the expectations of even the most optimistic member of the 1994 Review Team."
Toll’s first initiative at the College was to develop and launch the Washington Scholars Program, a $10,000 per year scholarship program for members of the National Honor Society and Cum Laude Society. As a result of this initiative, honor society members entering the College make up more than 50 percent of the total freshman class, an increase from less than 25 percent in 1995. The number of entering freshmen also has increased 20 percent from 236 in 1994 to 282 in 1999. The Class of 2000 is the first graduating class of Washington Scholars.
During his first five years in office, Toll has overseen the addition of majors in environmental studies, anthropology and computer science, a dual degree program in pharmacy, and a K-8 teacher certification program to complement secondary education training. The College also has established itself as a leader in international education and currently offers 38 study abroad programs around the world. Two varsity sports—co-ed and women’s sailing and women’s soccer—have also been added.
As student enrollment as grown, so has the size of the faculty—a 28 percent increase of full-time faculty from 65 in 1994 to 83 in 1999.
An inveterate fund-raiser for education, President Toll has spearheaded The Campaign for Washington’s College. Initiated in 1997 with a goal of $72 million, the campaign has yielded $60 million in funds raised after one year of the public phase. The Campaign is raising money to support academic programs, including developing centers for the study of creative writing, environmental studies, and the American experience; student scholarships; faculty salaries; improved facilities; and endowment.
"John Toll’s leadership has been critical to the early success of this Campaign," notes Jay Griswold of Baltimore, vice chair of the College’s Board of Visitors and Governors and chairman of the Campaign. "He is greatly admired and respected in academic circles and political arenas alike."