Chesapeake College’s Future in Cambridge: A Chat with Brandon Hesson

It is most likely not the fault that your average Mid-Shore resident tends to associate Chesapeake College only with its main campus at Wye Mills. This intentionally-made central location in Queen Anne’s County, built in the late 1960s, was conceived…

Chesapeake College's Future in Cambridge: A Chat with Brandon Hesson

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It is most likely not the fault that your average Mid-Shore resident tends to associate Chesapeake College only with its main campus at Wye Mills. This intentionally-made central location in Queen Anne’s County, built in the late 1960s, was conceived in the belief that those seeking higher education could easily drive from all five counties it planned to serve.

Much has changed since those days, including the significant increase in traffic, the high cost of car ownership, and growing family obligations. Less than a decade after the Wye Mills campus opened, the college opened up an extension in Cambridge in 1978.

The Dorchester campus has shown itself worthy of that investment. Before COVID began, the Cambridge Center was attracting over 500 students taking some 2,000 courses. And while the pandemic has sharply reduced those numbers, Chesapeake has already seen enrollment start to return to those 2019 numbers.

The health crisis also hit the Cambridge Center in an unexpected way with its primary water pipe eruption in May of 2020. Beyond the significant damage to its facilities on Race Street, this tragedy did come with a silver lining. It gave the staff a rare moment to create a new vision for the building and its role in the community.

Heading up that effort was the relatively new Cambridge Center director, Brandon Hesson. A native of Talbot County, Hesson was not a new kid of the block when it came to Dorchester County. For most of his career, first as Main Street Cambridge and then worked directly for the City as associate director for economic development.

As Brandon explains in his Spy interview, he feels he’s still in the business of economic development. While he does manage the college programs in Cambridge, he sees his role as addressing the definite need for workforce employment.

And with the chance to resign the Cambridge Center, bringing in new partners to help students, and plans to expand programming into the soon to be open Packing House a few blocks away from downtown, Chesapeake College is entering into a very exciting time.

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