President Emeritus Dr. John Sine Remembered For Vision, Passion for Higher Education

In 2008, President Emeritus Dr. John Sine described the easiest part of being the college president. "Coming to work every day was the easiest part, always something new, always something exciting, always something to be solved or resolved or be born or to be kicked or just totally engaging. You hear people say, 'well, if you're going to find a career, get something that you like.' And I would add to that, liking isn't enough. You've got to be totally engaged. You've got to have the ability to do it but you also have to have the will, the energy and everything else. You know, I would like to be a millionaire but I'm not going to do that because I cannot engage myself. So, have the ability to engage yourself fully, top to bottom."
Dr. John Sine
Dr. John Sine, second president of the college, 1982-1998

Sine Instrumental in Expanding College’s Presence Through Southern Maryland Region

Known for his vision and passion for higher education in Southern Maryland during his career at the College of Southern Maryland, President Emeritus Dr. John Sine passed away peacefully at his home on July 6, 2017 at the age of 85. Sine served as the second president of the college, then named the Charles County Community College, from 1982 to 1998.

Sine joined the college in 1961, shortly after it was founded in 1958 and served for 37 years, including his 16 years as the college’s second president when he was instrumental in expanding the college’s presence into Calvert and St. Mary’s counties in order to serve the region’s residents. This expansion ultimately resulted in the community college coming under regional leadership as the College of Southern Maryland, effective in 2000.

“While realizing that I am standing on the shoulders of several past leaders of CSM, I am humbled by what I know of President Emeritus Dr. John Sine and his many accomplishments, especially his genius to create one high-quality community college for our region. We will remember him for his many gifts and talents as we move forward to commemorate the college’s 60th anniversary next year,” CSM’s president, Dr. Maureen Murphy, said.

During his presidency, Sine was recognized both at the national and local levels for his many accomplishments. He received the Michael Bennett Lifetime Achievement Award by Phi Theta Kappa, as well as the Citizen of the Year by the Waldorf Lions Club and the Charles County Citizen of the Year by the Waldorf Kiwanis.

“Without question John Sine, was an assertive and aggressive fighter for the Charles County Community College and what is now the College of Southern Maryland,” said former CSM Trustee Mary M. Krug, who served as a county commissioner in Calvert County during Sine’s presidency. Source: 2012 News Story Link, CSM Newsroom

In May 2012, CSM recognized Sine’s accomplishments with the growth of the college at the La Plata Campus by dedicating a room within the Center for Business and Industry (BI) in his honor. As president, Sine had initiated the capital campaign to build the BI as part of the college’s inner campus building project in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Sine envisioned a state-of-the art building with classrooms, meeting rooms and a large conference room that would become a hub for academics and industry to gather and to learn new skills. In building the BI, Sine wanted to provide facilities for educational and corporate training that were non-existent in Southern Maryland at that time.

In May 1994, then CSM President Dr. John Sine, holding 10th shovel from the right, gathered with elected officials, CSM administrators, faculty and students to mark the groundbreaking of the Center for Business and Industry on the La Plata Campus.

Maryland Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton, a 1966 alum of the college, recalled on Monday, “As a county commissioner, I remember the day he brought lunch to me and my fellow commissioners Murray Levy and Nancy Sefton to discuss the vision he had for the inner campus at La Plata, which included the James C. Mitchell Center for Health Technology, buildings for a student center and a bookstore, and the Center for Business and Industry. He brought us lunch, and he walked away with the entire inner campus.”

“But, the legacy that John Sine will be most remembered for is the entire effort of taking the three counties in Southern Maryland and bringing them together as one, setting the foundation for the regional College of Southern Maryland to become one of best community college systems in the state,” said Maryland Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton.

State Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton, right, recalled when, from left, President John Sine talked with Middleton and his fellow commissioners at the time, Murray Levy and Nancy Sefton, about the Inner Campus. “I remember the day he brought lunch … to discuss the vision he had for the inner campus at La Plata.

“As a trustee at the college I watched the hard work required for the transition of becoming a regional college under John’s leadership. He was instrumental,” said former Trustee Mike Besche, who while on the college’s Board of Trustees, 1985-2000, served as chair, 1994-96, and as vice chair, 1993-94.

“Dr. Sine had the vision to create the College of Southern Maryland from what was Charles County Community College,” said President Emeritus Dr. Brad Gottfried, newly retired as the college’s fourth president. He added, “The move sent a powerful message that the college was committed to serving the entire region. The college is exceptionally strong in large part because of John’s vision, hard work and commitment.”

“He leaves an important legacy that we should never forget,” said President Emeritus Dr. Brad Gottfried.

“As president, Dr. Sine had a vision for what the college could be and had the skill and tenacity needed to turn that vision into the reality that is the College of Southern Maryland. John helped shepherd the college from its infancy in the 1960s to the vibrant, multi-campus institution that it is today,” said Dr. Bill Comey, vice president of CSM’s Student and Instructional Support Services. Comey worked with Sine from 1985 until Dr. Sine’s retirement as president in 1998. “John had an infectious laugh, a sharp wit, and a keen mind. He was always pushing the college forward and looking for new opportunities to serve students and the community. It is hard to look around the college and not see a facility, a program or a service that has its roots in his work. Dr. Sine’s legacy is seen everywhere at CSM.”

Dr. John joined the college in 1961 shortly after it was founded and served 37 years, including 16 as president when he was instrumental in expanding the college’s presence into Calvert and St. Mary’s counties in order to serve the region’s residents.

Arriving at CSM as an instructor of English and philosophy in 1961, Sine became dean soon thereafter. “He was a visionary,” said Professor Richard Siciliano, who was hired by Sine when the college opened its La Plata Campus on Mitchell Road in 1968.

“The growth of the college in those early years is in large part a credit to John and his thinking,” said Professor Richard Siciliano.

“He saw beyond the traditional college students and looked to work with the Navy installations in Dahlgren, Indian Head and Pax River. He worked with the EPA to develop pollution abatement technology,” Siciliano added, “and these have developed over the years into the Pathway opportunities and what is now the Maryland Center for Environmental Training.”

“John Sine has blessed me in many, many ways. He was an instructor at the college when it was in its infancy. He was my Dean,” CSM Foundation Director Emeritus Greg Cockerham, a 1974 alumnus, was quoted during the room-naming ceremony. Source: 2012 News Story, CSM Newsroom

From the perspective as a former college student, Middleton said, “I’ve known Dr. Sine for a very long time. As a student at then Charles County Community College, I had the utmost respect for John Sine as my speech professor. He was top-notch and a gifted orator. I remember he gave me a “D” on the very first speech I gave. He called me aside and told me that my material was good but that I needed to work on the presentation skills. Because of his willingness to work with me, I finished the course with an “A.” He was a great mentor and started an excellence program where he brought several of us together to read great literary works to encourage us to expand our thinking, works like T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral,” and Thomas Merton’s autobiography “The Seven Storey Mountain.” It’s that type of individual attention that grew my confidence and helped students like myself to succeed.”

CSM President Emeritus Dr. John Sine is joined by his family during a room naming ceremony in his honor at CSM on May 10, 2012, including, first row, from left, Brendan Sine, Julia Reese Sine, Joan Sine, Sine, Clara Watkins and Evan Sine; second row, from left, Zachary Landis, James Landis, Andrea Sine Watkins, Tara Sine Landis, George Watkins, JoAnne Hungerford and John Dent Hungerford.

“He leaves a devoted family,” Middleton added. “He and his wife Joan were the best of marital partners and together raised a wonderful family, whose children continue to distinguish themselves and make strong contributions within our community. He leaves behind a proud legacy.”

In a 2008 interview with Dr. John Sine, the question was asked, in your time as a dean and a president, what are you most proud of? Sine replied, “It’s easy to be proud of buildings. What you’re most proud of in the end is that you have helped create an institution of the quality that this one is and understanding how it serves the public. I suppose that’s the most satisfactory–understanding how well it does its job for the population.”

Dr. John Milton Sine

Dr. John Milton Sine of Issue, MD passed away peacefully at his home on July 6, 2017, at the age of 85. Born December 21, 1931, in Washington, DC, he was the son of Louise Sullivan (Sine) Henderson and John Milton Sine, Sr.

He was the beloved husband of Joan Reese Hungerford Sine for 58 years and loving father of six children: John D. Hungerford, and his wife JoAnne; Joan E. Hungerford; Evan E. Sine and his wife Beth; Andrea R. S. Watkins and her husband George; Tara S. Landis and her husband Jamie; M. Heather Sine and her husband John F. Loome, III; 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and his stepfather G. Gilbert Henderson.

John grew up in Washington, D.C. and moved to the Sullivan family farm in Marbury, MD at the age of 14. He was in the Lackey High School graduating class of 1949, where he was active in the yearbook, newspaper, chorus, band (clarinet), and basketball and baseball teams. John served in the United States Air Force from 1951 to 1954, and enrolled in the University of Maryland (UMD) College Park shortly after his honorable discharge. He received a BA in English, with a minor in Philosophy from UMD in 1958, a MA in Dramatic Literature with a minor in Philosophy from New York University (NYU) in 1960, and a PhD in Higher Education Administration from the Catholic University of America in 1972. It was during his time at NYU that he reconnected with his high school sweetheart, Joan Reese Hungerford. They wed on April 16, 1959, and moved back to Charles County, MD in Bryans Road in 1961.

In 1961, John joined the staff of the newly established Charles County Community College, where he taught English, Speech and Philosophy. He taught until 1965, when he was appointed Dean of the College and served in this position for the next 17 years. He oversaw the college’s growth from a small facility on Bumpy Oak Road to its present campus on Mitchell Road, now known as the College of Southern Maryland (CSM). He was appointed President of the College in 1982 where he oversaw its greatest expansion and led the institution for the next 16 years. The building of the Learning Resources Center, the Center for Business and Industry, the Fine Arts Center and the Health Technology Building are hallmarks of his presidency.

Over his 37-year career, John was instrumental in expanding the college’s presence in St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties, creating and designing the concept of a regional community college for the residents of the entire Southern Maryland area. He was a strong advocate and active champion for higher education and was instrumental in setting the strong foundation for the present CSM institution.

John served in many leadership positions and committees outside of the College, including the Charles County Economic Development Commission Board of Directors, Charles County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Board of Governors of the Southern Maryland Higher Education Facility, St. Mary’s Ryken High School Board of Directors, Physician’s Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, Maryland Council of Community College Presidents (Chair), the Governor’s U.S. 301 South Corridor Transportation Task Force (Chair), Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission, and the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission. He was also named Citizen of the Year by both the Waldorf Lions Club and Waldorf Kiwanis.

Following retirement, John continued to enjoy his love of family, fishing, gardening, golf, music, and reading. In 2007, he took on one of his most challenging endeavors by writing and self-publishing his first novel, Cuckold Creek (2008), under the pseudonym Enis St. John. He then wrote Tobacco Styx Bridge (2010) and Trinity Island (2011). The fictional trilogy depicted events set in Charles County.

John was a member of Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Issue, MD.

In a 2008 interview, President Emeritus Dr. John Sine talked about the most important role of a community college. “It’s always what the community needs. Not only what the community needs but what the community will need in the future that is important, and that’s a very tender role that it plays. The community isn’t always ready to follow an institution of higher learning to do something that is new or innovative. In fact, history shows us that rotten eggs were thrown at college presidents for recommending innovative practices and so forth. But it’s that role of developing, helping to develop the quality of life in Southern Maryland, that is very, very important.” Photo from College Archives 1997.

Arrangements for Sine include visitation from 5 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 12, at Arehart-Echols Funeral Home, 211 St. Mary’s Avenue, La Plata, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m., Thursday, July 13 at Sacred Heart Church, 201 St. Mary’s Avenue, La Plata. A Graveside Service will follow at St. Ignatius Church, Chapel Point.

Memorial contributions may be made to the College of Southern Maryland Foundation, CSM Foundation, Post Office Box 910, La Plata, MD 20646 or online at

CSM Newsroom links on President Emeritus Dr. John Sine

Dr. Sine's Cuckold Creek
“Cuckold Creek,” written under the pen name Enis St. John, is a real Southern Maryland mystery set in a fictional town on a familiar body of water,” said author CSM President Emeritus Dr. John Sine. “Some people will want to say, ‘I know where that is!’ but they would be wrong,” he said of his liberties in creating a fictional setting within a recognizable landscape. “People went bike riding trying to find the places in this book. Some are recognizable, but they are just not in the location expected.”

CSM Names Room for President Emeritus Dr. John Sine

For those who followed Sine’s trilogy which began with “Cuckold Creek” continued with “Tobacco Styx Bridge” and concluded with “Trinity Island,” this trilogy follows the fictional character, Charles Abell, the dean of Southern Maryland College, through a series of different experiences. At a literary reception on Sept. 25, 2009 Sine assured those in the audience that included family, friends, CSM supporters, faculty, and past and present elected officials, and who had not yet read the book that the theme was not investigative but rather one that nothing is ever quite as it seems.

The Time to Write

Literary Reception with Dr. John Sine

Southern Maryland Mystery is Basis for ‘Cuckold Creek’