Sandra W. Tomlinson, Ph.D.

(1942 - 2000)

Image of Dr. Sandra W. Tomlinson from Maryland Women's Hall of Fame program.

Dr. Sandra Tomlinson’s passion in life was for individuals to have choices, both personal and educational choices. To that end, she dedicated her professional life to the mission of the community colleges where she believed diversity, access and opportunity provided the foundation for women’s advancement, as well as a democratic society. She understood that access to higher education represented the only chance for many students, particularly women.

Her commitment to education lay in removing barriers and opening pathways to lifelong learning for all individuals. In 1991, Dr. Tomlinson was appointed Dean of Instruction and Chief Academic Officer at Cecil Community college. In the fall of 1998, she also served as acting President. She held three degrees, including a Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas. In addition, she served on the Middle States College and University Accreditation Teams.

Dr. Tomlinson was a prolific author, writing for numerous national journals and magazines. Her works included humanities grants, and articles on teaching, writing across the curriculum and faculty development. She lectured extensively, traveling nationally to make presentations on teaching excellence, curriculum and instruction. Her community and civic board memberships included the SPCA and the Northern Chesapeake Hospice Outreach Committees, and the Cecil County Health Department Family Violence Coordinating Council.

In 1991, Dr. Tomlinson became involved with the Kanagawa (Japan) Sister State Program designed to promote understanding of societal issues affecting women in the U.S. and abroad. She was selected to travel to Japan as the State of Maryland’s representative to the first Japan-American Grassroots Summit Conference in Tokyo. She was an active member of the Sister States Program and during 1991 hosted the Kanagawa’s Women’s Council for its visit to Maryland. In a reciprocal gesture, Dr. Tomlinson had the opportunity in 1993 to lead a state delegation of 11 women from across Maryland to Japan to visit the women from Kanagawa. Funding was provided by the Japan Foundation Center for Global partnership whose goal is to promote U.S. and Japanese dialogue and exchange. In 1995, she attended the International Conference on Women in Beijing, China. Again as part of the Sisters State Program, Dr. Tomlinson planned and hosted the women from the Women’s Federation Group of An Hui, China in 1996.

At a local level, in 1996 the Harford County Commission for Women invited Dr. Tomlinson to attend one of their meetings and discuss the possibility of forming a similar commission in Cecil County. Dr. Tomlinson spearheaded the grass-roots effort to create this commission by Chairing the Task Force for the Study and Formation of the Cecil County Commission for women. Her efforts succeeded in the adoption of legislation in 1998 for the first Commission for Women in Cecil County, which she chaired until the time of her death. She was appointed to the Maryland Commission for Women by Governor Parris N. Glendenning in 1998 and also served until her death.

Her own thoughts best summarize how she views education and the role of the community college in shaping meaningful and fruitful careers:

“For years I have believed Henry Adams’ statement that education should not be ‘training minds to react, not at haphazard, but by choice, ‘to forces that control their world…The mission of the community college is to build life-time learners who will enrich our society. If we fail, our society fails…It is imperative that we provide education and services excellent enough to allow students to make productive and happy choices in their careers, their roles as citizens and their relationships with other human beings.” 

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2001.  

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2001