Dr. Mark Shellman honored for 35 years of service to Gaston College and its students
At the Gaston College Employee Appreciation and Recognition event in February, Dr. Mark Shellman was recognized for 35 years of service. Dr. Shellman began at the College in 1984 as an instructor in the Computer Science department, which, after several name changes, is now the Information Technology department. In 1992 he became Chair of the department and has remained in that position. He served as the Faculty Senate President for two years, and he was the Gaston College Instructor of the Year in 2016.
From 1995 to 1998, Dr. Shellman also was the Educational Technology Coordinator for the College. “This was a time when personal computers were becoming very prevalent and technology was being integrated into the classroom at a rapid pace,” said Dr. Shellman. “We were also adding computer labs around the campus. I worked closely with the Director of Technology Services, then Dr. Betsy Jones, to coordinate and integrate technology throughout the College. During this time, we also upgraded our campus infrastructure to deploy internet access throughout the campus. It was a very exciting time.”
It was not Dr. Shellman’s original intention to go into education. After he graduated in spring 1984 from N.C. State University with a degree in Computer Science, he planned to go into business or industry. His parents had a combined 75 years of experience in the Gaston County School System and he was determined that he would not be a teacher. However, when he learned about a job opening as an instructor in the Gaston College Computer Science department, he went for an interview and was offered the position. “I am still here 35 years later,” said Dr. Shellman, “and I still love it. I guess due to my parents I was born to be in education. Thanks, Mom and Dad.”
Since joining Gaston College, Dr. Shellman continued his education and completed a Master of Science in Computer Education from Barry University, an Educational Specialist in Higher Education degree and an Ed.D., both from Appalachian State University. “What I learned from all my degrees is that there is so very much that I do not know,” said he said. “I continue to learn each and every day.”
The Information Technology program has changed substantially since 1984. “Looking back, it was like Star Trek in the 1960s,” Dr. Shellman said. “No one could believe it then, and it is sometimes hard for me to believe it now. I never could have imagined the technology we have today at our fingertips. Children today take all the technology for granted; however, I remember all too well when none of it was here.”
In 2016, the North Carolina Community College System underwent a curriculum improvement project regarding information technology programs. Gaston College implemented the project outcomes in fall 2017, and that resulted in updated and stronger programs, including a new Data Analytics and Database Management program. Coursework for the program includes terminology and design, database administration, analytics, backup and recovery, performance, database programming and tools, and related topics. Students develop the ability to implement, support, manage, and analyze industry standard database systems. “With everything in our society relying on data, this program gives students the opportunity to learn skills that will benefit them well into the future,” said Dr. Shellman.
Helping to bring the internet to Gaston College and helping create the first networked lab environment on campus were fun for Dr. Shellman, but he does not count them as among his main accomplishments. Rather, he considers that his work with students over the years is his biggest contribution. “I feel that I was put in this environment to help students, and that is why I am still here today,” he said. “When I can just interact with students and teach, I am truly happy. Not everyone has the aptitude to major in Information Technology, however, they do have the aptitude and passion for many other things. Just interacting and meeting the needs of students is my biggest accomplishment.”
Dr. Shellman believes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought him even closer to his students. “Each student has unique challenges in attending college to begin with,” he said, “and I feel COVID-19 has only added to those challenges. I feel fall will be much smoother than spring, although the spring semester did end up going extremely well. Being able to plan in advance will make a great deal of difference. Throughout the spring semester, I communicated individually with several students that were having difficulties directly and indirectly related to COVID-19. I told them we would get through it together, and we did. Again, I feel I was put in this position to assist students in achieving their goals.”
For more information about the Information Technology program at Gaston College, visit www.gaston.edu or contact Dr. Mark Shellman at 704-922-6278 or Shellman.Mark@gaston.edu.