The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Vice President of Financial Services Tony Jernigan has announced his decision to retire on June 30 after 12 years of dedicated service to CSM and its students. Frederick ‘Rick’ Johnson, a retired chief financial officer from Harford Community College, will serve as interim vice president of CSM’s Financial Services effective July 1.
“Life is a matter of stages,” Jernigan recently shared. “When you start in your career, you’re all gung-ho and you want to advance up the career ladder. Then you reach a point when your kids graduate from college and move out and suddenly moving up the latter isn’t as important anymore. It becomes more about making friends and prioritizing your efforts to affect the most good.”
“Tony has been a jewel in the leadership crown of CSM since he joined the team in 2009,” said CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy. “He has been masterful in helping the college achieve its business goals, and his fiscal expertise has proven itself repeatedly as shown in our ability to keep community college affordable to our students.”
Murphy also lauded Jernigan, who could have retired last year, for staying on to help CSM navigate the financial unknowns of the pandemic.
“We are grateful to Tony for being the steady hand and advisor during the pandemic and for basically postponing the next stage of his life to provide much needed continuity to our organization and our students,” she said. “We had no idea what the virus would do to our faculty, staff, students, and communities. We didn’t know if we would see significant shifts in our funding, or what extra funding we would need to secure in order to help our students survive. Tony stayed and dug in with us to make hard financial decisions that not only kept CSM financially stable during the pandemic emergency, but also for years to come. For that, we will forever be in his debt.”
“I tell the president this all the time – some jobs you have immediate satisfaction but working in finance is not one of them,” Jernigan shared. “In finance we don’t usually directly interact with students. We punch the numbers, pay the bills and work the contracts. We know we’re making a difference for the rest of the people on the front lines interfacing with our students and we know they couldn’t do their jobs effectively without us. But it’s hard on the finance side to see it. You need to feel good about what you do and I have always felt great about working at this community college. I know we are changing lives and I love it. I really love graduation, watching our students graduate and knowing they’ll make a difference in this world.”
Jernigan came to CSM in 2009 from Greensboro College in North Carolina where he served as the vice president of finance. He was also associated with Nash Community College, Rocky Mount, NC, for more than 20 years, serving as the chief financial and administrative officer at Nash Community College until 2007. Previous to that, he worked in the Office of the North Carolina State Auditor, as a systems accountant and a staff auditor.
He shared that he loves living in Maryland with his wife Terri but he will miss his CSM family and staff.
“I have been here 12 years and have worked with a tremendously talented staff,” Jernigan said. “I will miss them.”
Under Jernigan’s leadership, the CSM Department of Finance has become known in the community for its generous holiday spirit, as they join each Christmas to offer their gift giving to an area charity, instead of to each other.
“We decided years ago that instead of gifting to each other, we would give to area charities instead,” Jernigan explained. “Some of our staff spent significant off-work time making home-made Christmas cards and the money we would have spent on each other goes to those in real need.”
The department has given to the Alzheimer’s group at Sage Point Living Center in La Plata, the Children’s Aid Society and the Charlotte Hall Veteran’s Home. “It’s pretty special,” Jernigan shared. “I’ve really enjoyed it and so does our staff.”
A certified public accountant since 1981, Jernigan received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has completed post-baccalaureate studies at North Carolina State University and East Carolina University. He said he looks forward to returning to the Carolina’s in his retirement where he plans to start a home business and travel, among other things.
“What am I going to do in retirement? That’s kind of frightening,” he laughed. “I don’t know. My typical workday is 10 hours long and without many hobbies, that’s a lot of time to fill. About three years ago, I was talking to my wife about this and she asked what do you want to do that you haven’t done? I said I wanted to learn to play an instrument. She went out and bought me a guitar – so I guess I’ll be taking guitar lessons.”
When asked what advice he’d give to those beginning their careers, Jernigan offered, “I think people need to think more about what they like doing and find a job they truly enjoy. I’ve had higher-paying job offers from the private sector that I didn’t entertain. I can honestly say that for the past 33 years, I’ve truly loved the work I’ve done.”
Johnson served as Harford Community College’s vice president for Finance and Operations from July 2012 to 2017. Before that he was the chief operating officer for EDCO International; vice president and chief financial officer for the University of Arizona Alumni Association and the assistant dean for finance and administration at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.