Former West Deptford committeeman Len Daws may no longer serve on the township committee, but that doesn’t mean his days serving the community are close to over. Sworn in on Tuesday, Nov. 13, Daws is now the newly appointed member of the Gloucester County Community College (GCC) Board of Trustees.
Daws says now that his children are grown, there was little demand on his time to coach sports, so he turned his attention to another love of his, education.
“I have always had an appreciation for education, higher education in general,” says Daws.
From 1992 to 1997 Daws taught at GCC as an adjunct professor in the department of mathematics and computer sciences. Recently, he had an offer to teach at his alma mater—Rowan University—but had to turn it down, due to his full-time job as a senior engineering manager at Lockheed Martin in Moorestown. Yet, with his appointment, Daws is once again able to serve in the collegiate capacity and “give back to the community.”
“This brought me an opportunity to get back into something I enjoy,” says Daws.
Daws' path to GCC started after running into an old friend, Freeholder Robert Damminger, down by the shore last summer. In order to serve on the board of trustees, a person must be appointed by either the governor or the freeholders. The following September, Daws was encouraged to apply for the board and later heard back from the freeholders in the second week of October.
However, Daws admits that serving on the GCC Board of Trustees is very different than serving on the West Deptford Township Committee. He likens it instead to his time with the Gloucester County Housing Authority.
Asked to sit on the finance committee of the board, Daws says there is a great deal of partisanship on his committee and that all members are committed to the board for the right reasons. Politics, Daws admits, is something he does not miss in his new role. Yet, Daws has only well wishes for all those currently serving on the West Deptford Township Committee.
Of the many challenges Daws is ready to face while serving on the board, the New Jersey “brain drain” is among the highest priority. Daws explains that limited college opportunities in New Jersey are forcing high school graduates to look outside of the state for higher education. Not only is the state losing out on tuition dollars from those who go out of state, but those same individuals also tend to also settle outside of the state as well.
“The 'brain drain' effect means we’re losing intelligent people to other states,” says Daws.
Through a partnership with Rowan University, Rowan students have the ability to attend classes at GCC—giving students more opportunities by providing more affordability and flexibility. Community college provides a lower cost route to a four-year degree, combating what Daws refer to as America's “silent crisis”: the struggle parents and students endure in order to pay for higher education in the current economy. It's imperative, Daws says, to find more affordable ways to attain higher education.
“I think there is a tremendous opportunity here to really bring South Jersey to a higher level,” says Daws.
Looking forward to working with local businesses, Daws intends to evaluate what skills are most needed in Gloucester County. As a member of the board, Daws believes he is serving in a capacity which simultaneously serves local businesses and provides education to local residents. He also looks forward to promoting GCC, one of the many community colleges across the country that Daws says plays a big part in U.S. education.
“You get some insight for education in your region, but you also get to be the spokesperson,” he says of his new role.
As a lifelong resident of West Deptford and Class of 1980 West Deptford High School alum, Daws is no stranger to local universities. After graduating from Rowan University in 1984 with a B.S. in computer science, Daws went on to complete his M.S. at Drexel University.
In addition to serving on the West Deptford Township Committee for 18 years, Daws also served on the West Deptford Planning Board for 11 years. His community involvement includes working with the Boy Scouts, Little League and the West Deptford Basketball Association.