Remembering Sheila Korhammer

NCC's first female trustee and Foundation board chair became a respected advocate for community colleges at the national level.

Sheila Korhammer with Dr. Mark EricksonSheila Korhammer - an intelligent and articulate advocate for community colleges in general and for Northampton Community College in particular - passed away on October 24 at the age of 78.

Korhammer's involvement with NCC began when the Easton Area School District appointed her to the College's Board of Trustees in 1974. NCC's first woman trustee, she arbitrated for the board with NCC's faculty and represented the College at state and national community college meetings. Her gift for leadership led to her election as president of the Pennsylvania Federation of Community College Trustees and later as the first woman president of the national Association of Community College Trustees. In that capacity, she worked with the U.S. Secretary of Education, conceived and implemented the first White House briefing for community college women in policymaking positions, and testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of training programs at two-year institutions.

Korhammer served not only on NCC's Board of Trustees, but also on the College's Foundation Board, including three years as chair. Lehigh Valley Hospice, the Easton Children's Home, Junior League of the Lehigh Valley, National Association of Junior Leagues, Easton Area Newcomers' Club, and the State Theater benefitted from her involvement, too.

Professionally, Korhammer served as president of Cornerstone Professional Reference Checking, a company she established to help governing boards, chancellors and presidents with the comprehensive reference checks that are part of the search process for presidential, administrative, and faculty positions.

Korhammer and her husband Alan are the parents of three children, William, Richard and Heather, and eight grandchildren. She described her husband as her "biggest supporter," noting that despite his workload as an obstetrician he took care of many details while she traveled all over the country in her work. They took many continuing education courses at NCC together.

A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Korhammer felt she learned a lot from her involvement with Northampton. "There is no way I can adequately thank Northampton Community College," she once said, "My association and interaction with the College was a major learning experience and an enviable opportunity for growth." She viewed Northampton as "a beacon and a model" for other educational institutions.

Sue Kubik, vice president emerita of NCC, worked closely with Korhammer for many years, and thought highly of her. "She was a vibrant presence -- bright, passionate about education, and a true ambassador for Northampton," she says.

NCC honored Sheila at last year's foundation dinner. "We feel very fortunate to have had that opportunity," says Dr. Mark Erickson, NCC's president. "Sheila was a dynamo who made a major impact at NCC and beyond, yet was very modest about her many accomplishments. She will be greatly missed."

A celebration of Korhammer's life will be held at the family home in South Carolina on November 1.