CSM Announces Keynote Speaker for the 21st Winter Commencement January 16

The College of Southern Maryland will recognize 508 candidates for 465 degrees and 255 certificates during its 21st Winter Commencement Jan. 16, 2020, at the La Plata Campus. The graduates range in age from 19 to 62 with nearly 33 percent from Charles County, 32.5 percent from St. Mary’s County, 26 percent from Calvert County and the remainder from out of the area. Of the associate’s degree candidates, more than 18 percent will graduate with honors.

The keynote address will be delivered by Leslie D. Taylor, who is the executive director for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAVAIRWARCENACDIV). Taylor oversees sites at Patuxent River and Webster Field, Maryland; Lakehurst, New Jersey and Orlando, Florida. The aircraft division is responsible for conducting research, development, acquisition, test and evaluation of Naval air-platforms, air platform systems, training systems, aviation support equipment, aircraft launch and recovery systems, air traffic control systems and ship, shore and air special mission equipment. The center conducts air-platform systems integration, mission engineering, warfare analysis, cost analysis and provides air platform life-cycle services in support of the Department of Defense operating forces. Taylor is responsible for ensuring business objectives are met and the overall mission is executed in a safe, effective manner, directing a civilian workforce of more than 10,000 professionals.

In 2008, Taylor was selected to the Senior Executive Service to serve as Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIRSYSCOM) Director for Flight Test Engineering, where she was the Chief Test Engineer for naval aviation leading more than 900 flight test engineers across five sites to deliver critical war fighting capabilities to our sailors and marines.

Prior to serving as a Senior Executive, Taylor served as NAVAIRSYSCOM’s Director for Warfare Analysis and Integration, as well as a Weapons Integration Competency Manager for which she received the Excellence in Federal Career Bronze Award for Supervisors.

Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the West Virginia Institute of Technology in 1984. She earned her master’s degree in engineering management from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1993. She graduated from the Senior Executive Management Development Program in October 1998 and is currently an instructor for John Hopkins University in the Systems Engineering curriculum. She received the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 2001.

CSM Winter Commencement Schedule

CSM’s winter commencement activities will begin with a Nursing Recognition Ceremony at 10 a.m., Jan. 16 in the Physical Education (PE Building) Center on the La Plata Campus, located at 8730 Mitchell Road in La Plata, with a reception immediately following on the upper level of the PE Building.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the PE Building and tickets are required. Ticketholders are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes before the ceremony begins. Doors will close when the procession begins, and guests without tickets or arriving after the doors close may view the ceremony via livestream on Facebook at

In the event of inclement weather, there are no plans to reschedule winter commencement activities. Graduates and guests may stay up-to-date about decisions concerning inclement weather by calling the CSM hotline at 301-369-1999 or 800-650-4023.

The safety of CSM students, guests and employees is of utmost importance. CSM will conduct bag checks at commencement, and all individuals may be subject to a bag check before entry. CSM Public Safety officials encourage guests to leave large secondary bags, diaper bags and backpacks in their vehicles or at home as these will be subject to the bag check process at the door.

Due to commencement activities, the PE building at the La Plata Campus will be closed for fitness and aquatics activities on Jan. 16.

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