On Friday, several members of the College community will be journeying to Annapolis to participate in a Summit on Completion sponsored by the Maryland Association of Community Colleges. This daylong event will highlight the efforts of our 16-member colleges to define the completion agenda for our institutions, and will include a signed commitment by each college to increase our completion rates and to engage in substantive actions to increase student success. We believe this to be the first statewide effort following the White House Summit to define a statewide strategy in response to both Governor Martin O’Malley and President Barack Obama to increase the number of Americans who attain a college degree or credential.
While I am delighted to see the collaborative nature of this symposium—learning from and with each other is the only way we will truly be successful in this venture—I am more interested in articulating what this completion agenda will look like for Montgomery College and engaging our college community in candid and courageous conversations about completion. I lay awake at night with so many questions about the nuances of this ambitious agenda. My stream of consciousness kind of looks like this: How can we incentivize completion for our students? How do we get more students through, especially with the numbers who come to us underprepared for college-level work? But, have we as College articulated what is means to be “college-ready”? What should a student be able to do to enter into college-level courses? How can we leverage with MCPS to create a meaningful dialogue around this issue? And then, how do we express the relevancy of the associate degree for our students, our transfer partners, and our local employers? Even if we do that, have we explored the unintentional and unexplored infrastructure barriers that impede completion?
I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I am willing to ask them, willing to engage in campus conversations that strengthens our College community through student success. It doesn’t hurt to have these conversations, and I know for sure that the brilliant intellectuals of Montgomery College can figure out the answers better than anyone I know. I welcome your thoughts about how we define the completion agenda for Montgomery College.