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India Initiative Reflections

India Initiative Reflections

India Reflections from Dr. Pollard, part two

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The second leg of our India trade mission found us in Mumbai, where the delegation continued to build trade and economic partnerships. Interestingly, the second leg seems to truly focus on those industries that are increasingly essential in this emerging market: biotechnology, life sciences, and technology. India has redefined its economic future by strategically placing itself in the middle of the knowledge economy, harnessing its entrepreneurial spirit and embracing the talents of its growing workforce.

This economic shift became evident through the delegation’s various activities, such as visiting the Convention on Pharmaceutical Ingredients  (CPhI), conducting meetings with several Tata Group  companies, launching the Women in Bio  India Chapter, and interacting with the Binani Group . In the midst of additional announcements of business partnerships and sister-state agreements, I was particularly excited to speak with several business leaders about our new Life Sciences Park and the Montgomery College Life Sciences Park Foundation to better understand the new technology and research that is informing the development of these industries. In fact, I have been extremely successful in engaging potential board members for our new foundation.

Of course, there continues to be great interest in Montgomery College as an example of an educational institution that does not formally exist in India. As an emerging market, developing a skilled workforce across the economic strata figures prominently in discussions with business and political leaders. In fact, they have a profound sense of urgency, recognizing that the growth and success of India is dependent on expanding the number of people capable of performing the jobs of the new economy. Human capacity is not the issue; the skills gap is profoundly the issue.

Montgomery College has a unique opportunity to engage in assisting this country in developing and expanding the skills of its workforce. We are a recognized brand with a strong history of outcomes, and there are both philanthropic and entrepreneurial opportunities for our organization that will benefit our students in significant ways. 

 - Post by Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard, president of Montgomery College

Photos from India

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Dr. Pollard joined Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett as they announced business agreements in Hyderabad, India. Governor O'Malley's photographer snapped a great photo  of the moment, which is available for viewing on the governor's Flickr account or by clicking here.

Additionally, a photo  of Dr. Pollard and Dr. Sanjay Rai, vice president and provost of the Germantown Campus, on the delegation's visit to the Indian School of Business is available for viewing. If you look closely at a photo  of Governor O'Malley interacting with students in the school, you will see Dr. Pollard watching and sitting next to County Executive Isiah Leggett in the far left corner, with Dr. Rai seated behind them.

India Reflections from Dr. Pollard, part one

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The first leg of the India mission found the 100-member delegation in Hyderabad in the state of Andhra Pradesh, a thriving and rapidly evolving urban environment. Although the state of Maryland is approximately 1/7 the size in population, the similarities between our two states are obvious: we are dedicated to innovation and the knowledge economy, and we are committed to economic development for our residents through a highly skilled workforce. In short, while thousands of miles and distinctive cultures separate us, it is clear that a partnership—or sister-state relationship—would provide significant benefits.

U.S. Consul General Katherine Dhanani briefed our delegation about the cultural, economic, political realities of the Indo-U.S. relationship. We also heard from the Confederation of Indian Industry and GMR Group, one of the fastest growing infrastructure enterprises in India. Sister-state agreements are being forged with the state of Andhra Pradesh, and announcements of new business partnerships—including two Montgomery County businesses—were made. Finally, a delegation contingent visited the Indian School of Business, a new graduate school that already boasts placement in the top five business schools in the world. Quite impressive!

Three interrelated observations have been profound for me. Every time someone speaks to me about Montgomery College and the partnerships we are forging in India, I am met with significant admiration and respect for the mission and function of community colleges. The egalitarian notion of community colleges—our commitment to access—resonates in a country with such a rich history as India. Indeed, a discussion with one Indian businessman left me considering that the American community college model may indeed be Maryland’s most valued export to India. And, if that is the case, is our model sustainable in this emerging space/market? Moreover, is our model sustainable in America? The notion of inclusive growth forces me to consider how we actualize our mission in a rapidly changing environment.

For instance, India’s infrastructure went from no phones to a society that uses cellular technology for nearly every function of daily life in just a matter of years. They catapulted over the landline generation and embraced cell phone technology as a leveling force. They embraced a disruptive technology, bypassing an antiquated construct that was not relevant or responsive to the needs of the rapidly evolving county. Their evolution, in this example, outpaced ours and could surpass us in ways we cannot even imagine right now.

If I can extrapolate, what will this mean for the American community college model once it has been embraced, modified, and furthered by India? What process, system, or outcome will they disabuse of us? What do we believe to be essential to how we function that they can demonstrate can be skipped, changed, or deleted? Are we capable of evolving as rapidly as our world will demand?

I remain cognizant of the binary oppositions that exist in this emerging country. Hyderabad, India is a contrast in old and new, historical and emerging—perhaps even a study of how what was and what will be can seemingly coexist with mutual respect and dignity. I find it fascinating that there is seemingly no fear of change and no regret for how the country’s evolution is affecting people’s reality. People seem to be valuing the journey. I find myself pondering this phenomenon and the cultural determinants that created the environment. I look forward to experiencing Mumbai to explore these ideas more thoroughly.

Finally, I have been extremely impressed with our governor, Martin O’Malley, and our county executive, Ike Leggett. Both speak passionately about the state and county, and they offer a compelling vision for our place in the global economy.  A few times I have wanted to shout with pride, “I am Maryland! I am Montgomery County!” at the end of their speeches. Perhaps I need to learn the state and county songs so I can hum quietly when the feeling moves me... happy 

Until next time…

- Post by Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard, president of Montgomery College 

College President Joins Governor's Trade Mission

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Montgomery College has made great strides in building a partnership with higher education institutions in India. A College delegation traveled to New Delhi in March to lead a community college symposium, and the College hosted a delegation of Indian educators this fall.Additionally, the College welcomed a pre-summit tour of Indian leaders prior to the U.S.-India Higher Education Summit at Georgetown University, which Montgomery College President DeRionne P. Pollard attended.

On November 28, Dr. Pollard and Dr. Sanjay Rai, vice president and provost of the College's Germantown Campus, joined Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley on his first trade mission to India. During the mission, Dr. Pollard and Dr. Rai look forward to furthering Montgomery College's partnership with India to benefit the state of Maryland and Montgomery County.

Nearly 100 business and education leaders have accompanied the governor on the trip. Among the elected officials who will be in attendance are Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, and Maryland Delegates Kumar Barve, Sam Arora, and Aruna Miller, who represent Montgomery County. Another higher education leader in attendance is University of Maryland President Wallace Loh.


Delegation Visit Hits YouTube

(India Delegation Visit) Permanent link

The Montgomery College television station accompanied the delegation during the first two days of their weeklong visit. The resulting story aired on Montgomery County Cable, our own MCTV station and, best of all, YouTube! With the story online, our friends in India can share the memories of their visit with colleagues, friends and family.

Favorite Moments at Takoma Park/Silver Spring

(India Delegation Visit) Permanent link

In conversations with the India delegation the night before their departure, I asked each of them to share their favorite moments during the week. Responses varied from the whole visit and the support of Associate Dean Margaret Latimer (who served as the College liaison to the group all week) to the hospitality and the opportunity to return home with new knowledge. Several of our visitors also specifically mentioned the trip to the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus. As I was unable to accompany the delegation that day, I asked Dr. Rita Kranidis, who helped organize the campus visit, to share highlights from the day.

On Thursday, September 22, 12 members of the USIEF-MC delegation visited the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus, where they were welcomed by Vice President and Provost Brad Stewart. Following a brief general orientation, they visited Dr. Greg Wahl’s EN101 class and had a chance to observe teaching. The visit wound down with tours of the Cultural Arts Center (including backstage and balcony views) and the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts Center, where they saw potters, painters, and sculptors at work.

Studying "Mother India" Abroad

(India Delegation Visit) Permanent link

Complementing the India initiative,  the College's study abroad, history, and anthropology programs are participating in an educational tour of India  December 29, 2011, through January 10, 2012. Entitled "Mother India," the visit will examine the fusion and diffusion of Indian cultural heritage, the origins of Indian spirituality, and Mughal India.

To participate, a required pre-departure class will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2011. Additionally, anyone interested should contact Dr. Greg Malveaux, study abroad coordinator, at

A full itinerary is available online at this link .


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