Montgomery College continues to take an active role in providing excellent and accessible academic opportunities and, in turn, creating a stronger Maryland. Taking an active role means that even with successes, we never become complacent: we foster increased levels of student completion; we remain relevant to the needs of our community; and we create innovative educational opportunities. Our new mission, vision, and core values statements are designed to inspire faculty, staff, and administrators to recommit to empowering our students to change their lives and to help strategically position the College and our community for a thriving future. We are accountable for our results.
During the past fiscal year, Montgomery College welcomed me as the new president—a significant change for the institution and in my own life. I am honored, and humbled, to take over the reins of such an outstanding community college, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and the community to ensure Montgomery College is the most relevant community college in the country.
To reach that goal, 2010 brought a renewed commitment to improving our student completion rates. Why is completion important? The U.S. has lost its share of young adults with post-secondary degrees, falling from first to 12th place (PDF-2.18MB). The president of the United States has called on colleges and universities to take action and help the nation reclaim the lead. I am proud to stand with Maryland’s other community colleges in signing the “Promise to Act,” a pledge to increase the number of degrees awarded by nearly two-thirds by 2025.
We are on our way: in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, the College produced the largest class of graduates in our more than 65-year history. We spent much of the year redesigning our developmental math program to ensure that needing extra help to tackle college-level math courses is not a barrier to a post-secondary degree. We will rollout the redesign this fall across the College.
Meeting our completion agenda is critical in today’s innovation economy. Studies show the majority of future jobs in Maryland will require at least two years of post-secondary education. Maryland needs workers for the knowledge-based economy—scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs—as well as electricians, nurses, surgical technicians, firefighters and the like. Data from the National Skills Coalition shows a “skills” gap for middle-skill jobs, which make up the largest part of America’s labor market. According to the Coalition (PDF-3.07MB), about 44 percent of Maryland’s jobs were in middle-skill occupations, but only 38 percent of the state’s workers were likely to have the appropriate training for these jobs. From the planned Bioscience Education Center in Germantown to the new Science Center at the Rockville Campus to the growing and self-sustaining Workforce Development and Continuing Education program, the College is constantly adapting to create the workforce of tomorrow.
In order to be even more relevant, Montgomery College must increase our innovation footprint. At my inauguration last October, we launched the Innovation Fund to encourage and support cutting-edge ideas. In everything we do, the College is embracing a can-do attitude to continue to expand educational boundaries: expanding classroom curriculum, renovating our facilities, and forging strategic community partnerships.
The economic recession in FY11 prompted challenges for the College, as it did for other institutions and government agencies across the country. It is important to note that, thanks to our advocacy efforts and the generosity of our government partners, Montgomery College does remain one of the most generously locally-funded community colleges. Still, economic realities required us all to make sacrifices. We continued to be very deliberate about our funding priorities. Our staff, faculty, and, administrators remained committed to facing the economic challenges head on and ensuring our academic excellence remains a priority.
While we remain reliant on public funding, the College is creating new opportunities in innovative and entrepreneurial ways to generate supplemental revenue. It means reaching out for more grants, looking for more community donors, and forming more partnerships with the business community. Our faculty and staff secured more than $8 million in new public grant awards and more than $3 million from private individuals and corporations this past year.
I want to thank our Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and students who spent FY11 making Montgomery College a shining example of what a community college can and should be. I would like to thank our Congressional delegation, members of the Maryland General Assembly, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, and the County Council for believing in our mission and helping us build a stronger Maryland.
I invite you to take a look at some of our many accomplishments from this past year. Thank you for welcoming me into your community and I look forward to many more years of continued success.
Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard
Montgomery College President