MCCC President Returns To White House For College Opportunity Working Session

Karen Stout 2013Washington D.C.Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) President Dr. Karen A. Stout returns to the White House Aug. 12 to continue the national dialog on college readiness that began on Jan. 16, 2014 during a summit convened by U.S. President Barack Obama. That summit saw approximately 140 leaders from higher education, philanthropic organizations, businesses and local and state governments launch a plan of action for increasing college opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged students.

Summit participants are reconvening Aug. 12 to provide updates on their institutional commitments made in January and to discuss challenges and next steps. MCCC’s commitments include three specific initiatives aimed improving access for low-income and disadvantaged students. These include redesigning student entry and advising processes, developing a multi-platform model for student engagement, and expanding its minority student mentoring initiative.

First, to improve student entry and advising processes, MCCC launched a pilot Student Success Network in March.  The network includes college-wide mid-term reporting, which garnered a 96 percent faculty participation rate and positive student and faculty feedback. The network also employs Starfish Retention and Connect software, through which students are able to see and connect with members of their student success team—advisors, faculty and staff from other support programs, like veterans’ resources and disability services. Faculty can refer students to tutoring and can address concerns and reinforce positive academic behaviors throughout the semester. These tools will be brought to scale this fall.

In September, MCCC will also launch student educational planning, which requires advisors to meet with all first-time college students prior to spring registration to map out their educational plans for their entire degree programs. In addition, analytical tools, including student and advisor dashboards, will be available by end of 2014.

MCCC also made significant progress on its second commitment—developing a multi-platform model for student engagement—by creating a “Montco Money Matters” financial literacy prototype. The module introduces students to the concept of paying for college. The 30-minute, self-guided program introduces students to concepts of financial aid, loans and grants; highlights the long-term implications of loans and future debt; and makes them aware of other resources, like scholarships, to help pay for college.

A total of 425 students actively engaged in the pilot program during a seven-week period. Of those, 95 percent of students who provided feedback indicated they will recommend the online resources to others, and 80 percent said the course will influence future academic decisions. MCCC’s next step is to build out additional modules under the umbrella of financial literacy and to make the program accessible to school districts within Montgomery County and to the general population at large.

Finally, MCCC delivered on its third commitment to transition its Minority Male Mentoring Program (MMMP) into a Minority Student Mentoring Initiative (MSMI). Twenty-five African-American and Latina female students joined MSMI in spring 2014, comprising almost 27 percent of all participants. The program connects students with caring mentors for guidance and support while providing opportunities for civic engagement, academic advisement, personal development and leadership development. The participants’ cumulative GPA is currently 2.45, up from 2.15 three years ago.

All three programs are part of MCCC’s overarching Student Success Initiative, which works to expand access to higher education and increase student success through process improvements and support strategies that reduce the barriers for students to complete their education. In 2011, MCCC was designed as an Achieving the Dream Leader College, an elite group of 73 community colleges across the country that have demonstrated committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement, and systematic institutional improvement. In February, MCCC earned the prestigious Leah Meyer Austin Award from Achieving the Dream for its continued improvement of student access and success.

During her 13-year tenure as MCCC President, Dr. Stout’s unwavering commitment to student access and success has impacted thousands of students, their families, and the community. In addition to laying the groundwork for MCCC’s selection as an Achieving the Dream Leader College, Dr. Stout helped to design and launch the College’s first comprehensive Honors Program and Minority Student Mentoring Program; expand support services for student veterans; re-introduce MCCC’s intercollegiate athletics program; collaborate with the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board to deliver GED instruction to more than 800 community residents; and re-energize the College’s facilities to enhance teaching and learning, among many other accomplishments.

The impact of Dr. Stout’s leadership extends nationally, evidenced by her selection to participate in the White House’s College Opportunity initiatives. A passionate advocate for community colleges, Dr. Stout serves as Chair of the President’s Advisory Board to the Community College Research Center at Columbia University Teacher’s College and is a Commissioner with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. She previously served as a member of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Board of Directors and as co-chair of the American Association of Community College’s (AACC) 21st-Century Initiative Steering Committee.

Dr. Stout holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and a bachelor’s degree in English from University of Delaware, as well as a master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Baltimore.

MCCC Builds Financial Literacy Model With ‘Next Generation Learning Challenges’ Grant

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.— Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) has received a $100,000 grant to build on the success of a financial literacy prototype, developed as part of the inaugural Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) Breakthrough Models Incubator (BMI) cohort.

Last May, MCCC was one of seven institutions selected for the inaugural cohort. Each institution received $50,000 to design and launch a technology-based support program, specifically created to improve completion rates, the quality of student learning and the time it takes for degree completion. Last week, each of the seven institutions from the initial cohort received the next phase of funding, $100,000, made possible by a grant from EDUCAUSE through Next Generation Learning Challenges.

After participating in NGLC’s three-day workshop in July, MCCC’s team of eight faculty and staff was given three months to develop a prototype based on the College’s initial proposal to improve first-time students’ understanding of financial, civic, and digital literacies through the creation of a “New Literacy” Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

“Students cite ‘financial concerns’ as the top reason for dropping out of courses, especially during the first two weeks of a semester. Therefore, in order to make significant gains in student retention and completion, we must first improve our students’ understanding of financial literacy,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president, MCCC.  “Our team has done outstanding work in building a pilot that has already helped hundreds of students strengthen their understand the financial aid process.”

After engaging students through focus groups and surveys, MCCC developed “Montco Money Matters,” a module that introduces students to the concept of paying for college. By working with content, media, technology and design experts from across MCCC, the team produced a multi-channel module that includes video displays, social media and face-to-face engagement, along with an online course-like experience.

The 30-minute, self-guided program introduces students to concepts of financial aid, loans and grants; highlights the long-term implications of loans and future debt; and makes them aware of other resources, like scholarships, to help pay for college. The program incorporates open-source and original content, including a computer-generated tour guide, short video clips featuring actual MCCC students, and links to off-campus resources that allow students to delve further into topics of interest.

A total of 425 students actively engaged in the pilot program during a seven-week period during the fall 2013 semester. Of those, 95 percent of students who provided feedback indicated they will recommend the online resources to others, and 80 percent said the course will influence future academic decisions. In addition, feedback revealed that student loans and scholarship information were the most valuable topics covered, and money management is a topic on which many students would like more information.

With the prototype completed and funding secured, MCCC’s next step is to build out additional modules under the umbrella of financial literacy. These modules could address topics such as cash management, budgeting, shopping for textbooks, transportation, loans and debt, among others. The College also hopes to make “Montco Money Matters” accessible to school districts within Montgomery County and to the general population at large.

In addition to Montgomery, six other selected schools are part of the inaugural NGLC BMI cohort, including Austin Peay State University, Ball State University, Charter Oak State College, SUNY-Empire State College, Harper College and the University of Maryland-University College.

About Montgomery County Community College

Since its founding in 1964, Montgomery County Community College has grown with the community to meet the evolving educational and workforce development needs of Montgomery County. The College’s comprehensive curriculum includes 100+ associate degree/certificate programs, as well as specialized workforce development training and certifications. Students enjoy the flexibility of learning at the College’s thriving campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, online through an extensive array of e-Learning options, or at the new Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale. The College also offers first-responder training programs at the Public Safety Training Campus in Conshohocken. Supporting its mission to offer high-quality, affordable and accessible educational opportunities, the College is funded by the County, the State, student tuition and private contributions. Governed by a 15-person Board of Trustees appointed by the Montgomery County Commissioners, the College is fully accredited by the Commission of Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

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Lehigh University South Side Initiative Looking To Get Campus Bus Into City

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lehigh University runs buses to the Lehigh Valley Mall and The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley.

But not into South Side Bethlehem.

Some at Lehigh are looking to change that. It’s an idea that came out of an open community meeting held last month by Lehigh’s South Side Initiative.

“So many here at Lehigh depend on the bus or the bus system that wraps through the upper and lower campus,” said John Pettegrew, the initiative’s director. “It would just be a practical addition to include a route that goes into Third Street and possibly SteelStacks or any other destinations.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/04/lehigh_university_south_side_i.html

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State College Police: Criminal Activity Down Again On State Patty’s Day

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STATE COLLEGE, PA — Police activity on the Penn State student-created drinking holiday State Patty’s Day was down for the third consecutive year, State College police Lt. Bradley Smail said Sunday.

Police said late Sunday that initial numbers indicate total crime was down 47 percent and arrests decreased 61 percent. Smail said the activity was more in line with a typical football weekend than the normally damaging day of drinking.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of destructive behavior,” Smail said anecdotally, in comparison to previous years.

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Penn State Reports 16-Percent Increase In Applications From Prospective Students

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Penn State is seeing a boom in the number of undergraduate applications for admission in the next academic year.

As of Monday, the university had received almost 46,000 applications from prospective baccalaureate students, a figure that is more than 7,500 ahead of the number of applications received at this time last year. The count is more in line with the number of applications received at this time in 2010 and 2011.

From this applicant pool, the university has made 11,000 offers.

Ramada Near Deal With King’s College, Sources Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA —The King’s College physician-assistant program has attracted several hundred applicants, and the college is looking for space to allow that expansion.

Apparently, that space might be the Ramada Hotel on Public Square.

Although sources said no deal has been struck to date, several indicated that there is a strong interest from King’s in the 105-room hotel that opened in the 1980s as the Sheraton-Crossgates.

Tony Grosek, owner of the Ramada, said he has been talking to college officials about entering into a long-term deal, but Grosek said he couldn’t confirm that anything has been finalized.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/933106/Ramada-near-deal-with-Kings-College-sources-say

Radnor Panel Rejects Villanova Expansion

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Delaware County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Delaware County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Radnor Township Planning Commission has rejected Villanova University‘s request for a zoning change that would allow a major expansion of the Lancaster Avenue campus with new dormitories, a parking garage, a performing arts center, and stores.

The $200 million plan has upset residents, who say it would transform a quiet neighborhood into a noisy extension of the 10,600-student Wildcat campus.

The university was seeking a conditional use to allow denser development than allowed, Planning Commission Chairwoman Julia Hurle said.

The commission was concerned was that the zoning change would not be restricted to the university, she said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/suburban_pa/20130509_Radnor_panel_rejects_Villanova_expansion.html#ocW7DQUa1jGWuMYC.99

Town By Town: Haddington, A Growing Area In West Philadelphia

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighti...

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighting West Philadelphia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a time 60th Street in Haddington was called “Real Estate Row,” because of the 22 realty offices that lined both sides of the thoroughfare.

Given the changing fortunes of the housing market, that time has past in many places, not just this nearly one-mile-square chunk of West Philadelphia hugging the Market-Frankford El – which, not surprisingly, was the catalyst for the neighborhood’s birth in 1903 and subsequent growth.

Sandidge & Co., at 40 N. 60th St., is the lone survivor on Real Estate Row, and after 50 years in business, broker E. Paul Sandidge remains “the authority” on real estate in the neighborhood, says Terry Guerra, director of special projects for the nonprofit ACHIEVEability, which has its headquarters in Haddington.

ACHIEVEability owns more than 200 properties throughout Haddington and Cobbs Creek, where its clients live while they complete two- and four-year academic programs to become nurses, social workers, teachers, and computer specialists.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/town-by-town/20130505_Town_By_Town__Haddington__a_growing_area_in_W__Phila_.html

Crime Has Some Thinking Twice About Philly Life

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Ph...

English: This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph, not copyrighted Ed Yakovich http://www.flickr.com/photos/10396190@N04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BORN-AND-RAISED Philadelphian Danielle Harvey never really saw herself moving away from her hometown.

Then, last spring, she witnessed a shooting at the same bus stop where she had been robbed about a month before.

Harvey, 24, who worked at a law office in Center City, said that she was able to shake off the robbery, in which her phone was stolen and pockets rifled through at a bus stop outside Frankford’s Margaret-Orthodox El station.

“You live in the city, this stuff happens,” she said.  “That made me think this city is getting a little tiring to live in, but I never really imagined myself being somebody who could move.”

Then, about a month later, as she waited at the same bus stop, a man across the street from where she stood was shot in the neck.

“[The shooting] was pretty much the thing that more or less sealed it for me thinking I should get out of here,” she said.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130225_Crime_has_some_thinking_twice_about_Philly_life.html

Huge Alcohol Crackdown At California University Of Pennsylvania

Map of Washington County higlighting California.

Image via Wikipedia

Over the weekend police in California, Pennsylvania were busy writing up dozens of citations for underage drinking and alcohol-related offenses.  38 people were cited, at various locations in California Borough, for disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, holding a loud party, having an open container of alcohol and underage drinking.

James Donofrio, 21, of Venetia, is charged with supplying alcohol to minors, tampering with evidence and disorderly conduct.

Two people were taken to Mon Valley Hospital for consuming too much alcohol.

The Brownsville Telegraph is also reporting that 90 citations were issued at the Theta X Frat House over the weekend, mostly for underage drinking.  California University of Pennsylvania is located within the borough of California, PA.