Learn More About MCCC At Fall Open Houses

Blue Bell/Pottstown/Lansdale, PA—Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) will hold three open houses this fall to provide prospective students and their families with information about the College’s programs, campuses and activities. To register, visithttp://www.mc3.edu/fallopenhouse or call 215-628-2969 for Central Campus, 610-427-4984 for West Campus or 267-646-5970 for The Culinary Arts Institute.

The College’s Central Campus, located at 340 DeKalb Pike in Blue Bell, will host an open house on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 9 to 11 a.m.

The College’s West Campus, located at 101 College Drive in Pottstown, will host an open house on Saturday, Nov. 5, from 9 to 11 a.m.

The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College, located at 1400 Forty Foot Road in Lansdale, will host an open house on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m.-noon.

Both the Central and West Campus open houses will provide information about the College’s 100+ associate degree and certificate programs, as well as information about the admissions process, paying for college, academic support, transfer opportunities, the Virtual Campus, the University Center, intercollegiate athletics and student organizations and clubs, among other topics. Tours will be given and alumni will be on hand to speak with students and families.

At The Culinary Arts Institute’s open house in the Towamencin Town Square complex, attendees will have the opportunity to tour the kitchens and classrooms while learning about Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts and Hospitality associate degree programs, as well as Culinary Enthusiast classes and other non-credit offerings. Representatives will be on hand to answer questions about the admissions process, financial aid, scholarships, and the transfer partnership with Johnson & Wales University, among other topics.

To learn more about all that Montgomery County Community College has to offer, visit http://www.mc3.edu.

MCCC Celebrates Student Success At 2016 Commencement Ceremony

PROCESSION: Associate Professor of Sociology Lee Wood leads to the procession of graduates at Montgomery County Community College’s 49th Commencement ceremony. Photo by John Welsh

PROCESSION: Associate Professor of Sociology Lee Wood leads to the procession of graduates at Montgomery County Community College’s 49th Commencement ceremony. Photo by John Welsh

Blue Bell, PA —Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) celebrated the success of 1,555 graduates during its 2016 Commencement ceremony on May 19 in Blue Bell.

Ranging in age from 18-70, from 11 countries throughout the world, graduating with 1,597 degrees and certificates in more than 30 areas of study—the class of 2016 reflects the diversity of MCCC’s student body.

Among the members of the class of 2016 are 34 military veterans, 17 international students, 32 student athletes, 294 members of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, 30 graduates from MCCC’s Culinary Arts Institute, 62 graduates from the MCCC Municipal Police Academy, and 45 Virtual Campus students who completed their degrees entirely online. In addition, 133 graduates started their education as dual enrollment students from 30 different high schools.

“You are a remarkably diverse, committed group of students. All of you share an unquenchable determination and hunger for learning,” MCCC President Dr. Kevin Pollock told the graduates during his welcome.

Dr. Pollock also shared a statistic of which he is particularly proud.

“This year, our student body, including many graduates here tonight, logged over 20,000 hours of community service, making a difference on our campuses and in the community,” he said. “Don’t ever lose your drive to improve the world. You will make a difference.”

The theme of opening doors and seizing opportunities carried throughout the evening’s speeches.

“Tonight, I will share three important lessons with you: look for opportunity in every situation; don’t give up; and make a difference,” said PECO President and CEO Craig L. Adams, who provided the keynote address. “There is always a way.”

Adams shared his own educational journey, which, like MCCC’s graduates, started at a community college.

“When I was young, I didn’t think I’d have the change to go to college—but there was a way,” he said. “You will encounter many barriers. Don’t let then stop you from doing what you want to do.”

JACQUELINE RAMOS: Jacqueline Ramos, Hatfield, provided the student address at Montgomery County Community College’s 49th Commencement ceremony on May 19, 2016. She graduated with an A.A.S. in Baking and Pastry Arts and a Certificate in Culinary Arts. Photo by John Welsh

JACQUELINE RAMOS: Jacqueline Ramos, Hatfield, provided the student address at Montgomery County Community College’s 49th Commencement ceremony on May 19, 2016. She graduated with an A.A.S. in Baking and Pastry Arts and a Certificate in Culinary Arts. Photo by John Welsh

A highlight of the evening was the student address, given by 2016 MCCC Culinary Arts Institute graduate Jacqueline Ramos, of Hatfield.

Ramos passionately shared her experiences as a student, drawing laughter when she recalled Lecturer and Chef Julia Quay creating a ServSafe version of Justin Timberlake’s song “Suit and Tie” to teach the students about foodborne illnesses.

“Never did I feel such a part of my school as I do here. Thanks to Montco and the Culinary Arts Institute, I became part of a family,” she said.

Ramos, who graduated with an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S) in Baking and Pastry Arts and a Certificate in Culinary Arts, also encouraged graduates to be open to new opportunities.

“Regardless of why we enrolled in that first class at Montgomery County Community College, we opened a door! I encourage you to walk through [that door] ready to conquer the world!” she said. “Be open to opportunities and take advantage of them when they come to you. They will open even more doors and new adventures.”

In addition to serving as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez presented several awards for teaching excellence to MCCC faculty based on nominations by their colleagues and students.

The late Dr. Lee Bender, who passed away recently after serving MCCC for 48 years as a Professor of Economics and Dean of Business and Computer Science, was posthumously honored with the Pearlstine Award for Teaching Excellence, presented bi-annually to a full-time faculty member.

“Dr. Bender’s unparalleled 48-year tenure at the College, coupled with his commitment to lifelong learning, academic excellence and student success, were cited as clear reasons for his nomination for this award—or as one nominator called it, ‘the College’s first lifetime achievement award for excellence in teaching and excellence in administration.”

Bender’s wife, Carol Shilling, accepted the award on his behalf.

Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards, sponsored by Barnes & Noble and presented for only the second time, were awarded to Senior Psychology Lecturer Mary Brenna Burch and Senior Biology Lecturer Ricardo Lopez.

Following the conferring of degrees, Dr. Bastecki-Perez ended the evening with words of inspiration to the class of 2016.

“Ghandhi is famously quote as saying, ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world.’ Graduates, each one of you has taken a step toward being that change by investing in your education and in your future. Your vision, hard work, and perseverance will serve as an example for generations to come. I wish each and every one of you a bright future filled with happiness and success. Congratulations to the class of 2016!”

Community Is Invited To Mobile Job Lab And Open House At MCCC’s University Center‏

Pottstown, PA —Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) University Center, in partnership with its Career Services and the TriCounty Community Network (TCN), will be hosting a Mobile Job Lab and Open House on Monday, May 2, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the University Center, 95 S. Hanover Street, Pottstown. The Mobile Job Lab and Open House are open to the community as well as MCCC students.

At the Mobile Job Lab, MCCC’s Career Services representatives and volunteers from TCN will assist participants with searching for jobs, writing resumes and using LinkedIn to create career profiles and broaden their networks. The services are free, and walk-ins are welcome.

During the Open House, visitors can meet with representatives from the University Center’s partners—Albright College, Cabrini College, Chestnut Hill College, Immaculata University and Temple University—to learn about their programs and available degrees and certificates. MCCC representatives also will be on hand to provide information about the Virtual Campus and admission process.

MCCC’s University Center will be hosting future Mobile Job Labs on June 6, Aug. 1, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5.

For more information about the University Center, visit http://www.mc3.edu/university-center.

For updates, like and follow the University Center on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UniversityCenterMC3.

MCCC Ranked Top ‘Tech Savvy’ Community College In Nation‏

MCCC DigitalBlue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.—Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) is ranked as the top community college in the country for its use of technology according to a recent Digital Community Colleges Survey issued by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Education (CDE). The 250 data-point survey analyzes how community colleges use digital technologies to improve services to students, faculty, staff and the community at large.

MCCC, with campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, Pa., has ranked among the survey’s top 10 large community colleges since CDE introduced it 11 years ago. This is the fourth time MCCC has ranked first.

“Earning the top spot in CDE’s annual survey is an impressive honor. Earning it four times in the past 11 years is extraordinary. I am extremely proud of Montgomery County Community College’s faculty and staff for embracing technology and using it in creative ways to build student access and success and to improve student retention and completion,” shared MCCC President Dr. Kevin Pollock.

A key reason for MCCC’s success over the last decade is its holistic approach to using technology.

“IT innovation is no longer about the technology itself. However, when that technology is combined with vision, creativity and leadership, it has the power to revolutionize teaching and learning,” said Dr. Celeste Schwartz, vice president for information technology and research at MCCC.

At MCCC, Schwartz and her team of IT professionals play an integral role in college-wide initiatives and planning.

“It’s important for my team to see the connections between their work and the work of other areas—to understand, for example, how IT can support initiatives in Academic Affairs or Student Affairs,” said Schwartz.

Empowerment is key. MCCC’s IT team works with faculty and staff to help them leverage technology so they can make informed decisions that lead to improved student access and success. The technology can, in turn, empower students to take charge of their education.

Blackboard Analytics

Analytics through MCCC’s learning management system Blackboard provides an excellent opportunity. By using analytics, faculty can follow student behavior trends and can personalize the student learning environment, identify potential learning concerns and adjust the course content flow as needed.

To illustrate, MCCC Political Science Assistant Professor Jodi Empol-Schwartz worked with

Instructional Designer Mary-Kathleen Najarian to redesign course assessment based on student retention throughout the semester.

“Throughout the semester, student retention would fluctuate based on the due date of the assignment. I tried to adjust the dates, introduce rough drafts and instituted a number of failed reforms, but retention and the level of critical thinking did not change,” explained Empol-Schwartz.

She worked with Najarian to change the assignment. Instead of one large research project, she divided it into two parts—one research and one analytics. She also divided her exams into two parts—multiple choice and essay—and gave students an entire class period to complete each.

“After using Blackboard Analytics, student retention not only increased, but the students were actively engaging in critical thinking. The quality of the students’ work increased dramatically,” she said.

MCCC faculty also use predictive analytics to help students stay on the path to success.

“Analytics might not tell you the whole story, but it does give you talking points to start the conversation with a student and provide early intervention if he or she continues on the current path,” said Najarian.

The students, themselves, can also access analytics tools in Blackboard so they can see, in real time, how they are doing compared to their classmates.

“Don’t be left behind by your fear of data. You can use data to lead the pack,” said Empol-Schwartz.

Advising and Student Planning

The College’s redesigned advising process is another example of how MCCC uses technology to improve student success and completion. A grant from the Gates Foundation enabled MCCC to launch an Integrated Planning and Advising Services (IPAS) initiative as part of its Student Success Network.

Phase one of MCCC’s Student Success Network was comprised of three parts: an early alert system that enables faculty and advisors to monitor progress and identify at-risk behaviors; an educational planning tool that allows students to map out their entire degree or certificate program; and a student dashboard system that provides a single source for information about their financial aid, Blackboard engagement, early alert and education planning.

“We have seen a number of positive results. There has been an increase in student persistence as students gain greater access to planning resources and as they receive greater feedback on their progress. We have also seen increases in full- and part-time persistence rates from 2011 through 2015 for all new and returning students,” explained Assistant Professor and Academic Advisor Stefanie Crouse.

Work on phase two is underway and includes building out career exploration and financial planning components of MCCC’s Student Success Network, as well as adding additional analytics.

“This work will complement our ‘Student Success Matters’ resource: an online, open-source, interactive series of free courses we developed to educate students in the areas of financial, civic, and digital literacies,” explained Crouse.

Virtual Campus

Earlier this year, MCCC’s Virtual Campus received its first-ever “Learning! 100” award from Elearning! magazine. The award recognized the comprehensive process through which MCCC faculty design and refresh their online courses.

According to Kelly Trahan, director of MCCC’s Virtual Campus, that process is two-fold. New faculty learn how to teach online and build academic courses by participating in a collaborative course of their own—e-Learning 101 (EL 101), facilitated by an instructional designer. Meanwhile, existing online faculty engage in a “refresh” process any time curricular modifications are made.

“Our faculty are dedicated to creating a high-quality learning experience for students, regardless of location,” shared Trahan. “We also have a very strong information technology team that supports faculty and students and is always looking for the best products and tech to improve students’ experiences.”

MCCC’s Virtual Campus also offers support services to online students. Examples include online advising, access to live tutors, support discussion boards and online readiness resources.

“We have a tutorial that teaches students how to navigate Blackboard, time management and technical literacy. It’s free once they register for an online course,” said Trahan.

About the Center for Digital Education

The Center for Digital Education is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy, and funding. CDE provides education and industry leaders with decision support and actionable insight to help effectively incorporate new technologies in the 21st century.

CDE is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education. To learn more, visit centerdigitaled.com.

Community Invited To Mobile Job Lab And Open House At MCCC’s University Center

Pottstown, PA —Montgomery County Community College’s University Center, in partnership with its Career Services and the TriCounty Community Network (TCN), will be hosting a Mobile Job Lab and an Open House on Monday, Feb. 1, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the University Center, 95 S. Hanover Street, Pottstown. Both the Mobile Job Lab and Open House are open to the community, as well as MCCC students.

For the Mobile Job Lab, MCCC’s Career Services representatives and volunteers from TCN will assist participants with searching for jobs, writing resumes and using LinkedIn to create career profiles and broaden their contact networks. The services are free, and walk-ins are welcome.

During the Open House, visitors can meet with representatives from the University Center’s partners—Albright College, Chestnut Hill College, Immaculata University and Temple University—to learn about their programs and available degrees and certificates. MCCC representatives also will be on hand to provide information about the Virtual Campus and admission process.

For more information about the University Center, visit http://www.mc3.edu/universitycenter. For updates, like and follow the University Center on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UniversityCenterMC3.

MCCC Virtual Campus Earns National Recognition From ‘Elearning!’ Magazine‏

PHOTO: Montgomery County Community College’s Virtual Campus earned a “Learning 100” award from Elearning! magazine. Showcasing the award are (from left) Thomas Liwinski, Virtual Campus resource specialist; Dr. James J. Linksz, interim president; Kelly Trahan, Virtual Campus director; and Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, vice president of academic affairs and provost. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

PHOTO: Montgomery County Community College’s Virtual Campus earned a “Learning 100” award from Elearning! magazine. Showcasing the award are (from left) Thomas Liwinski, Virtual Campus resource specialist; Dr. James J. Linksz, interim president; Kelly Trahan, Virtual Campus director; and Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, vice president of academic affairs and provost. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Blue Bell, Pa.—Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) Virtual Campus is receiving national attention after earning its first-ever “Learning! 100” award from Elearning! magazine in late 2015.

The award recognizes innovative learning programs in public and private sectors across the country. MCCC ranked 24th in the public sector category and was recognized, specifically, for the comprehensive process through which faculty design and refresh their online courses.

According to Kelly Trahan, director of MCCC’s Virtual Campus, that process is two-fold. New faculty learn how to teach online and build academic courses by participating in a collaborative course of their own—e-Learning 101 (EL 101), facilitated by an instructional designer. Meanwhile, existing online faculty engage in a “refresh” process any time curricular modifications are made.

“EL 101 exposes new faculty to best practices in e-Learning while they learn how to build an online course for the first time, explained Trahan. “The refresh process is one of checks and balances. Faculty evaluate their courses to ensure they are meeting their intended goals while providing the appropriate level of work for their students.”

To date, 95 percent of the 300-plus Virtual Campus courses currently offered have undergone the “refresh” process.

“Our faculty are dedicated to creating a high-quality learning experience for students, regardless of location,” shared Trahan. “We also have a very strong information technology (IT) team that supports faculty and students and is always looking for the best products and tech to improve students’ experiences.”

While the latest recognition focused on faculty processes, MCCC’s Virtual Campus offers a great deal of support to online students as well. Examples include online advising, access to live tutors, support discussion boards and online readiness resources.

“We have a short course that teaches students how to navigate BlackBoard, time management and course netiquette. It’s free once they register for an online course,” said Trahan.

In fall 2015, 3,654 students were enrolled in online and hybrid courses through MCCC’s Virtual Campus—an increase of close to six percent over the previous year. Currently, the Virtual Campus features more than 300 online and hybrid courses in over 30 degree and certificate programs. Courses are offered in flexible seven, 10 and 15-week sessions, as well as 21-day winter session.

To learn more about MCCC’s Virtual Campus, visit http://www.mc3.edu/virtual.

Harrisburg Area Community College Scores Home Run With York County Branch

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

Image via Wikipedia

When Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) opened their York County branch in 2003, I wonder if anyone could have predicted the rapid growth that followed.

Community Colleges are a great alternative to four-year institutions because of the price differential and flexibility they offer.  For a fraction of the cost associated with traditional four-year institutions, students can work full-time and attend classes around their busy schedules for a substantially lower cost per credit hour.

HACC’s York College branch has seen tremendous growth.  The York campus saw a 34% increase in enrollment between 2008 and 2009.  Enrollment stands and 2,900 students, which is up 5% since the Spring 2010 semester.  There is competition in the York market for college students.  York College, Penn State York and nearby Millersville University already compete for students.  To have the student body swell to nearly 3,000 students in only 8 years demonstrates a need in the York market for affordable education.

The York branch is the fastest growing campus in the HACC family.  HACC has campuses in Harrisburg, Gettysburg, Lebanon, Lancaster and York as well as a Virtual Campus.  There are more than 23,000 students are enrolled at HAAC’S five brick and mortar campuses and over 5,300 at the Virtual Campus (online courses).

For more information:  http://www.hacc.edu/