Letter from Karen A. Stout, President, Montgomery County Community College

Dear Colleagues:

It is with mixed emotions that I follow-up Trustee D'Aniello's gracious announcement and personally share with you my acceptance of the position of President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, the country's only non-profit reform network helping more low income students and students of color gain access to and succeed in our nation's community colleges.  The formal announcement of my acceptance will be made in a few moments at the opening of the Achieving the Dream national conference.  Fortunately, I will be able to share this news with some of the College faculty and staff who will be in attendance. They are among the many of you who have worked tirelessly on our student success agenda since we were selected to join the Achieving the Dream network in 2006.

The mission of ATD is at the heart of the reason I chose a career in community colleges.  And, it is because of our collective work around student success---our failures and our successes--and the urgent need for our colleges to do more around issues of equity---that I feel it time for me to step out to lead this work in a broader way.

This has not been an easy decision and the opportunity came at me fast.  This college is special.  I have always felt like I belong here. I have said that and felt that from my first day on campus.  The idea of leaving a campus, where all the really hard work around teaching and learning is accomplished, is difficult for me.  I love our students, our faculty, our administrators and staff, our alumni and our community at large.  A colleague of mine once advised me not to "fall in love" with "your" college.  Unfortunately, I got that advice too late.  I love Montgomery County Community College.  I love our uniqueness and I love how we've been able to come together to meet challenges and move our mission forward one student at a time. 

There will be many opportunities over the coming days and weeks for me to visit with you to share my deep appreciation for all that you do to make our college special.   Thank you for all your support and investment in the College and thank you for your encouragement and personal support over these past 14 years. 

As Aidan Altenor said in a phrase used as the title to Charles Reilly's wonderful oral history of the college published to commemorate our 25th anniversary, "Ah Montco, What a Place!"