In 2000, following the sudden death of the College's third president, Dr. Edward Sweitzer, the College's Board of Trustees embarked on a mission to find an individual who could serve as this College's fourth president and take Montgomery County Community College into the 21st century. For me -- a graduate with firsthand experience of what a community college can do -- the single most important goal was to find an individual whose character embodied our core mission: to provide the citizens of Montgomery County and all of our students, no matter their economic status, the highest quality education at the most affordable tuition possible. In January, 2001, we found that person in Dr. Karen Stout.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the average tenure of a community college president is approaching six years and getting shorter! Given this reality, our Board of Trustees has been fully aware that as our College gained the national spotlight, we risked that others would notice the many diamonds we possess throughout our institution. It is therefore, with mixed emotions – and tremendous pride at the success of one of our own -- that I, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, announce that Dr. Karen Stout has been selected to serve on a national platform which will require her to leave the presidency here at the College.
Please join me in congratulating Dr. Stout as she embarks on her new role as President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc., (ATD) the national, nonprofit leader in championing evidence-based institutional improvement across U.S. community colleges. She will remain at the College through commencement and assume leadership of ATD on July 1, 2015.
Thankfully, we will maintain an important connection with Dr. Stout. The policies and strategies that she will implement at the helm of ATD will benefit our students along with more than 200 sister ATD institutions as well as unaffiliated community colleges, reaching nearly four million students across the country.
The Karen Stout Presidency: An Appreciation
Karen Stout’s tenure as President of Montgomery County Community College has been nothing short of transformational, from the establishment of many academic and support opportunities for students to an expanded campus footprint from Pottstown to Lansdale. There is no aspect of the College that has not benefited from her vision and commitment.
To offer a topline:
Shortly after Dr. Stout's installation, the College launched an honors program, established the Alumni Hall of Fame, and put into place a 10-year facilities master plan like none this college had ever seen. We opened North Hall at West Campus, establishing a true college campus in the heart of Pottstown. By 2007, our Advanced Technology Center opened, marking the College as one of the top technologically advanced community colleges in the country.
In one of the many collegiate and high school partnerships established, Montgomery County Community College was selected as a partner in the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship with Bucknell University. The Bucknell partnership continues today even though the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation funding has ended, not only because of the success of our students, but also because of Dr. Stout's relationship-building skills.
As a three-sport athlete at Bel Air High School, Karen Stout was named The Baltimore Sun's first female prep Athlete of the Year in 1978 (edging out a rising tennis star from McDonogh School named Pam Shriver). She therefore made it a priority to reinstate intercollegiate athletics here, re-launching our Montco Mustangs and boosting campus spirit.
We privately raised funds to renovate and reopen the Fine Arts Center in our historic Art Barn facility and create a dynamic Lively Arts Series to boost campus and community engagement. To support the unique needs of our local veterans, we created a Veterans Success Center and have been identified as a military-friendly school for multiple years.
We put into place a minority male mentoring program, which led in part to the College being designated a Leader College by the Achieving the Dream Foundation (ATD) and recipient of its highest honor, the Leah Meyer Austin award, in 2014, for building a whole-college solution to improving student success. During 2010, we renovated Parkhouse Hall and completed Phase 1 of the Riverfront Academic Inheritance Center, at the same time opening our Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in Parkhouse Hall and a state-of-the-art Children’s Center to support student parents.
By 2011, the College was regularly winning national recognition in multiple areas. Our success in improving student outcomes led to the College’s joining the National College Completion Challenge, along with participation in the AACC pilot program to create a voluntary framework of accountability. It also led to an invitation in 2014 for Dr. Stout to attend a White House summit to share insights from the College's initiatives to help low-income and disadvantaged students attain access and achieve success.
In 2012, College Hall was fully renovated and we put into service the University Center at the West Campus. In 2013, the College was selected to participate in the Gates Foundation's Gateway to College program, designed to help at-risk students complete their high school education and move towards college. We also opened the Culinary Arts Institute, a private/public partnership, which was the first on its kind. Developed by the College without funding from state or county sponsors, the program is thriving today with a café, a soon-to-open bistro and classes that serve both degree-program students and culinary enthusiasts in the community.
The State of Montgomery County Community College is Strong
As we look toward the future, we have every expectation that Montgomery County Community College will continue to be a leader in providing a high-quality, accessible education that empowers individuals and strengthens our region’s economy.
Dr. Stout leaves the College well positioned for the future. The next president will find:
The Middle States decennial review near completion, and the strategic plan to 2016 in its final year of implementation.
- A completed self-study conducted by the administration offering a roadmap for the future based on the College’s strengths.
- Establishment of an early retirement plan allowing the opportunity to build, hire, and train the faculty of the future.
- A completed 10-year facilities plan and a second phase underway with funding secured for renovation of a new Health Sciences Center, an expanded Science Center on the Central Campus, and a growth strategy in place for the West Campus.
- Strategies for enrollment development and student success in place and showing momentum.
In addition, we have initiated a tradition of college-wide fundraising on which to build. Our Futures Rising Campaign, which is on track to exceed its $9 million goal, will provide scholarships long into the future to ensure access to so many.
Montgomery County Community College has been fortunate to have a quality leader, mentor and champion serve as president of this great institution for more than 14 years. We are glad we were able to celebrate the College’s 50th Anniversary together. While we will all miss Karen, we are proud of her accomplishments and grateful for her service, and we wish her much success in the future.
Starting today, your Board of Trustees will begin the process of conducting a nationwide search to obtain a college president who will continue to lead us forward without any loss in momentum. As we face the challenges ahead, we know that with your support, our College will continue to grow and serve our community in the finest tradition, ensuring that our mission to provide the highest quality education with the broadest access possible shall continue – stay tuned!
Michael J. D'Aniello ‘78
Chairman, Board of Trustees