The 2018 EDUCAUSE Leadership Award recognizes Celeste M. Schwartz, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Digital Officer at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), for dedicating her wide-ranging leadership to the profession of higher education information technology, for enabling the efficient and effective use of technology in support of student success, and for serving as a role model to women and other aspiring technologists in the profession.
EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association that helps higher education elevate the impact of information technology. The annual Leadership Award is EDUCAUSE’s highest recognition for individual achievement. This award acknowledges and celebrates exemplary leadership that has a significant and positive impact on advancing the theory and practice of information technology in higher education.
From the time she stepped onto the MCCC campus in 1968 to begin her own educational journey as a computer science student, Celeste has felt a deep connection with the place she would serve for decades to come. She is regarded as an exceptional leader whose commitment to and passion for service is both unmatched and contagious.
Celeste has a reputation as a visionary who has continuously advocated for quality improvements through the adoption of innovative technology solutions. Through its integration of several enterprise systems, MCCC was one of the first community colleges to offer a completely integrated one-stop-service experience for students, thus becoming a model for other community colleges across the United States.
Celeste provided strategic thinking and leadership on several MCCC initiatives that profoundly influenced and improved the teaching and learning experience at the college. In the mid-1990s she collaborated with faculty to define classroom standards that continue to evolve and ensure that learning spaces have modern and effective technology. A decade later, she worked with Apple on the Digital Campus Academy program to deliver widespread course content via the Apple platform. Celeste's productive partnerships with technology providers and her participation in client advisory communities has allowed MCCC to contribute to the development and functionality of many commercial products and has provided valuable insight for vendors from a community college perspective.
High performance and exceptional dedication to the students and her community are the hallmarks of Celeste's career and the attributes she cultivates in those who work on her team. Over one-third of the IT team members on her staff are MCCC graduates, many of whom began as interns in Celeste's department. As a result of Celeste's organizational skills and leadership, the MCCC IT team has a first-rate reputation and has been recognized by the Center for Digital Education as a top digital community college eleven times, ranking three times as first in the nation. Celeste's personal approach to coaching others has extended well beyond the campus, as she generously mentors other aspiring technology leaders through her connections in EDUCAUSE and other professional networks.
Celeste has been active in the EDUCAUSE community since 1997 (and CAUSE prior to that). She was a member of the ELI Advisory Board and several event program committees (serving as chair of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference Program Committee in 2008) and was a mentor for the Hawkins Leadership Roundtable, among many other volunteer assignments. In twenty years of activity with EDUCAUSE, she has presented as a subject-matter expert on a variety of topics, including analytics and the use of technology to support student success, IT governance, and community colleges.
Beyond EDUCAUSE, she has co-chaired the IT Affinity Group, a leadership and technical resource for the CIOs of the Pennsylvania community colleges. She is active in KINBER, the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research. Additionally, she is MCCC’s liaison to Achieving the Dream, an EDUCAUSE partner and nonprofit organization that advances the success of community college students.
Celeste Schwartz has dedicated her life's work to the advancement of innovative technology solutions that provide a bridge to student success. She is a tireless worker, empowering leader, and valued resource to all with whom she works, both locally and across the nation, and it is fitting to recognize her significant contributions to the profession with the EDUCAUSE Leadership Award.
The EDUCAUSE Leadership Award recipient receives a $1,500 contribution to the fund of their choice. A contribution in Celeste's name will be made to the Fred and Rocky Barbone Scholarship at the Montgomery County Community College Foundation.
This EDUCAUSE Award is sponsored by Moran Technology Consulting, Gold Partner.