Montgomery County Community College celebrates 60th anniversary

By Eric Devlin
Dr. Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez, Montgomery County Community College President, stands with students on the steps of College Hall on Blue Bell Campus. MCCC is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Photo by Talia McLeod.

Dr. Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez, Montgomery County Community College President, stands with students on the steps of College Hall on Blue Bell Campus. MCCC is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Photo by Talia McLeod.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), kicking-off a year-long celebration of the College’s 60 years of transforming lives and communities in Montgomery County.  

“This is a celebration,” said Dr. Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez, MCCC President. “It’s a celebration of the 90,000 alumni over the last six decades whose lives have been transformed from their time at the College. Montco continues to change lives to this day. The College brings economic, social and cultural value to the communities it serves and is a key resource in the county and region for educational, workforce and cultural opportunities for all individuals of all ages and stages of life.”

To commemorate the diamond jubilee, MCCC students, employees and alumni will be encouraged to volunteer in their communities for 60 minutes each month this year. Participants will share their good work with the MCCC community by submitting a photo through the 60th anniversary’s landing page.

Dr. Celeste Schwartz with Brian BrendlingerAlso, each month in 2024, MCCC’s “Montco on the Move” podcast will celebrate the 60th anniversary by interviewing past and present members of the Montco Family who have been an integral part of some of the College’s milestones over the last 60 years. Guests include members of MCCC’s inaugural graduating class of 1968, Dan and Marie McCartney; Dr. Celeste Schwartz, Vice President of Pottstown Campus, IT and Institutional Effectiveness, an alumna who has worked at MCCC for more than five decades; and Brian Brendlinger, a former employee and the son of founding President LeRoy Brendlinger, Ed.D. 

Lastly, in the fall, MCCC will host an official 60th birthday celebration concluding a year of activities.

Meeting the needs of the community

Established Dec. 8, 1964, with the appointment of the first Board of Trustees, MCCC has grown and evolved over the last six decades to become an academic and community hub that meets the needs of students and residents in Montgomery County. From its early days at the former Conshohocken High School at the corner of 7th and Fayette streets in Conshohocken, now MCCC offers more than 100 flexible associate degree and certificate programs and a customized workforce training and certifications from its campuses in Blue Bell, which opened in 1972 at 340 DeKalb Pike, and Pottstown, which opened in 1996 at 101 College Drive, and online.  

Challenger Learning CenterMCCC is in the midst of an exciting and ongoing period of transformation and growth. The College has undergone a series of construction projects in recent years under Dr. Bastecki-Perez’s leadership. Starting in 2022, the Pottstown Campus saw the opening of the Challenger Learning Center at Montco Pottstown, the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, inspiring a love for STEM and exploration of the cosmos among learners in grades 5-8.

Wellness Center ribbon cutting in North HallThen in December 2022, the MCCC unveiled the innovative Wellness Center inside its North Hall building at Pottstown Campus– a centralized tiered system of wellness resources to help students with the vital essentials they need to succeed, including access to mental health resources, an on-campus food pantry and other programming.

South Hall Science on a SphereShortly after, in April 2023, the newly renovated South Hall at Pottstown Campus reopened its doors. The first floor of the building was reimagined to support students comprehensively by bringing student services together in one area and providing flexible spaces for study, collaboration and engagement, enabling students to succeed academically and personally.

In addition, the College’s Hanover Street building is undergoing renovations, thanks to a recent award of $1.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funding through the support of state Rep. Joe Ciresi, for the Pottstown Children’s Discovery Center, one of the College’s newest community partners.

Also, in October 2023, MCCC started the transformation of the North Hall parking lot into a green space for students and the community. The approximate one-acre lot will include grass-covered space with a new retaining wall, site lighting and drainage along the Manatawny Creek. Students will be able to gather informally or as part of an outdoor classroom, and community members can gather for events or to relax by the creek. The new space will add to the recreational areas located nearby, including Pottstown Riverfront Park, the Schuylkill River Trail and Memorial Park.

Montco Cultural Center theaterAt Blue Bell Campus, MCCC finished the reopening of the Science Center in September 2023. It includes the state-of-the-art 563-seat theater, the centerpiece of the Montco Cultural Center, which encompasses all of MCCC’s arts and culture programming. The Science Center also includes hands-on access to the latest science and engineering technology, including robotic arms and 3D printers. The building’s inclusion of the arts with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, truly makes it a STEAM center.

Science Center robotics labComing soon to the Blue Bell Campus is the Hospitality Institute, which is scheduled to open in fall 2024. The 20,400-square-foot, experiential learning center transforms the former campus bookstore into an innovative facility. It will feature new and expanded programs that will prepare students for high-demand occupations in the growing hospitality and restaurant industries.

The Hospitality Institute will feature a student-run educational restaurant that will serve both the campus and the community. In addition to the restaurant, the building will include a pastry and bakery retail shop featuring the students’ creations, pasta and chocolate laboratories. Together with the restaurant, these spaces will serve as real live-learning experiences for students to study different aspects of operating a culinary business.

Value for all

Outside of the development projects at the College, MCCC plays a critical role as an engine of economic growth in Montgomery County and the region. On a countywide and regional basis, for every $1 invested in MCCC, students gain $4.70 in lifetime earnings, an average rate of return of 18.7 percent. Taxpayers gain $2.30 in added tax revenue and public sector savings, an average rate of return of 5.5 percent. Society gains $9.30 in added income and social savings. Furthermore, MCCC benefits the region by adding $817.1 million in total income in 2021-22, supporting 9,139 total jobs, according to an economic impact study by Lightcast (formerly Emsi and Burning Glass Technologies) for MCCC.

In addition, MCCC has strengthened and fostered its commitment to equity, diversity and belonging, establishing it as an institution where everyone is welcomed. To help make college affordable, especially for first-generation students like herself, Dr. Bastecki-Perez helped launch 11 Presidential Scholarships for students following her inauguration in 2020.

As an Achieving the Dream Leader College of Distinction, MCCC is positioned at the vanguard of national efforts to remove barriers to access, improve learning outcomes, and increase completion for all students.

MCCC also has been designated for seven years as one of the Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges in the nation by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development for its commitment to diversity.  

Further, MCCC was recognized as a “Voter Friendly Campus” by Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, and was designated a Hunger-Free Campus by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for its work in combating food insecurity on its campuses.

To learn more about the 60th anniversary celebration, visit the landing page.