PA Department of Education Deputy Secretary visits Montgomery County Community College

Pennsylvania Department of Education Deputy Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega and PDE Higher Education Specialist Mike Dotts visited Montgomery County Community College on Nov. 15 to learn more about MCCC’s programs and student-centric approach and tour the campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown.

“We are fostering a sense of belonging this year with a focus that all students will feel welcomed and that everyone has a voice and every voice is heard,” said Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, MCCC’s Interim President. “We provide holistic student support and a rigorous, dynamic portfolio of programs to prepare students to succeed in their careers and with their personal goals.”

Pennsylvania Department of Education Deputy Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega and PDE Higher Education Specialist Mike Dotts recently visited Montgomery County Community College on Nov. 18. From left: Mike Bettinger, Director of Government Affairs and External Relations; Dr. Gloria Oikelome, Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs; Holly Ann Clayton, Executive Director of Marketing & Communications; Dr. Celeste Schwartz, Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Digital Officer; Deputy Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega; Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, Interim President; Education Specialist Mike Dotts; Jay Browning, Vice President for Advancement; Dr. Michelle Brown, Executive Director of Enrollment Management; Phil Needles, Vice President of Student Services; Charles Somers, Vice President of Finance and Administration; and Therol Dix, J.D., Vice President of West Campus (not pictured).

MCCC works closely with its K-12, community and business partners when updating and developing its curricula to ensure it is relevant and will enable students to obtain jobs with family-sustainable income, said Dr. Bastecki-Perez.

MCCC’s leadership team provided examples of MCCC’s proactive approach to updating programs and providing guidance and support during students’ entire educational experience.

This year, MCCC piloted some changes in its math offerings aimed at moving more students beyond remedial courses into credit courses, explained Dr. Gloria Oikelome, MCCC’s Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Engineering Professor William Brownlowe (far right) gives a tour of the new engineering classrooms and equipment, including robotic arms.

“Math is challenging for many students and for those who aspire to go into STEM majors and careers, this can often be a barrier to their progression,” she said, crediting MCCC’s faculty who are committed to evaluating programs and curriculum and identifying approaches to enhance student success.

Furthermore, MCCC has added 24/7 online tutoring in addition to in-person tutoring. For the third consecutive year, tuition has remained the same level.

As Deputy Secretary Ortega and Dotts saw during their tour of Central Campus in Blue Bell, MCCC has been intentional with its building renovations to create flexible, hands-on learning environments. The newly renovated engineering and science labs easily can be reconfigured to adapt to different program needs, allowing students the opportunity to work on projects such as designing and building a hydrogen fuel-powered car.

Sound Recording Technology Program Director David Ivory (far left) and Music Assistant Professor Michael Kelly (far right) talk about the SRT Master Classes and the hands-on learning opportunities for students in the new recording studio.

In MCCC’s state-of-the art recording studio, students have the opportunity to work with music industry professionals who use the studio space to record or who visit to share their experiences as part of the Sound Recording and Music Technology Program’s Master Class series.

For West Campus in Pottstown, MCCC currently is exploring options to improve the campus and overall student experience after receiving two major awards. The first is in the amount of $2.1 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, matching MCCC’s $2.1 million planned investment for renovations to South Hall, and the second from the U.S. Department of Education is a $1.9 million Title III grant to be used over five years to advance efforts to support student success and academic initiatives. MCCC’s new Vice President of West Campus, Therol Dix, is working closely with community partners to integrate the MCCC’s renovation plans with the borough’s future revitalization plans.