The Carnegie Corporation of New York today named Dr. DeRionne Pollard, president of Montgomery College and Germantown resident, as recipients of its Academic Leadership Award. The honor consists of $500,000 in support for each winner’s academic initiatives. Six other college or university presidents were also named recipients of the award.
“I am deeply honored to have been selected for this extraordinary award from the Carnegie Corporation,” Pollard said. “Their tradition of investing in higher education is one that benefits not just current students, but wider communities, and our democracy as a whole.”
Dr. Pollard has earmarked the Carnegie award funds to two landmark programs: The aforementioned coaching program at the College, Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES), and the Montgomery College Foundation’s Innovation Fund.
ACES was created as a partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools and the Universities at Shady Grove. The program, highlighted by the coaches’ mentoring and guidance of each student, provides academic and personal support to a diverse body of low income, first generation college students. Currently, 65 ACES students are enrolled at four-year colleges and 60 more are enrolled at USG. This semester, 977 are enrolled at Montgomery College and more than 1,500 ACES students attend 13 MCPS high schools, preparing to go to college.
Created by Dr. Pollard and made possible through the generosity of the Webber Family Foundation, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and private donations, the Montgomery College Foundation’s Innovation Fund provides funding for cutting-edge projects at the College that will have sustainable impact on helping students succeed in meeting their educational goals. Examples of past projects include the Collegewide Calculator Loan Program and a mentoring program called “Boys to Men” that uses relationship-building with successful role models.
Graphing calculators are a required tool for the majority of math courses at Montgomery College. They are, however, financially beyond the means of many students. The learning centers that support mathematics on all three campuses are building a program to lend calculators to students who need them across the College. An Innovation Grant provided a needed jump in inventory at two Montgomery College campuses, providing $8,000 for 70 calculators.
“Boys to Men” students work one-on-one with volunteer mentors — African American faculty, staff and external volunteers — who encourage self-esteem, academic growth and social empowerment. This project started with a $5,000 Innovation Grant and was so successful, the program continued with a grant from the Acacia Foundation. Students in the program had higher GPAs, and higher graduation/transfer rates than African-American men in the general college population.
“I believe that these investments will create more equitable educational outcomes for our diverse students, while strengthening our faculty’s capacities for impactful pedagogy” Dr. Pollard said.
The Carnegie award recognizes educators who, in addition to fulfilling their administrative and managerial roles with dedication and creativity, demonstrate vision and an outstanding commitment to excellence in undergraduate education, the liberal arts, equal opportunity, the development of major interdisciplinary programs, international engagement, and the promotion of strong ties between their institutions and their local communities.
Including Dr. Pollard, the 2017 honorees are: Joseph E. Aoun: President, Northeastern University; Boston; Mark P. Becker: President, Georgia State University; Atlanta; John J. DeGioia: President, Georgetown University; Washington, D.C.; Nariman Farvardin: President, Stevens Institute of Technology; Hoboken, NJ; Maria Klawe: President, Harvey Mudd College; Claremont, CA; and Barbara R. Snyder: President, Case Western Reserve University; Cleveland.
In 2010, Dr. Pollard began serving as president of Montgomery College, a community college in Montgomery County that serves 56,000 students annually. She encouraged the construction of an ambitious strategic plan, which focused on student retention and completion. The three-year combined graduation and transfer rate has increased by six percentage points in the past year. Dr. Pollard also started an innovative coaching program to provide disadvantaged high school students with a pathway to obtaining a college degree.
“There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, which play a fundamental role in educating the next generation of our workforce, leaders, and citizens. Our higher education institutions are central to the future of our nation,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. “Andrew Carnegie believed in the importance of strong, dedicated, and effective higher education leaders. As custodians of Mr. Carnegie’s legacy, it is our honor to salute a new class of exemplary leaders, who join with another 20 past award recipients in representing some of the best of the American academy.”
File photo by Germantown Pulse.