Dr. James Linksz to Serve as Interim Montgomery County Community College President

Montgomery County Community College’s Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Dr. James J. Linksz has agreed to serve as interim president for Montgomery County Community College.

Dr. Linksz had a successful career at Bucks County Community College, where he served for more than 20 years as the institution’s president from 1992-2012. Following his retirement in 2012, Dr. Linksz briefly served as interim CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.

“It is a tremendous accomplishment that the College was able to secure a former community college president to serve during our nationwide search for a new college president,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Michael J. D’Aniello.

Current President Dr. Karen A. Stout was tapped to serve as the President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc., which works to increase access and improve success at more than 200 member community colleges that serve more than four million community college students nationally.

Board Personnel Committee Chair Richard Montalbano was extremely pleased to secure a highly-respected and experienced community college president from Pennsylvania.

“This will allow the College to advance its goals and mission of increased access and improved student success,” said Montalbano. “We expect Dr. Linksz to be proactive in continuing the goals established by Dr. Stout. He will certainly not be a placeholder.”

Dr. Linksz will spend June in transition with Dr. Stout and will take the helm of MCCC on July 1, 2015.

“Dr. Linksz is an excellent choice. I have a high degree of respect for his work at Bucks. He was a terrific colleague. His understanding of Pennsylvania community colleges is also a significant asset for the College,” said Dr. Stout.

Dr. Linksz earned an A.B. in Art and Architecture from Dartmouth College and a master’s and doctorate in higher and adult education administration from Columbia University. He was also a W.K. Kellogg Doctoral Fellow in Community College Administration.

~  Montgomery County Community College Board of Trustees

‘Innovation of the Year’ Tackles Issue of Textbook Affordability

Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout (left) and Financial Aid Specialist Ashley Smith (right) present Holly Parker, Stowe, financial aid and enrollment generalist, with the 2015 Innovation of the Year award. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout (left) and Financial Aid Specialist Ashley Smith (right) present Holly Parker, Stowe, financial aid and enrollment generalist, with the 2015 Innovation of the Year award. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College’s 10th annual Innovation of the Year award was presented to Holly Parker, of Stowe, financial aid and enrollment generalist, for her work to develop a Student Success Textbook Lending Library at the College’s West Campus in Pottstown.

Seven projects were nominated for the 2015 honor, and all were evaluated against criteria established by the League for Innovation in the Community College—an international organization committed to improving community colleges through innovation. Award criteria include quality, efficiency, cost effectiveness, replication, creativity and timeliness.

Ultimately, a college-wide committee selected the Student Success Textbook Lending Library as the winner because it touches all six of the College’s strategic goals, especially as they relate to student access and success.

Launched in 2012 in response to the rising cost of textbooks, the initiative addresses a very real, very challenging problem faced by community college students.

“We started seeing more and more students, especially those who are out-of-county or who have student loans, struggle to pay for their textbooks. The idea was very grassroots—how can we help a handful of students?” explained Parker.

What began with a few textbooks donated by West Campus faculty has grown into a library of more than 75 titles.

“We partnered with Phi Theta Kappa [honor society] on a campaign to collect books from students. We also offered lunch vouchers in the cafeteria for students who donated their books once they were done with them,” said Parker.

Last year, thanks to an internal grant from MCCC’s Foundation, Parker was able to purchase high-demand textbooks for the library, thereby helping greater numbers of students.

“We’re still building the collection, especially since textbooks go out of date so quickly,” said Parker, who works with individual faculty to determine whether students can continue to use older editions of some textbooks and materials. “The initiative has really helped a lot of students who are financially pressed.”

To date, the Student Success Textbook Lending Library at the West Campus has enabled more than100 students complete their course requirements.

As recipient of the College’s award, the lending library initiative will be forwarded to the League for Innovation in the Community College for national recognition in a program that showcases innovation at America’s community colleges.

Other projects nominated the 2015 Innovation of the Year at MCCC included Academic Affairs Analytics; Winter Session Pilot; Sustainable Waste Solutions Partnership with the Culinary Arts Institute; Green Office Initiative; LED Light Bulb Replacement Initiative; and PHEAA Grant Database Automation. Collectively 34 members of MCCC’s faculty and staff worked on the nominated projects.

~ by Alana J. Mauger

VIDEO: ‘The Buzz Update,’ Week of 4/27/15

Check out “The Buzz Update” for the week of April 27, 2015.  The program is student produced by the Communicating Arts Production Group (CAPG) at Montgomery County Community College.

Culinary Arts Institute Hosted Final Round of Student Iron Chef Competition

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Montgomery County Community College’s Culinary Arts Institute’s students (from left) Can Uslu Sancar and Rolene Perumal won the Iron Chef Competition on April 25 competing against fellow students Paul Solarte and John Bucci. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Although it was a broiling competition, the student chefs of the Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) of Montgomery County Community College cooked up several enticing dishes to impress the panel of esteemed judges and the crowd of visitors during the final round of the Iron Chef Competition held during the CAI’s recent Open House at 1400 Forty Foot Road, Lansdale.

Two teams of two students—Rolene Perumal, 28, of Glenside, and Can Uslu Sancar, 32, of North Wales, versus John Bucci, 25, of North Wales, and Paul Solarte, 22, of Allentown—used the techniques they learned at the CAI to execute three dishes in two hours using mystery ingredients, including Eggo waffles, celery root, red snapper, bacon, game hens, trail mix, corn tortillas, garbanzo beans, lemonhead candies and chai tea bags.

The judges were Executive Chef Tony Clark of Valley Forge Casino Resort, Drexel University’s Professor and Director of Culinary Arts and Food Science Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D., Corporate Chef of Clemens Food Group Matthew Martino, MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Vicki Bastecki-Perez and Dean of Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives/Strategic Advisor Philip Needles. Judging criteria included taste, cooking techniques, texture/doneness, presentation, sanitation, fabrication, knife cuts, creativity and portion sizes.

While the students competed to win, they also gained invaluable skills through the experience.

“I’ve learned a lot since the first round in November, including flavor profiles and how they complement each other,” said Perumal, an international student from South Africa. “Additionally, we learned about the importance of teamwork and communication in the kitchen.”

“This was an amazing opportunity for us,” added Uslu Sancar, an international student from Istanbul, Turkey. “You get to learn about yourself, your strengths and your stress level.”

Perumal and Uslu Sancar won the competition and received an engraved trophy, the opportunity to stage with Chef Clark and kitchen tools. All four students were offered $5,000 Drexel University scholarships.

“This was a great learning experience,” said Bucci, who works as a chef at Bryn and Dane’s in Horsham. “The most challenging part for me was plating—after the food is prepared and cooked, it all comes down to the presentation.”

His partner, Solarte, enjoyed the competitiveness of the event. “It was fun and challenging,” he said.

The judges were pleased with the students’ professionalism and execution.

“I was very impressed,” said Chef Clark. “The two teams had different approaches, but the outcomes were good-tasting dishes. One team [Perumal and Uslu Sancar] worked very carefully, and the other was more avant garde in their approach.”

“I was really impressed with the students—they were professional and organized and willing to answer questions. I am thrilled to have all of them at Drexel,” Chef Deutsch said.

Similarly, Chef Martino was pleased with their execution. “They worked well together and created well-seasoned, flavored dishes. All four have bright culinary careers ahead of them.”

Perumal and Uslu Sancar prepared three courses: chickpea salad with baby arugula and lemonhead vinaigrette, pan fried red snapper served with sautéed fennel and celeriac topped with a compound butter and a pan-seared Cornish game hen with dauphinoise and sautéed shallots and spinach.

Bucci and Solarte’s three courses were: chicken and waffles with bacon and berry crumble, red snapper with lemon sauce and spinach puree with a side of garbanzo beans and chicken enchiladas with onion puree.

“The Iron Chef Competition clearly demonstrated the high-quality of our program and our students,” said Francine Marz, Director of CAI. “The experience prepares students for the industry, their culinary careers and interviews, when they will be expected to use their creativity and skills to prepare dishes with very limited time constraints.”

The competition started with seven teams of two students each on Nov. 23, 2014. Four of those teams advanced to the second round of the competition held on Jan 31. The two winning teams competed on April 25. Each round became more challenging with additional mystery ingredients, fewer pantry ingredients and more requirements. The competition will be an annual event, according to Marz.

For more information about the Culinary Arts Institute and its degree and certificate programs, visit mc3.edu/culinary or call 267-646-5970.

~ by Diane VanDyke

The Adventurous Life of Silent Film Comedienne Wilna Hervey Showcased at Betzwood Film Festival

LL Book coverThroughout her adventurous life as a silent film star and art colony trailblazer, 6’3,” 300-pound Wilna Hervey tackled the world on her own terms. At this year’s Betzwood Film Festival, the woman who brought the Toonerville Trolley’s “Powerful Katrinka” to life on screen will be celebrated with a retrospective look back on her colorful life and the screening of four of her surviving silent comedies. The films will be shown at their original projection speed and accompanied on the theater organ by Don Kinnier.

The evening also will include a book signing reception with silent film historian and Montgomery County Community College emeritus history professor, Joseph P. Eckhardt, author of the newly published biography, Living Large: Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason.

The film festival and book signing are scheduled for Saturday, May 9, at 8 p.m. in the College’s Science Center Theatre, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Tickets cost $15. Tickets are available at the box office the night of the program, or visit mc3.edu/livelyarts or call 215-641-6518 for tickets and more information.

Beginning in 1920, Montgomery County’s own Betzwood motion picture studio turned the popular and nationally syndicated Toonerville Trolley cartoons of Fontaine Fox into live-action, two-reel comedy films. Wilna Hervey captivated audiences with her portrayal of Powerful Katrinka, a hefty, innocent creature oblivious to the extent of her own physical strength. “Only seven of the seventeen Toonerville Trolley comedies have survived…and the Betzwood Film Archive has copies of four,” says festival founder Eckhardt. “These films contain some very funny episodes and wonderful sight gags based on Wilna’s portrayal of Katrinka.”

Hervey may have been the right physical size to portray Katrinka, but it was her larger-than-life roles as a skilled portrait painter, award-winning enamel artist and hostess of some of the Catskills’ wildest parties that made her a legend. She was joined in her life adventures by Nan Mason, the surprisingly tall daughter of Wilna’s Toonerville co-star, Dan Mason, while filming at Betzwood. The two young women became inseparable, and ultimately life companions. When Hervey’s cinema work began to wane, they moved to the famed artists’ haven of Woodstock, N.Y, to pursue their dreams of becoming professional artists.

Living in one of the few American communities where they could comfortably be themselves, Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason, known locally as “the Big Girls,” carved out extraordinarily creative and unconventional lives. An irrepressible enthusiasm permeated all of their endeavors, from trying their hand at farming to raising funds for local causes through their “full moon” soirées attended by some of the era’s top writers, painters and musicians. Their go-for-broke lifestyle and enduring, nontraditional partnership not only inspired their artwork, but Eckhardt’s interest in writing about them.

“The more I learned about Wilna and Nan’s unique approach to life, the more I felt that their story needed to be shared,” says Eckhardt. Advance reviews of Eckhardt’s book, Living Large: Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason, have been favorable, with Robert S. Birchard, film historian and author of Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood, calling it “a consummate example of the biographer’s craft.”

Professor Eckhardt taught both history and art history at Montgomery County Community College from 1968 until his retirement in 2007. His biography of Philadelphia film pioneer, Siegmund Lubin, The King of the Movies, was published in 1997. Eckhardt founded the annual Betzwood Silent Film Festival in 1989 to preserve and showcase the memory of the silent movie industry that once flourished in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

In 2012, he established the Betzwood Film Archive, donating his extensive personal collection of Betzwood photographs, memorabilia, and artifacts to the college’s Brendlinger Library, which already held a collection of surviving Betzwood films. The library subsequently launched a website dedicated to providing online digital access to the entire collection.

“The worldwide level of interest in the Betzwood Archive has been remarkable, and a bit unexpected,” says Eckhardt.

Thus far, the website has attracted nearly 39,000 visits from film fans and scholars alike, representing 109 countries. Eckhardt, who monitors the site on a daily basis and responds to frequent questions and requests for information, reports “it is not unusual to find someone in Nepal or Peru reading about the Betzwood cowboys or a scholar in Paris researching the technology of the Betzwood studio film processing plant. We have also had a number of emails from the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the actors and directors who once made films at Betzwood.”

Some of these descendants of the stars have even come to the annual Betzwood Film Festival from as far away as Texas to see their once-famous ancestors on the silver screen. The Betzwood Film Archive can be visited online at mc3betzwood.wordpress.com.

Follow “Destination Arts” at Montgomery County Community College on Facebook at facebook.com/DestinationArts for information about performing and fine arts events at the College.

~ by Lauren Somers

Montgomery County Community College is Ranked Among Tops in Tech

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Montgomery County Community College is ranked second in the country for its use of technology according to a recent Digital Community Colleges Survey issued by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Education (CDE). The 250 data-point survey analyzes how community colleges use digital technologies to improve services to students, faculty, staff and the community at large.

Montgomery County Community College has ranked in the survey’s top 10 large community colleges since CDE introduced it a decade ago.

“Technology, itself, does not lead to innovation. But combined with vision, creativity and leadership, technology has the power to revolutionize teaching and learning,” said Dr. Celeste Schwartz, vice president for technology and college services.

Under the leadership of Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout, Schwartz and her team of IT professionals empower faculty and staff to use technology to inform decision making, to improve access and completion, and to provide students with state-of-the-art real-world learning experiences.

Over the past year, the College has implemented technology tools in several key student success areas—advising and student planning, financial literacy and mobile access—and has introduced academic certificate programs in key STEM disciplines like cloud computing, cyber security, and biotechnology.

To improve student entry and advising processes, the College launched a Student Success Network pilot, which includes student academic planner, early alert, and a student facing success dashboard, through which students are able to see and connect with members of their student success team—advisors, faculty and staff from other support programs, like veterans’ resources and disability services. Faculty can refer students to tutoring and can address concerns and reinforce positive academic behaviors throughout the semester.

The redesigned process also includes an education planning tool that empowers students to map out their entire academic program progression and improves meaningful interaction between students and advisors. Analytical tools, including student and advisor dashboards, round out the Student Success Network.

Financial literacy is critical to student completion, and MCCC developed and launched a “Montco Money Matters” prototype through support from EDUCAUSE’s Next Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC) Breakthrough Models Incubator (BMI). The open-source, online tool introduces first-time students to concepts of financial aid, loans and grants; highlights the long-term implications of loans and future debt; and makes them aware of other resources, like scholarships, to help pay for college.

Montgomery is currently building on the success of it financial literacy prototype to include digital and civic literacy, which, like Montco Money Matters, will be publically accessible through Blackboard CourseSites and will engage students through video, social media and other interactive tools.

“The ‘new literacy’ programs, at their heart, focus on building the skills that students will need to be successful at all levels of their education and career, especially as they transition from high school to college,” said Schwartz, who is a key member of the design team along with faculty and staff from across the institution.

Much of the College’s technology is being developed with a “mobile-first” approach—necessary given that 86 percent of its students use smartphones. This year, the College launched a new mobile app in partnership with Ellucian Go! Montgomery also continues to build access through its Virtual Campus, which affords e-learners the opportunity to have a more robust college experience.

Having access to the latest technology, state-of-the-art learning spaces and instructional design experts empowers the College’s faculty to develop and refine curricula that prepares students for a competitive and ever-changing marketplace. Over the past year, Montgomery introduced new high-tech certificate programs in the emerging fields of cloud computing, cyber security and biotechnology/biomanufacturing, along with associate’s degrees in life sciences, sound recording and music technology, and environmental studies.

Montgomery also bolstered existing programs in engineering technology, health services management, criminal justice, health and fitness professional, management, culinary arts and education—all of which integrate the latest technology to ensure graduates are prepared for the demands of 21st century workforce.

All accredited U.S. community colleges are eligible to participate in CDC’s survey within three classifications based on enrollment. Montgomery County Community College, with more than 24,000 students annually, competes in the large college category. To learn more about the survey, visit centerdigitaled.com.

– Alana J. Mauger

‘Food for Thought’ — Culinary Arts Institute Top Chef Hosts Radio Show

Chef Francine Marz. Photo by Lynn Likens

Chef Francine Marz. Photo by Lynn Likens

The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College’s Director Chef Francine Marz recently added another item to her menu of skills: radio show host.

Starting March 2, Chef Marz took to the airwaves of the College’s student-operated Internet radio station, Montco Radio, with her new interactive show, “Food for Thought.” On alternating Mondays between 5 to 6 p.m. you can check in and hear Chef Marz talk about all things food, from how to make a tasty dinner with five ingredients to what it takes to become a sous chef and more.

Since the show is interactive, anyone can call or message during the broadcast to ask questions or make comments. Call 215-619-7366, tweet questions or comments to @CAIofMC3 or message on Facebook at CAIofMC3.

To listen to the show on Montco Radio, visit the College’s website, mc3.edu, and click on the microphone icon at the bottom of the homepage screen or visit montcoradio.com. Or, simply download the Tune-In app on your mobile devices or search “Montco Radio” in Google Play for the new Android app.

For more information about the Culinary Arts Institute at Montgomery County Community College, visit mc3.edu/culinary or call 267-646-5970. The Culinary Arts program includes both associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit culinary enthusiast and professional development course offerings. The 15,000-square-foot facility at 1400 Forty Foot Road, Lansdale, in Towamencin Township, is conveniently located near the Blue Route (I-476) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The facility features four state-of-the-art kitchens and equipment, three SMART classrooms, a retail bakery café and a bistro restaurant.

Facebook: facebook.com/CAIofMC3
Twitter: twitter.com/CAIofMC3
Blog: whatscookingatcai.wordpress.com

~ by Diane VanDyke