May 22, 2024

Testimony to County Council in support of budget 4/9/13

Good evening,

My name is Rick Penn. I am a professor of mathematics, and represent the faculty of Montgomery College as president of the American Association of University Professors.

The impact that Montgomery College has on our community is hard to overstate. We have more credit students than the University of Maryland College Park has in its undergraduate programs, and we have even more workforce development and continuing education students than we have credit students. A Montgomery County resident with an associate’s degree will have lifetime earnings on average over $600,000 more than a local resident with a high school diploma. These increased earnings in turn help expand the tax base in the County and state. A study has calculated that taxpayer support for community colleges have an effective return on investment of 9.8% between these direct benefits and avoided negative social costs. Other studies have shown the value of community college students to transfer institutions, as these students are often better prepared for the coursework and navigating college life rate than are students admitted as freshman, and may thereby help with the completion agenda.

Were it just for these statistics alone, Montgomery College would be one of the best investments that the County could make in its own future. But these numbers tell only part of the story.

Every year our students distinguish themselves and are recognized in a myriad of ways. This past summer, the MC Solar Spectrograph Team won the Science Observations award in the National Student Solar Spectrograph Competition in Montana. A little closer to home a team of MC students came in 1st place out of 22 teams representing 12 local colleges in a mathematics competition held at PG Community College. The ENACTUS team recently won its seventh regional honor in seven years, competing against 2- and 4- year schools, and will be heading to the national competition next month; this team designs projects to benefit the local and global communities, and makes a timed presentation on the projects in the competition. And just last night, 2 MC alumni received Helen Hayes Awards. This is just a partial list of some of the awards garnered this year, and doesn’t even touch on the wonderful performances, research, and community events to which we are so frequently treated.

Behind all of these student success stories are our amazing faculty who go the extra mile teaching, coaching, and mentoring these students. I’d like to single out two faculty deserving of special recognition. Tammy Peery just received the Chair Academy’s 2013 International Exemplary Leadership Award, and John Hamman was recently named Maryland Professor of the Year. Several other faculty have received prestigious awards in recent years, and we are fortunate to have many others who are quite worthy of such recognition as well.

The Montgomery College faculty are quite aware that it is not Montgomery College alone that has gone through some very tough economic times lately. We appreciate the difficult decisions that the County Executive and you must make in preparing the budget. We are grateful that the County Executive has approved a modest increase in the College’s budget next year to help the College continue to be able to attract and retain the employees who help make these successes happen. We hope that the County Council will approve this budget request as well. Thank you.

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