Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) celebrated the opening of its new University Center recently, expanding its West Campus to the “former AAA East Penn building” at 95 South Hanover St., and building on its vision to create a thriving urban campus in downtown Pottstown.
First introduced in 2006, MCCC’s University Center offers an entrepreneurial approach to expanding higher education opportunities for residents of the Tri-County region. Through partnerships with four-year institutions — Albright College, Chestnut Hill College, Temple University and Villanova University — students can choose from eight bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees and one graduate certificate.
During the event, MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout addressed the importance of expanding access to higher education opportunities for the region.
“Before we introduced the innovative University Center model, our graduates had to travel to the greater Reading and Philadelphia areas to continue their education in baccalaureate and graduate degree programs. However, for many of our students and community members in the Tri-County region, this commute simply isn’t possible,” she said. “Therefore, the University Center becomes more than a place where our partner institutions lease space to teach their classes on our campus. It becomes part of a much larger pipeline in terms of building student access to higher education.”
Charles Roberts, alumnus of both MCCC and Albright College, shared his personal educational journey through the University Center.
“I cannot begin to tell you where I would be without having the University Center. I was able to attend class as a working adult and as someone who could not attend class the traditional college way. I may never have attempted a bachelor’s program unless the University Center existed,” said Roberts, who has since earned a master’s degree from Gwynedd-Mercy College and who works in MCCC’s Enrollment Services department.
Lex O. McMillan III, president of Albright College in Reading spoke about the longstanding relationship with MCCC, describing it as a “thriving, healthy partnership.”
“Montgomery County Community College has the largest onsite degree completion programs of our satellite campuses,” he told the roomful of attendees. “In the 2011–12 year, 6,135 credits were transferred from MCCC, and 130 Albright students are enrolled in the degree completion program [at the University Center].”
The University Center project is made possible through a public-private partnership and lease agreement with Vesper Property Group, the building’s owner and developer.
The new 10,500 square foot facility includes six classrooms with smart and videoconference technology, a student lounge and reception area. The entire facility is secured through electronic card access, and a front desk concierge is available to greet students and answer questions.
In addition to creating a new home and identity for the University Center, the new facility frees up existing classroom space at MCCC’s North and South halls — space that is greatly needed to accommodate an unprecedented 60 percent enrollment growth at the West Campus over the past five years.