‘Community-Building’ A Focus of New College VP
POTTSTOWN PA – She’s been a familiar face at Montgomery County Community College since 2018, and she is now being welcomed to Pottstown. But during almost a month here in a new position, that of vice president at the college’s West Campus, Therol Dix says she is regularly asked two similar questions: “What’s the new vision? What’s the new plan?”
To which, she replied Wednesday night (Oct. 16, 2019), it’s “not so much the what, but how.”
Dix, the featured speaker during a Pottstown Rotary Club meeting at the campus’ North Hall (at top), acknowledged those questions are natural. People are prone to expect a change in leadership will also be accompanied by a change in direction, she noted.
Throughout a “listening tour” around town since her appointment was announced in mid-September, though, Dix said she has heard from students, employees, residents, and business owners about the college’s need to continue “engaging the community.” How that gets accomplished – specifically what she hopes to do and instill to achieve the goal – is becoming an immediate focus, she indicated.
It starts, she said, by recognizing the Pottstown campus, its users, and occupants are “very different” than those at the central campus in Blue Bell, or the MCCC culinary arts institute in Lansdale. Some here face adversities less visible elsewhere: reduced incomes, food and housing insecurities, balancing studies with work obligations, tending to families and children while attending classes.
“It’s difficult to study when you need something to eat, or a place to sleep,” Dix said.
Among the West campus’ greatest assets, she added, are partnerships already developed with local groups and organizations. Dix cited her Rotary Club guests, and the college scholarships they annually provide, as a prime example. She’s looking to build more such connections as part of “the how,” the vice president said.
“We need you to partner with us,” she said broadly to Pottstown area constituencies, “to help develop a sense of community, a sense of belonging” for the college “and grow it in others.”
The campus has received new funding help as a head start in its efforts. The state Department of Education last month announced it would pay $2.9 million of the roughly $4.22 million cost to renovate the first floor of the 23-year-old South Hall. The college will cover the rest.
The grant “is generating a lot of excitement,” Dix said, about how the utilitarian hall can become a more inviting and welcoming space. The renovation could be completed sometime next year.
The college also recently won a federal Title III grant of $1.9 million over five years to enhance student success programs targeting students at risk, and first-generation students.
Top photo by The Post Publications, Dix photo from MCCC