September 25, 1999
Contact: Steve Simon, 240-567-5385

Montgomery College Hosts Major Community Conference on Education Challenges of the 21st Century
Conference Will Help Chart College’s Course in New Millennium

(ROCKVILLE, MD) -- What will businesses want their employees to know in the 21st century? How should Montgomery College prepare students to be more competitive in a rapidly changing technological age? What is the College’s role in preparing under-prepared high school graduates? How can the College prepare students to be change-agents in our community? How will adult student needs affect the College’s programs, delivery style of courses, and location of classes?

These were among the many questions addressed by business and community leaders, elected officials, and MC educators, students and staff when the College’s Council for the 21st Century today hosted a major education conference at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center, located on the College’s Rockville Campus.

The conference, keynoted by Dr. Willard R. Daggett, one the nation’s leading education futurists, was designed to assess the education challenges that will likely face Montgomery College and its community in the years ahead.

The Council for the 21st Century is a community-based advisory body launched by Dr. Charlene R. Nunley when she was inaugurated last April as the College’s new president. “Today, education is far different from when I was a student,” said Nunley. “Students are increasingly attending more than one college simultaneously. Increasing numbers of students are pursuing college for technical certification and credentials, rather than for the traditional academic degrees. And, lifelong learning will be a central part of their lives. We need to actively involve all of our stakeholders in the process of shaping the future of education in Montgomery County. Today’s conference is a great first step in that process for Montgomery College.”

Since April, the College has hosted a series of topical discussions on the future of higher education. Those discussions have been led by nationally respected educators, including Dr. Clifford Adelman, senior research analyst in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, and Dr. Harold Hodgkinson, a noted demographic and educational analyst, author, and lecturer.

Daggett, a respected futurist on educational issues and the founder of the International Center for Leadership in Education, focused attention on the evolution of the American education system, and the impact of cutting-edge technology and the information-based society on traditional modes of teaching and learning. His presentation identified three major trends that fundamentally changed the American workplace: the virtual elimination of unskilled workers; the transition of employment from large to small companies; and the use of communication technologies to move work to workers worldwide.

Daggett described these changes, the fundamental shift in the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that workers will need to function in this new workplace, and how these shifts require educators to rethink what is being taught in our schools.

Following the opening presentations, community and business leaders – with Montgomery College faculty and staff -- participated in several task forces charged with tackling specific areas of the College’s educational and service missions. Task forces included: Learning as a Lifelong Process; Engaging Employers in the College’s Mission; the College as an Intellectual, Social, and Cultural Force; and Defining the Evolving Role of the College in the Midst of Change.

Through its task forces, the Council for the 21st Century -- as charged by Nunley -- will help shape the vision and agenda for Montgomery College as it enters the next century. Comprised of business leaders, community representatives and College faculty and staff, the Council is chaired by educational consultant Dr. Robert Shoenberg, chair of the Montgomery College Board of Trustees, and Mr. Solomon Graham, member of the Montgomery College Foundation, Inc. and president of Quality Biological, Inc.