Montgomery College Announces Plans to Launch 55,000 Square-Foot Education Center in East Montgomery County

by Patrick Herron

Per Montgomery College:
Montgomery College (MC) President Jermaine F. Williams, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, County Council President Gabe Albornoz, together with state and community leaders announced this morning a planned Fall 2023 opening of the College’s East County Education Center (ECEC). The 55,193-square-foot space will feature classrooms, training labs, and student advising space, while offering both credit and non-credit courses. The new center is the first step in MC’s expansion into East County and expects to serve more than 1,000 students in the first year.

“Montgomery College has had a presence in the East County since 2015, when we established a community engagement center inside the East County Regional Service Center on Briggs Chaney Road,” said MC President Williams. “[Since 2015] the College has served thousands of people seeking training and job skills. These individuals have been empowered to take advantage of classes and learning opportunities –many of them free, such as English classes and computer trainings—that have improved their earning potential. Now it’s time to expand those opportunities and we can do so with the help of everyone here today.”

Montgomery College currently has three campuses (Germantown, Rockville, Takoma Park/Silver Spring) and two training centers in Gaithersburg and Wheaton. The ECEC will be the largest of the College’s three centers and nearly four times larger than the Gaithersburg site.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said that soon after becoming County Executive, he asked Montgomery College to look into the possibility of opening a campus in the East County, which has a high minority population, as part of his racial equity efforts.

“Their feasibility study concluded that this could be done, and today we are seeing the fruits of this joint effort with the announcement of a 55,000 square foot academic building,” Elrich said. “I appreciate the support of the County Council in recognizing the importance of this deferred dream. Starting with a blank canvas at this site provides opportunity for programs that focus on the needs of our county’s emerging industries – life sciences, IT and hospitality. This campus will provide enable high school students in the east county to access Montgomery College’s programs as students elsewhere in the county have been able to access MC’s other campuses. Along with our recent progress of moving economic development forward in the East County, this addition is great for residents in the East County and for the county as a whole.”

“The Montgomery College Educational Center is an important marker in the county and state investment in East County,” said Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins (District 20). “This partnership and commitment ensures access for the bright and talented residents in this area and throughout Montgomery County. I’m proud of the state partnership and investment to help make this happen.”

The credit and noncredit classes offered at the ECEC are in fields of interest to prospective students and community members, targeting skill gaps in key industry sectors such as healthcare and IT.

“Matching employers with the talent and training they need to expand their impact on the region is a long-term investment in place and in community,” said Dr. Frieda Lacey, first vice-chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. “Residents live and work in their home communities when they trust that they can advance there. There are employers right in this neighborhood with job openings in informational technology, healthcare, hospitality and more.”

Nneka Ndubisi, a second-generation Nigerian-American, and a second semester nursing student at Montgomery College, talked about the ways an increased presence in East County will benefit MC students.

“As a Nursing student, we receive hands-on training and education in clinicals at local area hospitals and medical centers,” Ndubisi said. “Adventist Health Care in White Oak is just down the street – so I can say with confidence that the ease for future students, who will be able to transition from classroom to clinical setting, will have a very positive impact on their studies.”

Programmatic highlights and services include small business/entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, allied healthcare, early childhood education and English for speakers of other languages (ESL).

“This is yet another prime example of MC making sure that our entire region is pointed toward success,” said Gabe Albornoz, Montgomery County Council president. “Montgomery County succeeds when Montgomery College succeeds. The road to get us here has been important. The disciplines that have been chosen to be here, small business administration, cybersecurity, healthcare, early childhood education, IT… what a perfect complement of disciplines. They can all lead to jobs upon graduation, and they are all needed. It makes economic sense.”

The ECEC will also host courses in General Education (credit courses) and house a Raptor Central office, MC’s student support services “one-stop shop” for admissions and enrollment.

“By nurturing a pervasive college-going culture throughout Montgomery County, we can open doors to opportunity, increase achievement, and enhance the economic mobility of everyone,” Dr. Williams said. “That means progress for our students. That’s progress for our businesses, our public school system, and our neighborhoods. This is the type of progress that leads to transformation.”

Other leaders, from both the public and private sectors, delivered remarks at the event including:

  • Craig Rice, Chair of the County Council’s Education and Culture Committee
  • Nancy Navarro, Chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee
  • Andrew Friedson, Montgomery County Councilmember
  • Will Jawando, Lead for Libraries on the Education and Culture Committee
  • Dr. Afie Mirshah-Nayar, Principal, Paint Branch High School
  • Dr. Anthony Stahl, President, Adventist Health Care White Oak Medical Center
  • Peter Myo Khin, Chair of East County Citizens Advisory Board
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