The Montgomery College Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Charlene Mickens Dukes interim president of Montgomery College, effective August 7, 2021. This follows Board Chair Michael Knapp’s April 29 announcement that current Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard will step down this summer to assume the presidency at Nevada State College, a four-year school just outside Las Vegas. Led by Mr. Knapp, the board will conduct a search for a new president.
Dr. Pollard is leaving after leading the institution for more than a decade. Knapp, who has mixed emotions about her departure, spoke about Dr. Pollard’s tenure—and what the future holds for MC.
“Dr. Pollard’s leadership has produced some extraordinary changes in our shared notions of inclusion, access, and quality,” he said. “While she will be greatly missed, the Board of Trustees is certain that this move will allow her to contribute in new ways to higher education and that Nevada State College will benefit from her vision.”
Knapp added, “She breathed new life into the College at a time when Montgomery County was beginning to better understand and appreciate its breadth of diversity. “She wanted everyone—including those who come from one of the many countries around the world—to understand and appreciate that they were welcome at Montgomery College. She created that environment in an intentional way.”
No matter what element she was addressing, it was the College, the community, the broader community. She wanted people to know she was MC—and MC was her.
According to Knapp, Dr. Pollard also understood that the institution needed to change, both internally—and in context with the broader community, working to create a “one College” approach predicated on a set of core values and operational structure.
“Whether at the Chamber of Commerce or at The Universities at Shady Grove, she made sure that the College was an integral piece of the puzzle,” he said. He noted that even in her outside activities, she helped extend the College’s mission, vision, and values. “She served as board chair for Generation HOPE, helping provide structure for single parents going back to College. She always wanted people to understand how the College fit into the broader community.”
Reflecting on Dr. Pollard’s tenure, Knapp said that in a relatively short amount of time, she was persistent in taking this welcoming perspective and creating it at the College. “No matter what element she was addressing, it was the College, the community, the broader community. She wanted people to know she was MC—and MC was her.”
Now that the Board of Trustees announced Dr. Charlene Mickens Dukes as interim, the next step is to select a search firm.
“We hope to have a search firm identified by the end of the month. Once we have done that, we will work to lay out the timeline for selection of the search committee and the actual undertaking of the search process,” Knapp said. “In a perfect world, we are hopeful that we will be able to do this in six months, but we also recognize we are trying to find the person who will lead Montgomery College for the next 10 years. This person will need to guide us through a very dynamic period in higher education. They need to recognize they can be a catalyst for the county from an economic perspective. That search may take more than six months—it could take up to a year. We don’t want to rush this process.”
Montgomery College hosted a virtual reception for Dr. DeRionne Pollard who has served our community with dignity and, yes, audacity for the past 11 years. Her contributions to students, to academia, to Montgomery County, and to society are numerous and profound.
As she prepares to move to a new chapter of her life as president of Nevada State College, we reflect on and commit to build upon her legacy.