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Montgomery College’s Dr. Stephen D. Cain Awarded 2018-19 Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence
College’s Chief of Staff/Chief Strategy Officer One of Only 40 Leaders Nationwide to Be Selected

Dr. Stephen D. Cain of Montgomery College has been awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a leadership program aimed at preparing the next generation of community college presidents.

The fellowship is awarded by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. that aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes.

Dr. Cain currently serves as the Montgomery College president’s chief of staff/chief strategy officer, a role he has filled since 2011. With extensive experience at almost every level of the College, he has worked at the College for nearly 30 years, including roles in teaching, administration, and numerous leadership positions. Beginning July 1, 2018, he will serve as Acting President of Montgomery College, while participating in ten months of training with Aspen.

“Competition for the Aspen Institute’s Presidential Fellowship program is very steep. Dr. Cain’s selection by the Institute speaks to his extraordinary accomplishments and the depth of leadership experience in community colleges,” Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard said. “I am very pleased that Dr. Cain has been given this opportunity to expand his network and leadership capacities, while also serving as MC’s Acting President during my sabbatical.”

Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, the Fellows will be mentored by community college leaders who have had outstanding results for their students, learn from national experts about ways to use data to make their students more successful, and learn how to create strong external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, and employers in their community.

Dr. Cain was selected through a rigorous process that considered his abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams and cultivate partnerships, and focus on results-oriented improvements in student success and access. The Aspen program consists of three weeklong workshops over the next year.

Dr. Cain has served as dean of three different areas at the College—natural and applied sciences, business, management, and information systems; community education and extended learning services; and the Information Technology Institute—in addition to two stints as an acting dean. He also served as acting vice president for Workforce Development & Continuing Education (WD&CE). Dr. Cain began his work at Montgomery College as a part-time faculty member, later becoming a full-time faculty member. He taught chemistry on all three campuses during that service, in addition to teaching noncredit continuing education courses in computer applications.

In his role as the chief of staff/chief strategy officer, he fulfills an array of responsibilities that require leadership, vision, and a profound commitment to institutional and student success. Dr. Cain has both breadth and depth in his experience at Montgomery College, having held multiple administrative positions for 20 years. He has been deeply involved with building student success models at the College, including innovations that have improved learning outcomes, and advanced students on academic and career pathways. He is well known for having helped to implement the College’s participatory governance system and developing a systematic approach to the development and review of policy and procedures at the College. He is currently co-leading the Achieving the Dream (ATD) data team, which works to improve the College’s use of data in measuring student outcomes. His leadership has been instrumental in envisioning how data sets fit together and how the College’s systems can be made to complement one another more thoroughly.

Dr. Cain serves as the president’s primary liaison to the Board of Trustees, communicating with them about vital topics including the fiscal health of the institution, relationships with local and state funders, partnerships with businesses and private philanthropy, and responses to regulatory changes. His experience as a faculty member and administrator on each of the three campuses has positioned him especially well to maintain thorough communications with leadership there and to understand the unique assets and challenges of each campus and WD&CE.

Dr. Cain’s extensive experience has included strategic planning, financial management, facilities and technology planning, contract negotiations, and community relations. As an administrator, he has led both credit and noncredit academic units, collaborated on the development of outcomes assessment processes, and partnered with business and community leaders. Dr. Cain’s commitment to students has a long history. Before moving into higher education, he worked as a high school chemistry teacher. He was so inspired by those years of experience that he earned a PhD in education/curriculum and instruction with a concentration in science education. He has never left behind the passion that he experienced in those first years in the classroom.

Outside of the College, Dr. Cain’s activities have included membership on the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board, Rockville Economic Development, Inc., the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board’s Education Industry Initiative, and the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education. In Silver Spring, Dr. Cain took an active role on initiatives with Silver Spring Green and the Silver Spring Innovation Center. He is also a graduate of Leadership Montgomery and completed the College’s Leadership Development Institute program, as well as the Future Leaders Institute of the American Association of Community Colleges.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences from Xavier University, an MS in chemistry from the University of Toledo, and a PhD from the University of Maryland.

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