2021 | Schools

Montgomery College names interim president

Dukes will replace Pollard in August

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Charlene Dukes has been appointed interim president of Montgomery College.

Via Prince George's Community College

Montgomery College on Tuesday announced that Charlene Dukes will be its interim president when DeRionne Pollard leaves for a new job in Nevada this summer.

Dukes was the president of Prince George’s Community College from 2007 to 2020, when she retired. She was the first woman to lead the school.

Dukes will replace Pollard on Aug. 7. Pollard was hired in April as the next president of Nevada State College in Henderson, Nev., near Las Vegas.

“Working closely with the College’s senior leadership, who will bring their talents and experience to support Dr. Dukes and the College in every way possible, we will ensure that the College continues to fulfill its mission,” the Montgomery College Board of Trustees wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “The momentum in place to propel the institution’s current initiatives will be enriched by Dr. Dukes’ experience empowering students and partnering with the community.”

The statement said the college hopes to complete its search for the next president “optimally” within the next six months. However, an extension might be needed, “given the importance of this selection,” the statement said.

The Board of Trustees acknowledged in its statement that a change in the school’s top leadership is coming at a time of “significant transition,” as Montgomery College works to return to buildings after an extended absence due to COVID-19.

“We are aware that transitions can be unsettling — particularly several at once. However, there is substantial depth to the leadership of the College at all levels,” the statement said. “The Board is confident that all divisions of the College will partner productively to accomplish our shared goals and achieve the stability needed while the institution embarks on this change in presidential leadership.”

Before her retirement, Dukes was lauded for building strong partnerships between Prince George’s Community College and the local school system, growing the school and improving facilities, and her involvement in state and national organizations.

She was a member of the Maryland State Board of Education from 2007 to 2015, and was president from 2012 to 2015.

She was a member of the Board of Education of Prince George’s County from 2002 to 2006.

Dukes has been named one of the 100 most powerful women in the Washington metropolitan area by Washingtonian four times — in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. She was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

In the past year, Dukes has continued to serve on various education boards and commissions. In July 2020, she was appointed by the Prince George’s County executive to co-chair “Prince George’s Forward,” a task force tasked with “the post-COVID transformation of Prince George’s County,” according to a news release from Montgomery College.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com