By Dean Galiffa
“Hi, I’m Kelley Simone, it’s so great to meet you!” says the principle of Upper Darby High School, extending her hot-pink acrylic nails out for a firm handshake to DCCC’s new provost, Dr. Monica Parrish Trent.
“Hello, it’s nice to meet you,” Trent responds.
Both are attending the Sponsoring School Districts Appreciation Dinner on Oct. 24, 2018.
The Marple campus cafeteria has been transformed to a formal dinner setting; guests in suits carry cups of soft drinks from a soda fountain, various horderves are arranged for snacking, and a meat-carving station is being prepared in the corner.
After being appointed in April 2018, Trent became provost, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs, and chief academic officer in June.
Trent is responsible for the overall curriculum and instruction, which means she oversees all faculty and students at the college.
As vice president of academic and Student Affairs, Trent also has campus-wide responsibilities. She supervises institutional effectiveness and research, enabling faculty members to be responsible for the college.
While at the appreciation dinner, Simone tells Trent of a new schoolboard decision.
“We voted on the amount of credits a student needs in order to take dual enrollment classes,” Simone says.
Simone explains that it was a unanimous vote of 9 to 0. Before, a student needed at least 26 credits. This prompts Trent to ask how many students attend the high school.
“We oversee 3,800 students.” Simone replies, to Trent’s surprise. “There are a lot of students, and many of them are dual enrollment students.”
After a short while, Trent excuses herself to her respective dinner table. Many follow suit as social hour draws to a close and dinner is about to begin.
“Good evening, thank you all so much for coming,” says President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black, looking out into the audience. “I want to thank all of you for your partnership with Delaware County Community College.”
Next to her a large projection screen reads “Sponsoring Districts and Dual Enrollment.”
“Since last year, we had a number of retirements in our senior leadership here at Delaware County Community College,” Gates Black says. “I thought I would introduce some of the faces that you may come into contact with.”
As each name is called, a college official waves from the crowded tables, followed by applause.
“I’d like to introduce Monica Parrish Trent,” Gates Black says. “Monica is our new provost and vice president for Academic and Student Affairs.”
Trent stands up from her seat and waves to the audience with a smile.
From an early age, Trent says she had an interest in literature and writing. She attended George Mason University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English.
After an internship at USA Today, Trent returned to her alma mater for her Master of Arts in English. While there, she followed the Teaching and Learning track and eventually began teaching as an adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College for course credits.
Following graduation, Trent applied for a position at Brookdale Community College, where she became a tenured assistant professor of English.
Having spent six years at Brookdale, Trent began her career at Montgomery College in 2000, where she was a professor in the English department and a member of the counseling and advising cadre at the Rockville campus.
In 2012, Trent became the associate instructional dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the college’s Takoma Park campus.
Two years later, Trent was appointed college-wide dean of the ELAP, Linguistics and Communication Studies division. She oversaw more than 150 faculty and staff in three academic departments, as well as the Germantown Writing, Reading and Language Center.
In May 2016, Trent earned her Doctorate of Philosophy in Community College Leadership from the Darden College of Education at Old Dominion University in Virginia, where she also received a doctoral student fellowship.
While attending the American Association of Community Colleges Conference in 2017, Trent met Glenn DuBois, the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, at a restaurant by complete chance.
Trent told DuBois she was interested in becoming the provost of a college. He suggested she start applying to colleges that fit her criteria.
Not long after, Trent began her application process. She liked Delaware County Community College because of its multiple campuses, metropolitan region, and overall dedication student success.
Trent was attracted to the provost position at the college because it oversaw both student and academic affairs, including Achieving the Dream, a “national effort aimed at helping community college students succeed,” according to the college’s website. Trent was the director of the Achieving the Dream initiative at Montgomery College.
Now, Trent is looking forward to presenting revisions in the college’s initiatives that stem from Achieving the Dream, including changes in developmental math and reading courses.
Trent says she understands how busy the personal lives of students can be, but wants them to be aware of the resources the college offers.
“I would love for students to really exercise every option,” Trent says. “We have wrap-around support with our tutoring services, counseling and advising, clubs, and initiatives.”
As for faculty, Trent says an opportunity for improving student life and overall curriculum is the Middle States Commission of Higher Education Self-Study Institute.
“One of the things faculty are really beginning to work on is looking…at the ways we communicate and honor our mission,” Trent says. “[The self-study] is when we do a deep-dive into how we do that across seven standards.”
A way to accomplish the college’s mission is to recognize the support of sponsoring school districts through an annual dinner.
When reflecting on why she has chosen to remain at community colleges throughout her career, Trent offers the personal experience of her sister, who attended community college.
“My sister didn’t subscribe to being a traditionalist in the classroom,” Trent says. “The community college mission is very important to me. It is an opportunity for people from different walks of life who have had a different background…to get an education and access everything society has available to them.”
Contact Dean Galiffa at email@example.com