Educator:

Brian Brendlinger.

School:

Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, where he will retire June 27 as director of student activities.

Achievement:

Brendlinger, of Pottstown, was named Adviser of the Year by the American Students Association of Community Colleges. The advocacy group keeps community-college students updated on legislative issues including Pell grants, student loan interest rates, and college costs.

Brendlinger was honored in March at the organization's annual conference in Washington. The award recognizes one student-government adviser among community colleges throughout the United States for advocacy work.

Brendlinger has served as adviser to the college's Student Government Association since 1972, and as director of student activities since 1975. He supervises freshman orientation, chairs the graduation committee, and oversees the college's extracurricular programming.

"My position involves all the outside-the-classroom activities the students get involved in," said Brendlinger, 59. "We have over 35 active clubs on campus."

Question:

What is your advocacy role on campus?

Answer:

One of the most important items for students is to know who their legislators are. I have taught them to speak up and to keep our elected officials informed about issues in higher education.

We did this by visiting Harrisburg and through holding workshops on how to lobby and stay informed. Also, I took my students to ASACC's conference for 12 years. Anybody can do it for one or two years, but I did it for 12.

Q:

Why is this honor especially meaningful to you?

A:

Anytime you are recognized for what you do for your students, it means a lot.

Q:

What special memory comes to mind from your work at the college?

A:

This year has been very special. In March, students held a lasagna dinner, where they recognized one person a year for their service to the West Campus [in Pottstown]. All proceeds from the dinner were donated to the honoree's charity choice.

This year, the dinner raised $1,600, and I picked the college's Relay for Life team to receive that money.

Q:

What does a community college offer students?

A:

The community college gives every student the opportunity to be successful. It does not matter what you did in high school; everyone is equal in the community college classroom. For some, this is a ticket to a better life.

Q:

Why is student life an important part of a college experience?

A:

The outside-the-classroom experiences in college life are just as important as the inside-the-classroom experience. The students need to be well-rounded with their involvement with college activities.

Employers are looking for not just a good academic student, but one with leadership skills and community service experiences.

Q:

What has been the best part about working with students?

A:

Watching them grow, seeing them build their confidence in their leadership skills, and working with the community.

Q:

Was commencement on May 22 bittersweet?

A:

Yes. I have attended the last 38 commencements.  This includes all four of my children's commencements from Montgomery County Community College.

I will miss the students walking across stage and the "joy of accomplishment" smile on their faces.

Q:

What are your plans?

A:

I plan to spend more time with my family, go to auctions, shop for antiques, and spend time outdoors.

Q:

Although your successor has not yet been named, what would be your first piece of advice?

A:

My advice would be to be a good listener to the students and always give them encouragement.

What a colleague says:

"Brian has a unique way of connecting with student leaders and bringing out the best in them," said Dr. Kathrine Swanson, the college's associate to the president for institutional effectiveness and strategic initiatives.

"He has provided leadership for all of our key student events and celebrations, such as commencement and awards banquets. Although I wish him well in his retirement, I know that his commitment to the college and our students will truly be missed."

- Erica Lamberg