Celebrating 5 Decades of Student Success

Middlesex Community College first opened its doors to welcome students on September 24, 1970.

Photo of MCC's First Sign for the Bedford VA Campus    Photo of MCC's Bedford VA Campus
Since then, MCC has educated tens of thousands of students, helping them on their paths to associate, bachelor’s and advanced degrees, as well as meaningful careers, professional growth, personal enrichment and workforce training.

From the school's humble beginnings at the Bedford Veterans Administration Hospital, the college grew, acquiring the Marist Preparatory Seminary Grounds in 1978 – making it the permanent home of the Bedford campus – and then expanding to Lowell in 1989. The development and launch of MCC's Online Learning Program more than 20 years ago, made MCC a thriving, vibrant dual-campus institution and a leader in online education.

A Brief Overview of MCC

Middlesex Community College is committed to preparing students of all ages for success. One of the largest, most comprehensive community colleges in Massachusetts, MCC offers more than 80 degree and certificate programs — plus hundreds of noncredit courses. Flexible scheduling and special program options give students the opportunity to study online or on campus — in Bedford and Lowell — with day, evening, weekend, accelerated and Mini-mester course options.

MCC’s nurturing, diverse college community is focused on helping students achieve their transfer, career and professional development goals. Kids, high school students, traditional-aged college students, adult learners and senior adults all come to Middlesex for a variety of reasons. They bring with them their own personal backstories that are inspirational, heartwarming and uplifting.

A leader in workforce training, MCC has provided thousands of employees in hundreds of businesses, industries and municipalities throughout our service area with education and training tools tailored to the unique needs of each partner business. 

When the college first opened, programs such as nursing and criminal justice were the mainstays of its academic curriculum. Today, robust programs in fields such as cybersecurity and biotechnology help educate students for some of the most sought-after career pathways in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Middlesex’s newest academic space, the Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center, has allowed the college to invest in its theater, music and dance programs in a way never before seen in its history. A state-of-the art biotechnology laboratory, currently under construction, will help support burgeoning STEM programs, especially in biotech.

MCC’s 12,000 plus students benefit from a broad spectrum of support services, activities and learning environments, including free tutoring, housing and food resources, international fellowships, honors courses, financial wellness programming, leadership training, career counseling, student clubs, intramural sports and service organizations.

College Presidents

President James E. Houlihan Jr.   President Evan S. Dobell.  President Carole A. Cowan.  President James C. Mabry
Throughout its five decades, Middlesex has benefitted from the hard work and dedication of four presidents. The first was Dr. James E. Houlihan Jr. His tenure with the college started on opening day in 1970 until 1988 when Dr. Evan S. Dobelle was appointed MCC’s second president. After Dobelle left in 1990, Dr. Carole A. Cowan – who started with the college as a professor of business – was named the college’s third president. Cowan remained president for the next 25 years. In 2015, Dr. James C. Mabry was named MCC’s fourth president.

Major Milestones

From expanding the campus in Bedford, to establishing the college as a vital institution in Lowell, throughout its 50 years, Middlesex has striven to guide students on their paths, to give them opportunities they might not have gotten elsewhere, and to mark the college as a leader throughout the community.

The college celebrated its first Commencement in 1972, two years after Opening Day. During the first decade, MCC started offering continuing education courses, grew in enrollment numbers by more than 30 percent, opened its dental hygiene clinic and health service center, and purchased the Marist Brothers property for a permanent Bedford campus.

MCC turned 10 as it started its second decade. The college opened a campus in Burlington and launched new programs, including business and industry. Throughout the second decade, MCC continued to grow in enrollment and opened its Lowell campus, as well as began welcoming international students.

The third decade saw the construction of permanent headquarters in both Bedford and Lowell, as well as the first online course offerings. The MCC Foundation launched its first major campaign and purchased Lowell’s historic John Nesmith House. Students began participating in Service-Learning opportunities and the college opened the Health, Science and Technology Center.  

As the fourth decade began, the college launched several new projects and ventures, including starting the Honors Program and Links Program, opening and acquiring new buildings in Lowell, and partnering with Lahey Clinic to start the Nursing Partnership Program. The MCC Foundation also acquired a Meetinghouse in Bedford and launched the Annual Fund.

In the fifth decade, MCC focused on strengthening its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) offerings, as well as opened the Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center to enhance the college’s performing arts department. The college worked hard to find meaningful solutions to close the achievement gap and to engage in conversations on equity – making Middlesex an accessible and safe option for all. At the end of the decade, the college rose to the challenge of adapting to a new virtual world in the face of the pandemic.

As we enter a new decade, the college looks forward to building its future and continuing to lead students to success.


Last Modified: 2/12/21