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t was the spring of
1987 and things
looked somewhat bleak
for the fall opening of
Middlesex Community College's
new Lowell campus.
Tucked into rented office space at the
Wannalancit Mills Building, there was
no furniture, no supplies, and barely
any employees, save one: Molly Sheehy.
The former Lowell schoolteacher had
just landed the job of outreach
coordinator for the suburban Bedford
community college's foray into an
urban landscape.
Sheehy wasn't exactly sure what she
had gotten herself into, looking at an
empty office devoid of even a
telephone. Later that morning, she was
invited to lunch by the college's dean
of business. Carole Cowan wanted to
welcome Sheehy to the MCC fold and
help her chart a plan for the college's
new Lowell campus.
Now, 25 years later, Sheehy has retired
from the various positions she has held
since 1987, and MCC has since become
part of the fabric of downtown Lowell.
Indeed, many people cannot recall a
time when Middlesex was not in
downtown Lowell. But it was not a
path easily traveled.
Cowan, now president of the college,
remembers the pressure mounted by
then-Gov. Michael Dukakis, who was
insistent that MCC open its Lowell
campus. The pressure from external
forces was so great, recalled Cowan,
that some were even considering
closing the college's Bedford campus
and moving everything lock, stock and
barrel to Lowell.
"There was a strong belief by many at
that time that the community college
MCC Celebrates 25 Years
in Downtown Lowell
Middlesex, then and now: Faculty and staff from the Bedford and Lowell campuses gathered
on the City Building steps for Opening Day 2012. Lowell faculty and staff (inset) launched
MCC's urban campus in 1987.