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needed to be in an urban setting in
order to reach more of the populace
we were hoping to serve," said
Cowan. "We had to fight to make
the case for maintaining dual
campuses, both urban and suburban,
that would each serve a distinct
population, each have a distinct
identity, yet each serve the same
Cowan said the city of Lowell rolled
out the red carpet for MCC, leading
up to Opening Day in September
1987. Banners were hung across
Merrimack Street announcing the
college's arrival. Special Lowell
National Historical Park boat and
trolley tours were arranged for
Middlesex personnel, to help them
acclimate to their new surroundings.
Sheehy said the city was quick to
embrace a community college, seeing
it as an organic partner for the other
higher-educational institution in
town, the university of Lowell (now
UMass Lowell). Under Sheehy's
direction, partnerships were
established with both the University
and the Lowell Public Schools system.
"The arrival of Middlesex in Lowell
allowed us to expand the landscape
of learning opportunities for city
students, as well as those of
neighboring communities," Sheehy
said. "We were able to provide new
learning options that offered a new
breadth of career advancement for
the students."
After a few years at Wannalancit
Mills, the college, coping with
increasing enrollments, began
looking for a new address. Several
downtown properties were
considered, but one edifice emerged
as the leading candidate: The high-
rise training facility recently vacated
by the struggling Wang Laboratories
in Kearney Square.
MCC's first president, James
Houlihan, retired just after opening
the Lowell campus. The new
president, Evan Dobelle, recruited
Cowan for a high-ranking post in his
new administration, and led the
charge to relocate to the former
Wang Corporate Education Center.
Dobelle himself would move on after
only a few years and Cowan was
appointed the college's third
president. She officially opened
MCC's permanent Lowell campus, at
33 Kearney Square, in 1991.
Over the years since, Middlesex has
continued to expand its footprint in
Lowell, opening the Health, Science
& Technology Center on Middle
Street, the Federal Building in
Kearney Square, and the Merrimack
Building on East Merrimack Street.
Most recently, the college acquired
the Boston & Maine Railroad Depot
Building, which will eventually
house arts programs. The Middlesex
Community College Foundation also
acquired the historic John Nesmith
House, on Andover Street, for
college and community use.
At this year's Opening Day
ceremonies, special thanks were
extended to the first 10-12 Lowell
campus employees who helped
launch the new campus. President
Cowan took a few moments to look
back over the past 25 years. And
Executive Vice President Jay
Linnehan gave special recognition to
Sheehy, who served as Lowell campus
"Anniversaries always provide us
with the opportunity to take a look
at where we've been, and how far
we've come," said Cowan. "But they
also give us a chance to take a look at
where we can still go. And, in the
case of Middlesex, with the support
of our faculty and staff, and the
unending potential of our student
body, I think there are still
incredible things waiting ahead for
the college."
Pa trick Cook
On Opening Day 2012 (left to right), retiring Dean of the
Lowell Campus Molly Sheehy and President Carole
Cowan cut the 25th anniversary cake.
In 1987, Molly Sheehy (fourth from left) and a handful
of other Lowell staff members got the new campus
up and running.
MCC's permanent Lowell campus opened in 1991
in the former Wang Corporate Education Center
now the City Building.
The Federal Building was purchased in 1996 from
the federal government; renovated and opened to
students in 2004.