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Middlesex Community College
B
uilding Middlesex
One Property at a Time
D
uring her 38-year career at
Middlesex, Carole Cowan has
been instrumental in taking the college
from temporary buildings at multiple
locations to permanent campuses in
Bedford and Lowell. And, she has
continued to steadily improve and
expand MCC's footprint as desirable
properties became available.
"When I started at Middlesex, we were
in rented space in five different places.
We've gone through the growing pains
of building this college. My tenure as
president has been a building time
24 years of building."
Fortunately, Cowan's professional
background was made-to-order for
the task. "I've always had a deep
interest in real estate. In my past,
I was involved in real estate on the
North Shore."
Cowan began building the college in
1978, when, as head of the Faculty
Association, she helped lead a
successful letter-writing campaign
to urge the state to follow through
on its promise to buy Bedford's 200-acre
Marist Brothers Preparatory Seminary.
It was the perfect property for a
permanent campus, she recalled.
"You could see the site itself had great
promise. Even the buildings, as old and
decrepit as they were, had a college
look to them."
Years later, with state construction
funds finally in hand and hoping to
move ahead quickly, the college
proposed to proceed with modular
construction on the Bedford site. "We
knew if the state would agree to go
modular, we could build the campus in
a couple of years. If not, it would have
taken five to seven years," said Cowan.
The Bedford campus opened in 1992.
MCC's master plan also called for an
urban campus in Lowell which
required an entirely different building
approach. "When you're in a city, you
have to go with existing properties."
After opening in temporary quarters
at the Wannalancit Mills Building in
1987, Middlesex acquired the Wang
Educational Center (now the City
Building) for its permanent Lowell
campus, which opened in 1991. "We
purchased the City Building because it
was, basically, ready to go," explained
Cowan. "Wang had built it for $25
Continued on page 12
million and we got it for $11.5 million
and it was almost new construction.
You can't get a better bargain
than that!"
With two permanent Middlesex
campuses up and running, it was then a
matter of expanding, one building at a
time, "depending on where we had an
opportunity to buy," said Cowan.
With the goal of moving the Dental
Clinic, Nursing and Biotechnology
programs, and science labs to Lowell,
the college purchased a foreclosed bank