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Middlesex Community College
espite having spent most of her
career in the public sector, Carole
Cowan has embraced a decidedly
"private sector" attitude during her
24-year presidency. Drawing on her
background in business and as a
professor of business, Cowan has
always put Middlesex students first.
"It's very simple: Our students are our
customers," explained Cowan. "It's a
matter of finding out what students
want, what they need, and trying to
provide it to them in a positive
learning experience.
"That's just the way you have to think
about things, because people have
choices. Our students can go anywhere
they want to go to Northern Essex
or MassBay, or wherever."
It also helps, Cowan added, to operate
like a private college. "We have to
remember that Middlesex is a
community college that is funded by
the commonwealth at 30 percent of
its budget. That means that 70 percent
of the budget has to come from
enrollment. So, that's your customer.
"If you don't have that 70 percent,
you're not going to be serving anybody,
because you don't have a business plan
that works for the institution. You have
to think about balancing the books like
a private institution."
Cowan has applied that business-
savvy attitude toward other aspects
of the college, as well. "That's why
our physical plant is so important,
and the services we give students
are important.
"I'm a pain in the neck about the
physical appearance of the campus. I
believe a well-maintained campus helps
build the self-esteem of our students.
When they come on campus, we look
like a college, we don't look like a
dungeon with unkempt properties.
"I also don't like to see lines in
admissions, or registering for classes
or paying bills. It's the customer
experience they shouldn't be waiting.
You should have systems in place to
move people along in an efficient way.
That has just always been in the
back of my head."
Cowan has also focused on providing
students with a good "product."
"You always have to be concerned
about the product you're providing
students, which means the best
tudents Always Come First
at Middlesex Community College