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Middlesex Community College
hough it's now a highly visible college affiliate,
the Middlesex Community College Foundation was
established in 1988 and only just getting off the ground when
Carole Cowan became president of the college in 1990.
"The question was, `How do we establish a 501c3 organization
similar to what the state universities have?,' " said Cowan.
Turning to James W. Henderson, who had served a maximum
10-year term on the MCC Board of Trustees, Cowan asked him
to become chairman of the Foundation Board of Directors.
"I told Jim I wanted to build an area of the college that looks
to the whole issue of college advancement not just fund
raising. I felt we needed to advance the role and image of
the college in the community. I wanted an organization that
supports our mission, gets people to know the college, to
engage with us and support us and gets students to come
"Jim said he would give me a couple of years," Cowan
recalled with a chuckle, noting that Henderson has led the
Foundation board ever since.
"As chairman of the MCC Foundation Board, I have a great
appreciation for the important role Middlesex has played in
building our communities and a better-educated workforce,"
said Henderson. "MCC has emerged as a recognized leader
among community colleges because of its outstanding, yet
affordable, educational opportunities, its position as an
innovative community partner, its commitment to regional
economic and workforce development, and its global mission."
The Foundation started small, but strong, said Cowan. "In the
beginning, we had Jim, David Basile and David Grieb a small
executive committee that has stayed with us over the years."
During its first 10+ years, the Foundation ran a successful
benefit golf tournament, then decided to take things to the
next level. After hiring Niki Tsongas to be "the face of the
Foundation in the community," the board began exploring
the possibility of sponsoring an event that would appeal to a
wider audience.
Cowan suggested a speaker series, like the one organized
by her alma mater, Salem State College (now Salem State
University). After further research indicated it was, indeed,
feasible, MCC's first Celebrity Forum was held in 1999.
The Foundation board told us, `Go as big as you can with the
first speaker,' " Cowan recalled. "So, we decided on Walter
Cronkite, because he was known as the most trusted man in
"He wanted to be interviewed by somebody, and we thought,
`Doris Kearns Goodwin she's a baseball nut and knows her
history' and it was a wonderful combination. The synergy
and chemistry were there. The two of them just had a great
With that first success, a tradition was born. Over the past
16 years, Celebrity Forum has grown and become the MCC
Foundation's premiere event, with proceeds benefiting
student scholarships. A wide variety of well-known men and
women have been welcomed to the stage of Lowell Memorial
Continued on page 34
The MCC Foundation:
Advancing the College in the Community