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Middlesex Community College
me. Lowell reminded me of the city of Lynn where I grew
up, and I got very excited about the idea of opening new
programs, or exploring new directions by expanding
into Lowell."
President Houlihan hired Molly Sheehy to be the college's
first employee in Lowell, helping to bridge the gap between
the college and the city and its school programs. Cowan met
Sheehy for lunch on Molly's first day. "You could really feel
her enthusiasm for what could happen in Lowell and I really
valued her as a colleague because she was someone who
could clearly see a vision for the college in the city."
With Cowan expressing interest in the Mill City expansion,
she was tapped to help find permanent digs that would allow
the college to expand past its meager and temporary
offerings in the Wannalancit Mills off Shattuck Street.
Meanwhile, the leadership of MCC changed hands for
the first time, as Houlihan retired and a Pittsfield public
administrator Evan Dobelle - took over as MCC's
second president. He immediately tapped Cowan for a
leadership promotion.
"Evan asked me what I would like to do next he asked
me to think about running continuing education. I chose
administration and finance because it was a new challenge,"
Cowan recalled.
On the Bedford side of the campus landscape, the college was
just beginning to explore an expansion into abandoned Marist
Seminary property off Springs Road. "If you stood in the
middle of that farmland, you could see what the college
would look like if you could build on it. And in Lowell, there
was the new opportunity to develop historic properties and
introduce a college into that environment. We were one of
the first community colleges in Massachusetts to boast dual
campuses, so it was an exciting time," Cowan reminisced.
With her growth into administration, Cowan retired her
full-time classroom teaching and became immersed in what
would become known as the college's Master Plan.
In the spring of 1990, Cowan received news that would end
up charting the rest of her professional career. Dobelle was
moving on, and Cowan decided to accept a nomination to
apply for the job of President.
"I never thought I could get the job, it was working at the
trustee level, something I hadn't done much of. I figured I
would accept the nomination and apply, and would probably
move on anyways if I didn't get the job," Cowan said.
She interviewed with Trustees in a Boston hotel at the end
of the summer of 1990. "The board had an understanding
of what the college needed in its next president, and they
understood my commitment to the college. They knew I had
a very strong understanding of where the college was in its
development, and they really believed I could execute that
plan," she said.
Cowan's interview with the board focused on four areas
capital expansion, commitment to developing strong
workforce development programs, building community
and business partnerships in the college's service area,
and preparing students for a global economy.
"I grew up knowing that it was a team
approach that could be counted on for
success, and I hope I have been able
to reflect that in the work I've done at
Middlesex."
~ Dr. Carole A. Cowan,
Middlesex President