A 1970s aerial view of the Marist grounds, later to become home to the Middlesex Bedford campus. ▲ “Faces that not too long ago were very likely besmirched with the mud of the Mekong Delta broke into quick smiles as hands used to the feel of an M-16 clutched diplomas marking a different kind of courage,” wrote a Lowell Sun reporter covering the ceremony. WHERE TO NEXT? While the college was experiencing growing pains at the VA, leaders were already on the prowl for permanent, bigger digs. As soon as the first classes began in 1970, Houlihan and Cataldo embarked upon Phase II of a site location project. They quickly set their sights on 200+ acres of a nearby Marist Preparatory Seminary to provide for the college’s growth. They were looking for space that could accommodate at least 3,000 students. “I recall someone telling me that we didn’t need to purchase all of the sprawling acreage, we just needed a chunk of it for Middlesex,” said Cataldo. “I told them I wanted it all, because the land would help set the college apart, and this was the one that I wanted to serve as the flagship of Massachusetts’ community colleges. I didn’t want to skimp, and knew that we had to do it right from the outset. I wanted Middlesex to be able to develop into areas that no other community colleges had yet to explore, and I wanted them to be able to initiate new courses, without any interference from neighbors.” 21