The Wannalancit Mills worked as an early home for the college, but it was clear more space would be needed. ▲ Lowell’s Paul Sheehy had been serving as a state senator for much of MCC’s earliest two decades. For him, the chance to bring the suburban campus into downtown Lowell was very attractive. “Bringing Middlesex to Lowell was a natural opportunity to enhance education opportunities for people in Lowell,” recalled Sheehy. “Lowell at the time was short on academic opportunities, and we had a lot of people going into Boston to take certain courses.” Sheehy maintained conversations with Dukakis about exploring options in Lowell, particularly in its downtown. Many insiders say that while President Houlihan did not immediately embrace the idea, focusing intently on the Marist property, he eventually came around, due in great part to external political forces that were also coming to bear on the plan. So it was, one Sunday morning in early 1987 when Senator Sheehy’s wife, Molly, then a teacher at the Molloy School in Lowell, saw an advertisement in the Lowell Sun newspaper seeking an outreach worker for Bedford’s Middlesex Community College. The new hire would be working in Lowell. Molly Sheehy felt it would be a unique opportunity, and despite some skepticism from her teaching colleagues, decided to apply for the job. She travelled to Bedford and interviewed with a number of people, including President Houlihan. “They indicated that they were thinking about opening a campus in Lowell, and that they were looking for someone who knew the community. They offered me the job, and I started on March 9, 1987, in an office at the Wannalancit Mills” alongside Suffolk Street, recalls Sheehy. Describing the set-up as an office was being kind. When Sheehy arrived for her first day at work, there was literally nothing in the room. Facilities personnel showed up later that morning with a telephone. A desk and chair followed. 35