President Houlihan, accompanied by Dean Carole Cowan (far left), with the MCC recipient of the North Suburban Chamber of Commerce Secretarial Scholarship. ▲ Houlihan’s retirement caused many people on campus to prognosticate about what was to come. Who would be the new president? Would he or she come from within the ranks of the college or would it be an outsider? And, what would this upheaval mean for the proposed expansions of both campuses in Lowell and Bedford? All of these questions would soon be answered. On September 16, 1987, Middlesex held its first convocation in Lowell, with a ceremony at the Smith-Baker Center, a historic performance hall adjacent to Lowell City Hall. Houlihan presided over the convocation, even though he would not be around to see the campus through to its expansion in the city. In his exit interviews, Houlihan acknowledged the changes facing the college, especially the political battle that would need to be waged to secure the start-up budget to fully open the Lowell campus. It had become clear to all involved in the search for a new college president, specifically the Board of Trustees and the college-commissioned search committee, that the person selected would have to be able to navigate tricky political waters to achieve success. Jim Henderson, then chairman of the MCC Board of Trustees, having inherited the position from Paul Galvani, said the search committee was meticulous in its selection, in that it wanted someone with a wide breadth of experience, not just someone with credentials in higher education. Henderson believes the breadth of that search committee ultimately helped ensure the quality of the choice. 41