▲ Dobelle, supporting one of many MCC community and student events. “I remember him at a small meeting on campus saying that we’re just going to keep saying that Middlesex is the flagship of the state’s community college system and we’re going to say that so loud and so often that it’s going to become a fact,” said McPhee. “Sure enough, pretty soon in Boston, in Washington, all over, you started hearing Middlesex was the flagship of the (community college) system.” Dobelle said he wasn’t afraid to challenge the norms and didn’t balk at making statements that might not seem politically correct within academia. In a newspaper interview, Dobelle said of Middlesex: “We don’t fear failure. If you’re not trying something differently, then you really are failing because you’ll become very acceptive of a rate of attrition. Some may say 30 percent always drop out. That’s not good enough for me. You have to figure out different ways of approaching things.” Dobelle also made it abundantly clear that he was not content to just look to expand the college’s suburban campus. He believed the college’s true growth rested in an urban setting as well. “Right away, I told the Trustees ‘You need to be in Lowell.’ I said, ‘You’re in the biggest county in Massachusetts, and your college is in Bedford and Billerica. That’s not your population center, it doesn’t reflect poverty and growth and that’s not where your stereotypical community college student is going to come from,’ ” Dobelle recalled. 47