Flowers and congratulatory gifts filled President Cowan’s first office. Below, MCC’s first president, James Houlihan, speaks at Cowan’s inauguration. ▲ Cowan slid the paper back across the desk and said no. She drove off the campus, discouraged that her plan to change work addresses had been scuttled by a low salary offer. The following day her phone rang. It was an MCC dean, with an offer about $3,000 higher than the previous day’s. The college really wanted her, and they wanted her to join the faculty that September. She accepted the second offer. Fourteen years later, Cowan received another phone call from an MCC leader, this time with a different offer. It was late night, Tuesday, September 18, 1990. On the phone was MCC Trustees Chairman Jim Henderson telling Cowan that she had just been selected by the MCC Board of Trustees to be the third president of Middlesex Community College. He asked her if she would accept the position. She emphatically said yes. Her predecessor, Evan Dobelle, said he wasn’t surprised at all that Cowan was selected to succeed him. The choice, he said, was a natural. “Carole was the perfect fit to lead that college. When I left, I had folks ask me if we had anybody inside who could be a candidate, and I said there’s only one person to hire – Carole,” he recalled. “She had the confidence of the institution. She got up every day and liked going to work. It was magic.” In her first press interview after being named MCC President, Cowan said, “I believe that at this time in Middlesex’s history it needs someone who will continue the direction of the college as it has been developed by the college’s Futures Committee and Evan Dobelle. I’ve been instrumental in the development of the campus plans and I thought I would be the best person to follow them through.” Henderson said Cowan had the vision and foresight that was needed to execute the plans that Dobelle had put in place. 57