▲ While a professor, Cowan worked with the IBM Corporation to teamteach some of her division’s business classes. “For Carole, it had been a period of evolution working at the institution. Most importantly, though, she understood where the college needed to go, how it could get there, and how she could articulate that to everyone to lead the college during an unprecedented period of expansion and growth, both in our facilities and in our programs,” Henderson said. At her inauguration as college president on February 4, 1991, Houlihan said Cowan “has strength of character ... capacity for hard work ... and she is that rare person for whom people really love to work.” “One thing this institution has stood for and will continue to stand for under my leadership is excellence in the classroom,” Cowan said at her inauguration, adding that she was going to place an extra importance on providing students with extra help in basic reading, writing, math and computer skills. “As a community college we cannot set students up to fail,” she said. “If we’re going to have ‘access’ as one of our watchwords, then we have to have the support services to stand behind the students.” “I offer no illusion that the days ahead will be easy,” she said in her inauguration remarks. “But we at Middlesex will succeed as we always have. It is a place where the word impossible has no meaning.” N O T A N E A S Y R OA D The path Cowan took to the president’s office was not without its speed bumps, though. Cowan laughed as she looked back at the 14-year journey she travelled on campus prior to her selection as president. Her first year at the college was spent sharing an office “bullpen” style with three other faculty members. She recalled scrambling to secure even the most basic of office supplies. Like so many others from up and down the MCC ranks, Cowan was frustrated by the trappings of the college’s years in the VA hospital. 58