Middlesex Community College Inaugurates Fifth President and Welcomes the 2021 Emeritus Class

Nineteen months after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the college’s plans to celebrate its first 50 years, Middlesex Community College came together on the college’s 51st anniversary ~ Friday, September 24, 2021 ~ to honor the college’s past and celebrate its future during the inauguration of President Phil Sisson ~ Courtesy image (c) 2021 all rights reserved

~ Submitted by Middlesex Community College

Alumni, staff and community members pose with Middlesex College President Phil Sisson (wearing a mask) and Trustee Bopha Malone (far right) ~ Courtesy image (c) 2021 all rights reserved

Nineteen months after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the college’s in-person plans to celebrate 50 years, Middlesex Community College came together on the college’s 51st anniversary – Friday, September 24, 2021 – to honor the past and celebrate the future of Middlesex.

“This event is an invitation to reflect on what MCC has done these last 50 years and how together we will dig deep to meet the challenges of the future,” said MCC President Phil Sisson in his inauguration speech. “At Middlesex, we are not resistant to change but resilient in change.”

Hosted by the Middlesex Community College Foundation, MCC awarded 23 faculty, staff and administrators – as well as third president Carole Cowan – with Emeritus status, inaugurated President Sisson as the college’s fifth president, and celebrated with an evening of music, food, and dance. Due to inclement weather, the event was held at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium where there was plenty of space for attendees to celebrate safely.

In his inauguration speech, President Sisson also talked about the importance of planning for and working toward the future. Using the pillars on the Middlesex logo for reference, he mapped out the ways in which MCC can grow in the future.

These include remembering and reflecting on where MCC started; restoring and rebuilding the college in the time of the pandemic and after; reaffirming and re-dedicating MCC’s commitment to race equity; reexamining and revisiting practices, policies, and procedures that may be preventing Middlesex from meeting its race equity goals; and collectively reimagining and redesigning what the college will look like moving forward.

To speak on MCC’s present, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Arlene Rodríguez, shared her thoughts on starting at Middlesex only a few months ago. She also spoke about the recent achievements made by the college, students, faculty, and staff.

“I learned right on my first day that the Middlesex family lives by the lesson my father taught me so long ago – Si no vives para servir, no sirves para vivir,” Rodríguez said. “A life well-led is one dedicated to the service of others.”

Representing MCC’s past – and the Emeritus Class of 2021 – former President Cowan spoke over Zoom to reflect on her tenure and the early years of building the college. President Cowan was honored to talk about the work she witnessed and what she was able to complete over the years.

“We were always proud to be a campus of firsts,” President Emeritus Cowan said. “We loved doing new things and looked for new opportunities. Yes, Middlesex has a proud 50-year legacy, but I believe greater good is coming to the future.”

MCC’s 2021 Emeritus Class spent their careers going above and beyond to serve the MCC community. Their work and commitment helped to build Middlesex into the innovative leader and community partner it remains today.

The Emeriti include:

  • Margaret Bleichman, Department Chair and Professor of Computer Science
  • Patrick Boyle, Department Chair and Professor of Computer-aided Design (CAD)
  • Christopher Brennan, Associate Provost of Economic and Workforce Development
  • Ivette Caletz, Academic Counselor
  • Carole Cowan, Third President
  • Maria Cunha, Program Director for Out of School Youth Developmental Center, Latino Connections and English Learner Institute
  • Mary Anne Dean, Dean of Resource Development
  • Donna Duffy, Professor of Behavioral Science
  • Carrie Finestone, Professor of English
  • Carol Hay, Department Chair and Professor of Mathematics
  • Laura Horgan, Librarian
  • Pat Hyde, Professor of English
  • David Kalivas, Professor of History and Director of the Commonwealth Honors Program
  • Claire Kamasaki, Professor of English
  • Robert Kaulfuss, Professor, Chair of the Curriculum Committee and FSA Executive Committee, Credit for Prior Learning Coordinator
  • JoAnne Lamoureaux, Department Chair and Faculty Member of Dental Hygiene
  • Elise Martin, Dean of Assessment and Professional Development
  • Jo Mucci, Director of the First-Year Experience, Interdisciplinary Studies and Student Success
  • Catherine Pride, Counselor, Administrator and Faculty Member of Mathematics, Psychology and Student Development
  • Kathleen Rich, Comptroller
  • Lura Smith, Assistant to the President
  • Jane Wiggins, Faculty Member of Science
  • Susan Woods, Associate Dean of Student Support Services

The event started with a musical welcome from the Lowell Chamber Orchestra, conducted by MCC Associate Professor Orlando Cela. Middlesex Student Trustees Daniella Dankwa (2020-2021) and Brooke Stevenson (2021-2022) offered introductory remarks. Dankwa is a Liberal Arts and Sciences major pursuing Nursing and Stevenson is a Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies student hoping to one day work in either field.

A processional included the March of Flags reflecting the diverse countries of the MCC student body, as well as Union Representatives, MCC Alumni Board, Cabinet, Government Officials, MCC Foundation Board, Mass. Community College Presidents, MCC Emeritus, MCC Board of Trustees, Board Chair James Campbell, Interim Provost Rodríguez and President Sisson.

Darcy Orellana, MCC’s Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, provided a Land Acknowledgement to recognize Indigenous Peoples who originated the land on which the event was held. Chairman Campbell offered greetings on behalf of MCC’s Board of Trustees, while Carlos Santiago, the Commissioner of Higher Education, congratulated President Sisson.

After the ceremony, attendees enjoyed a dance performance by Indras Artistic Creations and an inauguration reception with a musical performance by The Spittin Vinnies, featuring MCC Chemistry Professor John Savage. A 51st Anniversary Party followed with food trucks – Sal’s Pizza, Uncle E’s BBQ, Mira Ve, Chicken and Rice Guy, Bon Me, Dylan and Pete’s Ice Cream and Whoopie Wagon – and an ‘80’s themed dance party to music provided by DJ Terry Moran.

In honor of President Sisson’s inauguration, the MCC Foundation created the Presidential Equity Promise Scholarship to assist Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students with funds to complete their program of study. The scholarship works to close financial aid gaps for students to be able to pay for college expenses.

Visit https://www.middlesex.mass.edu/foundation/promise.aspx to donate in honor of President Sisson and to support students.


Middlesex is still registering for Fall 2021 Mini-mester II, starting on Monday, November 1. For more information and to register for classes, visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/registration/ or call 1-800-818-3434.

Discover your path at Middlesex Community College. As one of the largest, most comprehensive community colleges in Massachusetts, MCC has been a proven leader in education for more than 50 years. Middlesex puts the student first. Meeting each learner where they are, MCC provides them with a safe, welcoming and engaging place to learn. Offering more than 80 degree and certificate programs – plus hundreds of noncredit courses – Middlesex features flexible course formats and a variety of award-winning student support services and resources. Student success starts at MCC!




CAPTION (MCC_ Special_Event_F21.jpg: Nineteen months after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the college’s plans to celebrate 50 years, Middlesex Community College once again came together on the college’s 51st anniversary – Friday, September 24, 2021 – to honor the past and celebrate the future of Middlesex. 1: MCC 5th President Phil Sisson 2:Alumni, staff and community members pose with President Phil Sisson and Trustee Bopha Malone 3: MCC Former President Emeritus Carole Cowan 4: MCC Student Trustees L-R Brooke Stevenson and Daniella Dankwa.






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