50th Anniversary

First MWCC graduation 1966

MWCC’s first Commencement exercises took place on June 12, 1966 with 71 graduates. This year, the college will award more than 840 degrees and certificates to 781 graduates. Pictured, from left, 1966 graduates and award recipients Mary Pieloch and Doris Townsend; Dr. Arthur F. Haley, President; graduate and award recipient James Eacmen, Jr.; and Commencement speaker Dr. Howard B. Jefferson, president of Clark University. (Photo courtesy of The Gardner News)

Fifty years ago, lifelong Gardner resident Helen Lepkowski was among a handful of Mount Wachusett Community College faculty members to congratulate the college’s first graduating class.

On Wednesday, May 20, the former business division professor and her husband, Ed, a former MWCC trustee, will maintain their longstanding tradition of attending the celebration. Unlike the first ceremony, where 71 graduates received associate degrees in six academic programs, the college will award more than 840 associate degrees and academic certificates to 785 graduates enrolled in nearly 50 program options.

Mount Wachusett’s first commencement, held outdoors on Sunday, June 12, 1966 at the Elm Street campus, featured Dr. Howard B. Jefferson, the third president of Clark University, as the speaker.

“It was very small and it was just wonderful and intimate. It was a beautiful day,” Mrs. Lepkowski recalled. “It’s always a wonderful opportunity to be there and there are always people you know who are graduating or are there for the occasion.”

MWCC’s 50th Commencement ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. in the college’s Fitness & Wellness Center.

Among this year’s highlights, Gardner native Kevin Berg, executive vice president of production for CBS Network Entertainment in Los Angeles, will deliver the commencement address. Berg also will receive an honorary doctorate of Humanities, as well as the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award.

Community leader and long-serving volunteer James O. Garrison will receive is the recipient of Mount Wachusett Community College’s 2015 Service Above Self Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions within the 29 cities and towns that make up the college’s service area. Mr. Garrison, former MWCC Board of Trustees chair and benefactor of the Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Education scholarships, will receive an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters. Prior to the commencement ceremony, President Daniel M. Asquino and the Board of Trustees will recognize Mr. Garrison and his wife, Peggy, for their generous gifts and commitment to students during a rededication of the Garrison Center.

Business Administration graduate Yasmine Kanaan has been selected to deliver the Class of 2015 Student Address.

Five retiring professors will receive emeriti status: Joel Anderson, Media Arts & Technology; Paul Laverty, Mathematics; John McNally, Health Sciences, Fitness & Wellness; Elena Natalizia, Criminal Justice; and John Reilly, Business Administration.

New this year, two food trucks will be on site to curb appetites: The Dogfather Truck of Worcester, and Dylan and Pete’s Ice Cream Truck of Boston. The MWCC Alumni Association will return with flowers for sale, and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society will conduct its 12th annual Project Graduation food drive. Graduates and their guests are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to the commencement rehearsal and/or ceremony. Donations will be delivered to the Gardner Community Action Committee, the Winchendon Community Action Committee, and MWCC’s Students SOS office.

Mount Wachusett Community College has received a bronze Excellence Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), District 1 in the Year-Long Special Events category for the multi-faceted 50th Anniversary celebration throughout 2013.

The award was presented to the college during the District 1 awards celebration on January 29 in Boston.

MWCC celebrated its golden anniversary with a series of special events, publications and marketing collateral geared toward the college community, alumni, benefactors and the general public. Events included concerts, a Free College Day for the public, art exhibitions, theatre productions and a Harvest Ball fundraiser for scholarships. Advertising, publicity, social media, photography and graphic design projects, a 50th anniversary website and commemorative publications were among the communications components used to tell the story of MWCC’s past, present and future.

CASE is an international professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas. CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with their alumni and donors, raise funds for campus projects, produce recruitment materials, market their institutions to prospective students, diversify the profession, and foster public support of education.

Each year, CASE District 1 bestows its Excellence Awards on individuals and schools doing innovative work in the subfields of special events, fundraising, stewardship, volunteer engagement, alumni relations, student alumni initiatives, advancement services and communications.

By Chelsea Quinn

Students, faculty and staff of all ages gathered at the Gardner campus on Nov. 7 for a Peace Pole dedication. The pole, engraved “May peace prevail on earth” in eight languages, is a gift to the college from students in honor of MWCC’s 50th anniversary.

The dedication was spearheaded by The Green Society, with contributions made from many campus clubs, including the Student Government Association, Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Beta Gamma honor societies, The Veterans Group, Beyond Str8, Computer Graphics Design Club, the Student Nurses Association, Early Childhood Education Club, Theatre Club, Legal Studies Group, Math and Our Community Club, the  Art Club, Cru, ALANA, the International Club, Campus Activities Team for Students (CATS) and the Philosophy Club.

“The pole serves as a reminder to keep peace in the forefront of our minds,” said Linda Patterson, president of The Green Society and a Natural Resources major. “It was really heartwarming to see how many clubs worked together to make this happen. It was really a beautiful collaboration and a wonderful opportunity to work with so many people.”

The pole, adjacent to the Garrison Center amid a newly created garden, bears the message of peace in English, Spanish, Chinese, German, Arabic, French, Portuguese and Swahili.

Dr. Vincent Ialenti, co-chair of the 50th Anniversary Committee, said the dedication served as a fitting end to the college’s year-long celebration.

The peace pole movement began in Japan in 1995. Since then, more than 200,000 peace poles have been installed around the world, with illustrious figures such as Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama photographed at them.

Tommy Priester and Karen Maguire of Lincoln, MA performed Native American songs of peace, healing, empowerment and transformation accompanied by the beat of a drum. Preschoolers enrolled in the Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education sang “Silver and Gold,” a friendship song.

Patterson, who led the ceremony, thanked Greg Clement, Associate Dean of Students, Sandra Arsenault, Student Activities Program assistant, Alan Cumming, Head of Grounds section, Bill Swift, Director of Maintenance & Mechanical Operations, and the facilities and grounds crew for the installation of the peace pole and garden.

Accounting major Bethany Jones, whose daughter, Natalie, was among the preschoolers, said she was happy to attend the event. In 1999, at age 11, Jones conducted a bottle and can drive as a Girl Scout project. The funds raised were used to install a peace pole at Reingold Elementary School in Fitchburg.

Area lawmakers traveled to Mount Wachusett Community College for a legislative breakfast on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Following the meeting, the North Central Massachusetts delegation presented a resolution congratulating the college on its 50th anniversary.  The resolution notes MWCC’s growth and academic excellence over the past five decades, as well as its leadership in the areas of civic engagement and renewable energy.  MWCC was established in Gardner on Nov. 8, 1963 as one of the first eight of 15 community colleges in Massachusetts.

Pictured from left: Rep. Kimberly Ferguson, R-Holden; Senator Stephen Brewer, D-Barre; Rep. Denise Andrews, D-Orange; Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, D-Gardner; Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel Asquino; Senator James Eldridge, D-Acton; Rep. Stephen DiNatale, D-Fitchburg; Senator Jennifer Flanagan, D-Leominster; and Rep. Dennis Rosa, D-Leominster. Not pictured: Rep. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer; Rep. Jennifer Benson, R-Lunenburg; and Rep. Sheila Harrington, D-Groton.

President Asquino receives an anniversary citation from Senator Stephen Brewer.

As Mount Wachusett Community College’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration comes to a close, the varied events and activities provided an opportunity for members of the college and greater community to reflect on the past, reconnect with classmates and faculty, and make a positive impact on future students.

Signature 50th anniversary events sponsored by the MWCC Foundation throughout the year, including a Presidential Harvest Ball held October 5 at the Chocksett Inn in Sterling, raised more than $120,000 for the foundation’s endowment for student scholarships.

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino thanked the college’s many partners and sponsors for their dedication throughout the anniversary celebration, as well as for their support of the college’s past, present and future initiatives.

During the Harvest Ball, Senator Stephen M. Brewer stopped in to present college officials with a Senate citation congratulating MWCC on its milestone anniversary and positive impact the institution has had on North Central Massachusetts and the state over the past five decades.

“It is our inter-generational responsibility to help level the playing field for all students who show the desire and the talent to obtain the benefits of higher education,” Brewer said.  “Mount Wachusett Community College has been providing these opportunities for 50 years.  The English language has over a million words in it, those of us in public policy ought to single out the special word of ‘opportunity ‘as a beacon of inspiration to those who dream big dreams.”

Trustee Scott Howard, executive vice president of premier sponsor Bemis Associates, provided a celebratory toast. “Here’s to all the students, staff, leaders and supporters of Mount Wachusett Community College for 50 years of work strengthening our community, our country and the world by providing outstanding educational opportunities to all regardless of race, gender or economic situation.  And here’s to the ongoing work to continue expanding our impact for the next 50 years and beyond.”

MWCC’s art department greeted former students during an Oct. 10 alumni art exhibit reception on Oct. 10 in the East Wing Gallery. Pictured, from left, Professors Joyce Miller, Gene Cauthen, Tom Matsuda, department founder Jean Tandy, and John Pacheco.

Other fall events included an alumni art exhibition featuring the artwork of more than 30 graduates and a special alumni showing of the 1960’s themed production of Shout, the Mod Musical at Theatre at the Mount. More than 200 alumni and friends of the college attended the Oct. 10 events.

“It is wonderful to see such a large turnout of MWCC alumni, and friends of the college, here to celebrate our alumni art exhibition and to enjoy a special performance of Shout,” said Carol Jacobson, Associate Director of Alumni Relations.

50th Anniversary Sponsors included premier sponsor Bemis Associates, Inc.; Mr. & Mrs. James Garrison; Scott Howard; MWCC Barnes & Noble Bookstore; The Clementi Family Trust; Data Guide Cable Corporation; Mr. and Mrs. Jay Drake; Enterprise Bank; IC Federal Credit Union; Nypro Foundation; Rollstone Bank & Trust; Advanced Cable Ties, Inc., Athol Savings Bank; Mr. and Mrs. Frank Couvares; Ms. Ellen Daly; Mr. and Mrs. Walter Heath; Simonds International; Workers’ Credit Union; and Gardner Visiting Nurses Association.

Harvest Ball sponsors included premier sponsor Bemis Associates, Inc.; Heywood healthcare, Chocksett Inn; Colonial Hotel; Aubuchon Hardware; GFA Federal Credit Union; Tyco/SimplexGrinnell; HealthAlliance Hospital; Fitchburg State University; Dunkin Donuts; Windmill Florist; Ed Collier Photography; Fidelity Bank; Clinton Hospital; Venning  & Jacques, PC; MASSMedia; Paul DiGeronimo and Katharine Marino; and Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School.

Alumni Art Exhibit. “Ceramic Head” by Chris London.

Mount Wachusett Community College continues its 50th anniversary celebration in October with an alumni art exhibition and a special performance of Shout: The Mod Musical for alumni, students, the college community and friends of the college.

An evening of the arts will take place Thursday, Oct. 10 featuring an alumni reception from 6 to 8 p.m. in the East Wing Gallery and a special performance of Shout at 7 p.m.

Tickets for the Theatre at the Mount performance have been rolled back to the 1960s price of $6. Admission includes the alumni reception, the art exhibit and performance.

Set in the 1960s, Shout tracks five groovy gals as they come of age during the liberating days that made England swing and features chart-topping hits such as “To Sir with Love,” “Downtown,” “You Don’t Have to Say You Love me,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “Goldfinger.” Members of the ensemble cast of include Fatima Elmi, Shani Farrell, Melissa Gates, Alison Laverdiere, Chelsea Young, Katrina Caouette, Amanda Feeley, Amanda Lawton, and Olivia Ryan.

Theatre tickets can be purchased online at mwcc.edu/tam or at the box office, 978-630-9388. Additional performances of Shout will take place through Oct. 13

The art exhibition will include the work of more than 30 alumni of MWCC’s art program and the opportunity to reminisce and reconnect with former professors and classmates.

“During my studies at Mount Wachusett Community College in the early 90’s, I was a painting major and an art history minor,” said Alex Magay, director of the art department at The Winchendon School and a member of the MWCC art department advisory council.

“I studied painting under John Pacheco, Gene Cauthen and Jean Tandy. They provided me as a young artist with direction and insight that would fuel my artistic development, and insight, for many years to come. My experiences in Gardner at the Mount helped prepare me to pursue and complete my next two degrees at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.”



James D. Murphy, first chair of MWCC’s Board of Trustees and talented artist.

As a part of Mount Wachusett Community College’s 50th anniversary celebration, an exhibition of artwork by James D. Murphy, the first chair of the college’s Board of Trustees, will be on display from June 3 through June 7 in the East Wing Gallery of the Raymond LaFontaine Fine Arts Center.

The exhibit will include works in watercolor, oil and pen and ink created throughout his life and also features never before seen watercolors. A reception fundraiser will take place on Thursday, June 6 and will feature live music, hors d’oeuvres and a raffle of an original framed watercolor donated by the Murphy family to raise money toward the James D. Murphy Trustee Scholarship administered through the MWCC Foundation.

“My father would have been deeply honored to know that the Trustee Scholarship will be named after him at the college he served faithfully and loved. Our goal, as his family, is to see that they scholarship is endowed so his legacy will continue,” said MWCC Professor Sheila Murphy.

Murphy graduated from the Vesper George School of Art and the School of the Worcester Art Museum. He was an eclectic artist who worked with watercolors, oils, pen and ink, charcoal, and pastels. He was also a skilled cartoonist and caricaturist and was a member of the prestigious National Cartoonists Society.

Suggested donations to the reception are $25, $50 and $100 to go toward the scholarship. Raffle tickets are $5. For tickets or more information, contact Lois Cox 978-630-9101 or Sheila Murphy 978-630-9331.

Nearly 30 students signed up to learn how to use a potter’s wheel in Art Professor Joyce Miller’s Introduction to Pottery workshops.

More than 300 area residents turned out for Mount Wachusett Community College’s Free College Day on Saturday, April 13, registering for 800-plus seats in 50 workshops led by MWCC faculty and noncredit instructors who volunteered along with other members of the college community.

One of the college’s 50th anniversary celebration events this year, Free College Day featured workshops in a variety of topics including art, math, science, music, automotive technology, computer technology, social media, writing, theater and dance.

Fifty door prizes, including free credit and noncredit classes, Theatre at the Mount tickets, Fitness & Wellness Center memberships, sweatshirts, t-shirts and gift cards were presented to attendees. Jeanne Hollows, a 1969 alumna of the college who works for the Townsend Planning and Land Use Department, said she was thrilled to win another top door prize, an iPad.




AVTT Traveling Wall

Veterans and active members of America’s armed services travel great distances and make great sacrifices to preserve and protect freedom and liberty. How far will you travel to honor their contribution?

The American Veterans Traveling Tribute will bring its Traveling Wall to Mount Wachusett Community College April 10 through 14, in honor of the college’s 50th  anniversary. The Traveling Wall, an 80-percent scale version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., will be escorted on April 10 at 3 p.m. by the Patriot Riders Chapter 3 to Gardner City Hall for a brief ceremony, then proceed to the college soccer field. Events and activities will commence on April 11, beginning at 12:30 p.m. when student veterans dedicate a plaque at the college’s flagpole.

An opening ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. A candlelight vigil will take place April 13 at 6 p.m. A closing ceremony will take place on April 14 at 3 p.m. before the wall is dismantled.

The exhibit is sponsored by MWCC’s student Veterans Group and the college’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, through the generous support of several community sponsors including the Patriot Riders Chapter 3, the VFW Ovila Case Post 905, Vietnam Veterans of America, Montachusett Veteran Outreach Center, Franco-American Vets in Leominster and many other school clubs and outside organizations.

The American Veterans Traveling Tribute is a veteran-owned project committed to travel the nation to honor, respect, and remember men and women who served, and to pay specific tribute to those who gave all in that service. Since the tribute is mobile, it allows people to honor and respect veterans and active military personnel without having to travel great distances to do so.

The AVTT Traveling Wall was completed in 1998 and began traveling that year. Across its 360-foot length, the wall contains every single name etched on the original. At its apex, the memorial is an impressive eight feet tall. AVTT’s Traveling Wall is the largest wall replica traveling the country, and is not to be confused with several other replica walls that also share a mutual mission.

For more information about this event contact Andrew Constant, president of The Veterans Group at aconstant1@mwcc.edu or Kristine Larkin, director of the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, at 978-630-9855 or klarkin@mwcc.mass.edu or visit www.avtt.org.


Community event offers free workshops, door prizes and more in celebration of 50th anniversary

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Mount Wachusett Community College is hosting Free College Day, an event on Saturday, April 13 featuring more than 50 free workshops and classes, 50 door prizes, career and academic resources, tours and other activities.

“In celebration of our 50th anniversary, we are opening our doors for this fun, free event as a way to thank the residents of our greater community who have either shared in our journey over the years or perhaps are just now discovering what Mount Wachusett has to offer,” said college President Daniel M. Asquino, who will be leading a workshop on key ingredients for positive employee/employer relationships.

Faculty and staff from throughout the college are volunteering for the day, offering their expertise in a wide range of topics. The 45-minute workshops and classes, taking place at the Gardner campus, 444 Green Street, include computer technology; tablets and mobile devices; social media; photography; math; science; dual enrollment for teens; art; theatre; dance; music; public speaking; fitness; memoir and poetry writing; free library resources; American Sign Language; a planetarium exhibit; and more. The event is suited for learners ages 12 to adult. In addition, the MWCC Fitness & Wellness Center is offering classes from 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Zumba, Group Power,Group Kick, Group Ride and Group Centergy.

Participants are eligible to enter to win 50 door prizes including an iPad, Theatre at the Mount family pack tickets, Fitness and Wellness Center memberships, free credit and noncredit courses, college sweatshirts, and other items. Free College Day will also feature a resource fair offering information on enrollment, financial aid, veterans’ services, the MWCC Alumni Association, lifelong learning and professional development courses, the LaChance Library, the Fitness and Wellness Center and summer kids’ camps.

“Free College Day is a way for MWCC to give back to the community, bring new people to campus and showcase what we have to offer,” said Professor Gail Steele, co-chair of the 50th anniversary committee.

Advance registration is required, and registrations are now being accepted. Seating in some courses is limited, so participants are advised to register early to reserve a seat. Walk in registration during Free College Day may be accepted as space allows. All participants must check in at the registration table the day of the event to receive classroom locations and door prize tickets.

For a complete list of courses and to register, go to mwcc.edu/50th/freecollegeday ,call 978-630-9525, or stop by the Division of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development, room 163.