Faculty and Staff Stories

State Senator Jennifer Flanagan joined Mount Wachusett Community College’s Center for Civic Engagement and local nonprofits for a workshop on the ongoing, universal transfer of leadership from baby

State Senator Jennifer Flanagan speaks to representatives of local nonprofits during a workshop on the generational transfer of leadership. Senator Flanagan encouraged baby boomers to be mentors to millennials.

State Senator Jennifer Flanagan speaks to representatives of local nonprofits during a workshop on the generational transfer of leadership. Senator Flanagan encouraged baby boomers to be mentors to incoming millennials.

boomers to Generation X and millennials. The Nov. 19 event in MWCC’s North Café was part of Enterprise Bank’s Non-Profit Collaborative and added to the 145 organizations previously trained by the Center.

Led by MWCC Director of Community Learning Shelley Errington Nicholson, the forum also included remarks from President Daniel M. Asquino and Director of Experiential Learning Opportunities and Civic Engagement Fagan Forhan.

To promote smooth leadership transitions and the inclusion of new voices, Nicholson explained the subtle differences between the three generations, including their core values, attributes, work ethics and values, and preferred work environments. Representatives also brainstormed potential strategies for integrating employees from different generations and shared effective methods introduced by their own organizations.

“If we’re going to be fair and provide leadership, we need to structure our environment so that people from different generations and cultures can succeed. This is what we try to do at MWCC,” said President Asquino, who also praised Enterprise Bank for its commitment to civic engagement. “We have to understand the people we work with and how they respond to situations and environments.”

“Baby boomers need to be mentors and help with institutional knowledge,” said Senator Flanagan. “The top people in companies need to be thinking forward – Who’s going to be part of this company in five years?”

Senator Flanagan also referenced the value of her internship under former State Representative Mary Jane Simmons and encouraged attendees to view colleges as “a pool.”

“The dynamic in our office has changed a lot by having student staff,” said Forhan. “It has grounded us in a different way and changed our perspective, and they feel ownership over their decisions.”

“How are you going to know what good customer services looks like if you don’t have those young voices?” said Nicholson. “We all have a dedication to work, but it looks different.”

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DClogoThe American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is spearheading a national effort to engage students in the topic of economic inequality and its impact on democracy through a three-year initiative. Leading the 31 participating institutions in this effort are Mount Wachusett Community College and Keene State College. All participants are members of AASCU’s American Democracy Project (ADP) or The Democracy Commitment (TDC).

Participating institutions will invite students and community members to confront the complex causes of economic inequality through the development of curriculum that will be applied to many areas of study and hands-on learning opportunities. Specifically, students will study the relationship between public policy, economic inequality, economic opportunity, and social mobility. These strategies, including the introduction of a course in economic inequality for students at two- and four-year schools, will be designed for further adoption by campuses across the country.

“AASCU is excited to assemble this group of two- and four-year institutions that together will examine and address the growing economic inequality in this county, a trend that poses a serious threat to our democracy,” remarked George Mehaffy, AASCU’s vice president of academic leadership and change.

MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement and The American Democracy Project at Keene State College will spearhead national efforts, which also promote community outreach, civic pathways for student success, and prepare undergraduates for lives of informed civic engagement. Most activities will take place on participating campuses, with the two lead institutions providing support and networking by hosting national conference calls and webinars.

“We are proud to partner with AASCU, Keene State College, and colleges and universities across the country on this timely initiative,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “More than ever before, our students are graduating into a global society that is stratified across lines of economic class and political ideologies as much as they always have been across issues of gender, culture and religion. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that our students have the opportunity to think critically and creatively about these issues—and discover their own abilities to initiate change in areas of public policy, economic opportunity and inequality, and social mobility,” he said.

MWCC faculty participating in the initiative include Julie Capozzi, Elmer Eubanks, Shane Martin, Yvonne Noyes-Stevens, Maureen Provost, Tom Montagno, Kate Smith, Dan Soucy and Michelle Valois. They will join Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement staff members Fagan Forhan and Shelley Errington Nicholson.

“I am thrilled that Keene State College and MWCC are partnering with AASCU to involve students in discussions and experiences that demonstrate the ways that economic inequality affects our society—this issue is urgent and relevant to every state in our nation. The approach we are taking on this topic leverages critical thinking, community engagement, and academic preparation, which will make a real impact on our students now and in the years to come after graduation,” said Keene State College President, Dr. Anne Huot.

National Network of Participating Schools

In addition to Keene State College, four-year institutions include Buffalo State (SUNY); California State University, Chico; California State University, Monterey Bay; Cleveland State University; Dalton State College (Ga.); Ferris State University (Mich.); Indiana University Northwest; Missouri State University; Northeastern Illinois University; Northern Kentucky University; Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; Salisbury University (Md.); Slippery Rock University (Penn.); St. Cloud State University (Minn.); SUNY Cortland; Texas A&M University-Central Texas; University of Houston Downtown; Weber State University (Utah); Western Carolina University (N.C.); and Wright State University (Ohio).

In addition to MWCC, participating two-year institutions include Allegany College of Maryland; De Anza College (Calif.); Kirkwood Community College (Iowa); Lone Star College, Kingwood (Texas); Manchester Community College (Conn.); Monroe Community College (N.Y.); Moraine Valley Community College (Ill.); Santa Fe College (Fla.); and Tarrant County College, Southeast Campus (Texas).

ADP and TDC, representing four- and two-year schools, respectively, create a variety of civic-engagement and academic-enrichment initiatives that encourage graduates to become informed, engaged participants in our democracy. TDC is modeled after ADP, and both organizations are sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

 

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Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnerships Lea Ann Scales represented MWCC at the 2014 College Access and Success Briefing. Pictured, from left, Bruce Sacerdote, professor of economics at Dartmouth College; Martha Savery, director of public affairs and communications for the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority; Eric Waldo, executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative; Richard M. Freeland, commissioner of Higher Education for Massachusetts; and Scales.

Mount Wachusett Community College Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnerships Lea Ann Scales joined a panel of several higher-education professionals at the 2014 College Access and Success Briefing to discuss pathways for underrepresented students.

Presented by Let’s Get Ready and the National Partnership for Educational Access, this year’s event continued a series of annual discussions promoting solutions to the barriers associated with college completion. The discussion took place Thursday, Nov. 6 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Also participating in the 2014 panel were Richard M. Freeland, commissioner of Higher Education for Massachusetts; Eric Waldo, executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative; Martha Savery, director of public affairs and communications for the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority; and Bruce Sacerdote, professor of economics at Dartmouth College.

Chad d’Entremont, executive director of the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, moderated the three-hour panel discussion.

Mount Wachusett Community College, long recognized nationally for its comprehensive veteran services, has again been named to Military Times’ Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 rankings.

MWCC was ranked seventh nationally among two-year colleges in the Military Times' Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 rankings.

MWCC was ranked seventh nationally among two-year colleges in the Military Times’ Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 rankings.

Released alongside Veterans Day, the independent news project evaluates organizations based on their support systems and campus cultures to provide a reference point for service members, military veterans and their families. In order be considered for the rankings, MWCC and other colleges meticulously documented these services through a survey with over 100 questions.

MWCC was ranked seventh nationally among two-year schools in a list that includes a total of 140 four-year, two-year, online and nontraditional schools. The list will be published in issues of Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, Marine Corps Times and Military Times EDGE magazine, as well as online at MilitaryTimes.com, ArmyTimes.com, NavyTimes.com, AirForceTimes.com and MarineCorpsTimes.com.

“Given this award’s proximity to Veterans Day, we express our collective gratitude to veterans throughout this country, including those we are fortunate to call MWCC students,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “These students strengthen our campus community, and we are proud to provide the services that help them flourish.”

“This is a school whose faculty and staff are genuinely good people who sincerely care about our veteran population,” said Veterans Services Director Robert Mayer. “I can’t express how good it makes me feel to know that, wherever they go on campus, our veterans will be taken care of.”

MWCC launched the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success in 2010 to address the unique academic, financial, social and physical needs of veterans, military personnel and military families transitioning to college life. Student veterans are also active members of the campus community, participating in such clubs and organizations as the Veterans Group and Student Government Association.

In August 2013, MWCC became one of the first 250 higher-education institutions to implement President Obama’s “8 Keys to Success” initiative to help boost academic opportunities and improvement employment outcomes for veterans.

MWCC also maintains community partnerships with the Montachusett Veteran Outreach Center, the Northeast Veteran Training & Rehabilitation Center operated by Veteran Homestead, Inc., the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services’ SAVE program, and local posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

The residential and educational partnership between MWCC and the NVTRC, run on a portion of campus property, served as the focus of a recent segment on WGBY in Springfield.

Daniel M. AsquinoAs we prepare to recognize the service of all the men and women who have served our country, I urge all of you to take the opportunity to reflect on the importance of Veterans Day and the contributions and sacrifices made by millions of Americans. About 350 veterans are currently attending Mount Wachusett Community College, and I am proud of their accomplishments both in service to their country and in our classrooms. I want to thank each of these students for their service.

The majority of these students served their country in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The history of our college has always been closely tied to our veterans. When members of our local Veterans of Foreign Wars post visit us each year to make a contribution to support student scholarships, past commander and MWCC alumnus Don Progen and others remark that when they returned home from Vietnam, they found Mount Wachusett Community College to be, “a haven.”

We strive to continue to be that haven for our veteran students. These students bring great leadership skills to our campus and ultimately to our workforce. They are a tremendous asset to our communities. I am proud that Mount Wachusett Community College has been named for the fifth consecutive year, as a “Top Military School” and is also a designated Yellow Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs. In addition, USA Today has named MWCC as one of its “Best Colleges for Vets” in 2014. Most recently, WGBY in Springfield filmed a segment spotlighting our residential and educational partnership with the Northeast Veteran Training and Rehabilitation Center, run on a portion of campus property by the Fitchburg-based nonprofit Veterans Homestead, Inc. To view this inspiring video, go to http://ow.ly/DOW4r.

If you would like to learn more about our Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, visit mwcc.edu/veteran. I extend my deepest gratitude to our staff in this center and across the campus who work with our student veterans as they pursue their academic goals.

The campus will be closed on Veterans Day as we honor our veterans.  Please take the time for reflection and recognition of our heroes.

Mount Wachusett Community College pre-engineering student Casey Bortle pilots the college’s new drone during a Math Modeling Initiative presentation to 350 area high school seniors.

Mount Wachusett Community College pre-engineering student Casey Bortle pilots the college’s new drone during a Math Modeling Initiative presentation to 350 area high school seniors.

Mount Wachusett Community College lauded the 350 high school students participating in this year’s Math Modeling Initiative and encouraged them to explore the opportunities available through a college education.

As part of the Oct. 29 event, students and teachers from partnering institutions Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Fitchburg High School, Leominster High School and Leominster’s Center for Technical Education Innovation witnessed the unveiling of MWCC’s new quadcopter drone.

Through the initiative, MWCC offers the Modeling in Mathematics course to provide essential skills to high school seniors who require developmental math education. The free course emphasizes complex problem solving and the application of math in everyday life and eliminates the need for students to take remedial mathematics upon entering college.

“I want to congratulate you for getting a head start on your mathematics education and thank the faculty and staff who commit to your welfare,” MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino said during his opening remarks. “Our goal is to help you become college-ready so that you can move on to earn your degrees. Math has traditionally been an impediment to students, but by being college-ready, you will be unique.”

Led by MWCC Professor and Math Department Chair Yoav Elinevsky, educators from MWCC’s Access & Transition and Academic Affairs divisions and LHS developed the initiative as a pilot program in 2012. After 116 LHS seniors initially took one of six Modeling in Mathematics sections, MWCC expanded the initiative for the 2014-2015 academic year to include Monty Tech and Fitchburg High.

“Congratulations on being so close to graduating high school and preparing yourself for college and the job market,” Elinevsky said.

To promote the physics department and the importance of mathematics, faculty member Dr. Peter Olszak and students Adam Suzor and Casey Bortle led a demonstration of the quadcopter drone, which hovered for several minutes while displaying a live video feed.

Dean of Students Jason Zelesky, a first-generation college student, emphasized the importance of a college education as an investment in their future. Recruitment Counselor Natasha Robinson, Career/Vocational Education Transition Counselor Shaunti Phillips and Kijah Gordon, academic advisor for STEM programs, discussed the enrollment process, articulation agreements, and the college’s STEM Set Scholarships and STEM Starter Academy.

In addition, chairs from academic departments, including Dan Donovan from computer information systems, John Little from media arts & technology, and Tom Matsuda from art explained their respective programs. Students from the pilot course encouraged their successors to take advantage of the program and continue their educations after graduating high school.

- Cameron Woodcock

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Shawn Case, Assistant Professor of Math, participates in Department of Higher Education’s #Memo2MA Twitter campaign highlighting the department’s 2014 Vision Project report.

At a time of rising demand for skilled college graduates in the Commonwealth, the Department of Higher Education’s third annual Vision Project report shows progress being made to raise graduation rates and close achievement gaps among public college and university students in Massachusetts, but also projects a shortage of skilled graduates needed to meet the needs of employers in key industry sectors that fuel economic growth, based on an expected drop in the state’s high school population in the coming years. 

“The Vision Project report provides state leaders with a road map that allows us to think and respond proactively to the issues in higher education we will face in the next decade,” said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone.”At the same time it allows us to celebrate achievements by our campuses and by the Patrick Administration. There are many points of progress contained in this report, and I am proud that our public colleges and universities share a vision for the future.”

Mount Wachusett Community College made continued strides during the year in several key areas, including new initiatives in area high schools and on campus to help close achievement gaps, such as a new Modeling in Mathematics program launched in three area high schools to prepare students for college-level math courses; the creation of a new bridge program to assist nontraditional students returning to college; and enhanced student support services for veterans, working parents, and students of all ages seeking degrees and careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Additionally, advances in workforce development include new accelerated training programs in advanced manufacturing, continued partnerships with industry, and the creation of a Manufacturing Workforce Certification Center at its Devens campus.

“In order to enhance college access and student success, we work closely with our regional K-12 school systems, as well as provide robust, student-centered programs and initiatives on campus,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. MWCC’s new FY2015 to FY2017 strategic plan, “Embracing Transformation,” focuses on the college’s four strategic, college-wide goals – Access, Success, Learning, and Progress, and the plan is shaped by the key outcomes of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Vision Project, he said.

“Degrees of Urgency: Why Massachusetts Needs More College Graduates Now,” was released this morning before a group of 275 business and civic leaders gathered at the Boston Foundation.  The report, which can be accessed at http://www.mass.edu/visionproject, outlines system and campus-level achievements aligned with the Vision Project goal of leading nationally among state systems of public higher education.

Among the recent gains:

  • One-third of Massachusetts campuses are now meeting or exceeding the Vision Project goal for improvement in six-year graduation/success rates, increases that are well above the national and leading states’ averages.
  • At the University of Massachusetts and state university campuses, the six-year graduation rate gap between White and Latino/a students has narrowed.
  • At community colleges, the rate of enrollment in remedial coursework among Latino/a students has declined, a sign that collaborative work with high schools to align curriculum and close gaps is working.
  • The focus on workforce planning in high-growth industry sectors is yielding results; as an example, the report cites a 34% increase in nurses with bachelor’s degrees (2010-2013), important because research shows that higher education levels result in improved patient outcomes.
  • Mount Wachusett Community College’s was showcased in the report for being among the institutions that have improved student success rates above the national average, as well as its support for student veterans and military families.
  • MWCC alumnus Bryan Sanderson was featured in an article for his efforts to found the college’s Students Serving Our Service office, a peer-to-peer program that is administered through the college’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

Along with citing progress, the report draws attention to a major challenge facing the Commonwealth: declining enrollments at public colleges and universities at a time when the state’s need for more college-educated workers has never been greater.

The report forecasts that by 2020, the system that now educates 70% of high school students who remain in state to attend college will be under-producing needed graduates by a minimum of 55,000 to 65,000, the result of enrollment declines that stem from a drop in the state’s high school population. Within six years, Massachusetts’ high school population will shrink by 9%, a shift from the previous decade which saw a 31% increase in the number of high school graduates. The prior growth helped fuel record enrollments at Massachusetts’ community colleges, state universities and UMass campuses, a boom which has now ended. This fall the public higher education system posted its first decline in enrollment in a decade.

“Today we put forth a major plan to address the state’s need for more college graduates,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “This is vital work on behalf of the Commonwealth and we understand that we can only deliver the graduates Massachusetts needs if we are improving our overall academic performance, which campuses are striving to do, and if such efforts receive strong state support.”

At outlined by Commissioner Freeland at the Boston Foundation report release event, the “Big Three Completion Plan” to address the state’s need for more graduates focuses on 1) helping more students succeed in and complete college 2) redoubling efforts to close persistent achievement gaps that keep too many African American and Latino/a students from graduating, and 3) attracting and retaining students who are not being served by the system, including those who currently can’t afford to attend college, those who are choosing to attend college out of state, and adult students who need to finish their degrees.

Despite recent investments by the Patrick Administration, decades of insufficient funding to Massachusetts public higher education have resulted in the Commonwealth ranking no better than average (currently, 26th in the nation) in state support for its public colleges and universities. A report released Tuesday by the Commonwealth’s Higher Education Finance Commission recommended that the public campuses receive significant additional funding tied to performance improvement, and that such support also be linked to campus efforts to achieve greater operating efficiencies.

“The particular needs of this state, more than many other states, demand a first class system of public higher education,” said Charles F. Desmond, Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. “If we hope to reap the economic dividends that come from being an educational leader, Massachusetts must make academic excellence at its public colleges and universities an even higher priority than it is right now.”

“There is clear consensus, Massachusetts must have a national top tier public higher education system to compete in our 21st century economy,” said the Co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, Representative Tom Sannicandro (D-Ashland.) “This means greater efficiency and collaboration on the part of our higher education institutions, and strategic investment on par with the states that lead the way in public higher education nationally. This effort will require support from every resident of our Commonwealth. We understand what must be done, and today we affirm the need to act.”

MWCC faculty, staff and alumni gathered at the summit of Wachusett Mountain after completing the five-mile hike. Participants raised funds to supper the college's Humanities Project.

MWCC faculty, staff and alumni gathered at the summit of Wachusett Mountain after completing the five-mile hike. Participants raised over $5,000 to support the college’s Humanities Project.

With President Daniel M. Asquino leading the way to the summit of Wachusett Mountain, Mount Wachusett Community College began an annual tradition on the mild morning of Saturday, Oct. 18.

In the first “Hike for the Humanities” fundraiser, a group of MWCC faculty, staff and alumni simulated Henry David Thoreau’s 1842 hike of Wachusett Mountain, collectively raising over $5,000 for the college’s Humanities Project.

Under the leadership of English Professor Michelle Valois and Director of Grant Development Heather Layton, MWCC received a $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) challenge grant to strengthen its humanities curriculum through the interdisciplinary project. The first-year theme, “East Meets West in a Cabin in the Woods: Walden and Beyond,” based on Thoreau’s 1854 classic, is being integrated into MWCC courses and community events.

“This is a great day for our college. The turnout speaks volumes about the commitment of our faculty and staff, who were more than willing to support a good cause and a singular purpose,” said President Asquino, the first to complete the five-mile Pine Hill Trail. “We plan to hold this fundraising hike annually for the duration of the Humanities Project to support continued enrichment opportunities for our students and members of the community.”

As the NEH will match all funds raised by 50 percent, MWCC will receive an additional $2,500, adding to its previous total of $225,000.

“The fundraising aspect is important, but this hike goes beyond supporting the Humanities Project,” said Valois, who coordinated the event and initially proposed hiking Wachusett Mountain. “Just as important is the opportunity to build morale among faculty from multiple academic disciplines in a natural and extended-office setting. We very much wanted to capture the spirit of Thoreau, and of course everyone loves to hike.”

“We pursued an NEH grant to engage faculty, staff and students, and this hike, coupled with the four other events to this point, has been exactly what we envisioned,” said Layton. “Through this event to jump-start the Humanities Project, we also hope to communicate to donors that our own staff is thoroughly invested in this initiative.”

Thoreau was selected as the initial focus of the Humanities Project due in part to his affinity for Wachusett Mountain, which he developed through a noteworthy 1842 expedition. Thoreau and his companion, Richard Fuller, walked 34 miles from Concord to the mountain’s summit, moving him to pen the essay “A Walk to Wachusett.”

As MWCC continues its slate of free community events, professors from the disciplines of English, biology, business administration, nursing, sociology, graphic design, early childhood education, photography and math are engaging students in Thoreau-themed activities.

Echoing some of Valois’ sentiments, Associate Professor of Math Festus Kiprono said faculty participants in the hike are simultaneously supporting a “very worthy cause” and promoting “camaraderie and togetherness” across several academic disciplines.

“As a math professor, I felt it was important to participate because this is an interdisciplinary project that helps us provide students with a well-rounded education.” Having scaled Mount Monadnock several times, Kiprono also recognized the hike for its fitness benefits.

Beginning next week, the MWCC Humanities project continues with five additional events during the fall semester. These events include two book discussions of Thoreau-inspired books, a performance by a Thoreau re-enactor, lecture by the executive director of the Thoreau Society, and final student presentations and exhibits.

For a full schedule of events, visit http://mwcc.edu/humanitiesproject.

MWCC received 10 Medallion Awards at the NCMPR's fall conference, including a gold Medallion Award for its HIREed magazine.

MWCC received 10 Medallion Awards at the NCMPR’s fall conference, including a gold Medallion Award for its HIREed magazine.

The National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, District 1, has awarded 10 Medallion Awards for excellence in communications to Mount Wachusett Community College. The awards were announced during the District 1 fall conference on Oct. 13 in National Harbor, MD.

MWCC’s Marketing and Communications division received three gold Medallion Awards for a series of four animated recruitment videos, cluster brochures detailing all program offerings, and its HIREed Magazine. These submissions corresponded to the award categories of College Promotional Video, Brochure/Flyer Series, and Magazine respectively.

NCMPR recognized MWCC with five silver Medallion Awards: In the Microsite category for the landing page featuring the animated recruitment videos; in the Direct Mail Campaign category for an enrollment mailer; in the Print Advertisement Series category for the fall campaign newspaper ads; in the Nifty and Thrifty category for program sheets showcasing individual departments; and in the Annual Report category for its 50th Anniversary President’s Report.

The college additionally collected two bronze Medallion Awards, one in the Television/PSA/Advertisement category for a spot promoting dual enrollment at MWCC and another in the Brochure/Flyer category for a collateral piece outlining the steps to enroll.

During the conference, Coordinator of College Graphics Briana Nobrega presented on the division’s self-serve marketing tool kit to enhance productivity, and Public Relations Director Janice O’Connor served on the conference program committee.

NCMPR’s District 1 encompasses community colleges in the eastern U.S. from Maine to the District of Columbia, as well as the maritime provinces of Canada and the United Kingdom. An affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges, the NCMPR is the only organization of its kind that exclusively represents marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges.

(Photo courtesy of Mapping Thoreau Country)

(Photo courtesy of Mapping Thoreau Country).

In a show of college-wide support for the MWCC Humanities Project, faculty, staff and students will walk in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau to the summit of Wachusett Mountain, a spot the noted author and philosopher once labeled “the observatory of the state.”

Participants in the first “Hike for the Humanities” fundraiser on Saturday Oct. 18 collectively aim to raise $6,000 for the Humanities Project and corresponding $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant. Hikers will each raise a minimum of $200 toward the $6,000-goal, with the NEH matching all funds by 50 percent.

Participants will walk either the rigorous, five-mile route taken by Thoreau or a more moderate two-mile path.

Through this grant, MWCC has implemented an ongoing humanities initiative, both on campus and in the community, beginning with this year’s theme, “East Meets West in a Cabin in the Woods: Walden and Beyond.” Thoreau was selected as the initial focus of the Humanities Project due in part to his affinity for Wachusett Mountain, which he developed through a noteworthy 1842 expedition. Thoreau and his companion, Richard Fuller, walked 34 miles from Concord to the mountain’s summit, moving him to pen the essay “A Walk to Wachusett.”

Participating hikers include President Daniel Asquino, Susan Blake, Greg Clement, Lorie Donahue, Susan Goldstein, Festus Kiprono, Heather Layton, Caela Kathy Panagiotes, Provost, Kara Roche, LeaAnn Scales, Madhu Sharma, Brenda Shelling-Biggs, Michelle Valois, David Wyman and Carla Zottoli.

To make a donation, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/mwcchike, click “donate to a fundraiser” and select a team participant.