Faculty and Staff Stories

asquino-dedication-2Clouds and rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of those who joined Mount Wachusett Community College for a celebration of students, innovation, leadership, and progress. With over 150 guests including Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone in attendance with Mount Wachusett Community College staff, faculty, students, trustees, alumni, elected officials, honored guests and community members, the official ribbon was cut on the new Dr. Daniel M. Asquino Science Center, a state-of-the-art 44,000 square-foot addition to the Gardner campus.

In recognition of President Asquino’s 30 years of leadership at Mount Wachusett Community College, the dedication included remarks from a host of lawmakers, students, and colleagues filled with gratitude and well wishes for the so on to retire leader, a science themed DNA strand ribbon cutting at the entrance and the unveiling of the name of the building to a sparkling cider toast to complete the celebration.

The day’s honored guests included the Honorable Mark Hawke, Mayor of Gardner; the Honorable Karyn Polito, Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Commissioner Carol Gladstone, Commissioner of the Division of Capital Asset Management & Maintenance; the Honorable Anne Gobi, Massachusetts State Senator; the Honorable Stephen Brewer, Massachusetts State Senator; the Honorable Stephen Hay, Massachusetts State Representative; the Honorable Kimberly Ferguson, Massachusetts State Representative; the Honorable Jennifer Benson, Massachusetts State Representative; the Honorable Jonathan Zlotnik, Massachusetts State Representative; the Honorable Stephen DiNatale, Mayor of Fitchburg; the Honorable Dean Mazzarella, Mayor of Leominster; the Honorable Lew Evangelidis, Worcester County Sheriff; MWCC students Ifra Hassan, Josiah Irfan and Liam Scanlon; Tina Sbrega, Chair of the Mount Wachusett Community College Board of Trustees; past and current college and foundation board members; Fitchburg State University President Richard Lapidus; Fitchburg State University President Emeritus Robert Antonucci; Berkshire Community College President Ellen Kennedy; presidents of the area chambers of commerce; Dr. Asquino’s family; and past and present college staff, faculty, and students.

asquino-dedication-3“President Asquino has built deep and meaningful partnerships that have resulted in a college that is extremely relevant and connected to the students and community it serves. Dr. Asquino has been driven by the belief that education is society’s great equalizer and has transformed this college into what you see here today. His legacy will pay dividends for our students and our communities for years to come,” said Tina Sbrega, Chair of the MWCC Board of Trustees.

Dr. Daniel M. Asquino has served as President of Mount Wachusett Community College since August 1987 and is currently the longest-serving public higher education president in Massachusetts.

“This is about access to quality higher education and opportunities for all. It is about the economic and workforce development of this region, the Commonwealth and our nation. It is about equality and diversity,” reflected President Daniel M. Asquino, speaking about the long planning and construction process culminating in this dedication. “These new Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Microbiology, Earth Science and Physics Labs will replace 45 year old labs which were showing their age. These new spaces which rival those found even in the best elite universities – all combined with our outstanding faculty – allow us to continue a tradition of service and excellence.”
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The event would not have been complete without students telling the story of the college through their own perspectives and experiences. Student speakers included Josiah Irfan, who attended Fitchburg High School, and then began at MWCC through the STEM Starter Academy summer program. He discovered his love for computer engineering and hopes to go on the UMass Amherst after completing his Computer Information Science degree at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Liam Scanlon, of Princeton, decided to attend Mount Wachusett Community College as a smart economic decision after having a positive experience with the STEM Starter Academy. He plans to pursue engineering or physics after completing his degree in Liberal Arts.
Ifra Hassan studies Biology at Mount Wachusett Community College and is also a STEM Starter Academy graduate. She recently traveled to NASA headquarters to participate in a scholarship program utilizing Mars rover replicas and hopes to attend Brown University after completing her degree at MWCC.

Mr. Irfan, Ms. Hassan, and Mr. Scanlon all have the opportunity to complete coursework in the Dr. Daniel M. Asquino Science Center and work towards their educational goals in new classrooms on cutting edge technology and lab equipment.

They were joined by several other outstanding MWCC student leaders including Student Trustee Jasson Alvarado Gomez who also serves on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and the Massachusetts State College Building Authority and Student Government Association President Faith Kurtz.

“Through science classes at Mount Wachusett Community College I discovered my great passion for Biology. Now, I plan on becoming a doctor and that wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing program here at MWCC,” said Ms. Hassan in her remarks to the capacity crowd.

After more than 18 months of construction and extensive renovations, the anxiously awaited opening of the new science center went off without a hitch as guests enjoyed conversations with student ambassadors, faculty, and staff while touring the new facilities. In addition to the 44,000 square-foot Science Center wing, tours had a clear view of the new 2,300-square-foot greenhouse and renovations throughout the existing Arthur F. Haley Academic Center.
Many construction milestones were celebrated along the way leading up to this momentous day in the 50 year history of the college. On August 11, 2015, the centuries-old tradition of a beam signing was observed to commemorate the completion of the structural phase of a building. During the ceremony, President Daniel Asquino, students, staff, college, community leaders and members of the construction team signed the steel beam that was placed as the uppermost beam as the new building began to take shape overlooking Green Street.

Designed by Boston-based Architerra, Inc. to meet LEED Gold certification for efficiency and sustainability, the new building contains energy-efficient features reinforcing the college’s commitment to sustainability. Over the past 15 years, MWCC has been the recipient of top state and national sustainability awards, including the American Association of College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Wildlife Federation. Shawmut Design & Construction, also based in Boston, acted as construction manager.

MWCC received $37.9 million in state capital funds for the project, as well as a $500,000 grant from Massachusetts Life Sciences for laboratory equipment. The project completed on-time and on-budget.

For more information about the college’s commitment to students, sustainability, and Dr. Daniel M. Asquino’s legacy, please visit mwcc.edu.

The National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) District One Conference was held from Sunday, November 6 through Tuesday, November 8, 2016 in Newport, Rhode Island continuing its annual tradition of professional development, networking, and recognition of outstanding achievement in marketing, public relations and communications with a Medallion Awards Dinner.

The Mount Wachusett Community College Division of Marketing and Communications was recognized with Gold Medallions at the award dinner on Monday evening in the Booklet category for its accepted student booklet and the Nifty and Thrifty category for its fall enrollment mailer. A Silver Medallion was awarded in the Novelty Campaign category for the #LevelUp enrollment campaign. Bronze Medallions were won in the Direct Mail Campaign category for a series of Fitness & Wellness Center mailers, and in the Outdoor Media category for a transfer billboard.

“We are humbled to be recognized by a group of our peers at other community colleges across the district. All these projects were a team effort and we are all proud of the work we’ve accomplished on behalf of Mount Wachusett Community College,” said Sarah McMaster, Director of Marketing and New Media at MWCC.
The Medallion Awards are judged by a group of volunteer judges working in higher education across NCMPR District One in 46 categories spanning original photography and logo design to annual reports and marketing campaigns.

To learn more about the work of the MWCC Marketing and Communications Division, please visit mwcc.edu/marketing. More information about NCMPR and the Medallion Awards can be found at www.ncmpr.org/districts/D1-Med.

As Veterans Day approaches, Mount Wachusett Community College proudly continues serving veteran students, validated with additional recognition as a military friendly institution by the 2017 Military Friendly® School designation. Just last week, the college also ranked number four across the country in the Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 rankings for 2-year colleges conducted by Military Times.

First published in 2009, the Military Friendly® Schools designation is determined by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs®, STEM Jobs SM , and Military Spouse. Each year, the list of Military Friendly® Schools

Military Friendly Designation for Mount Wachusett Community College, 2017

Military Friendly Designation for Mount Wachusett Community College, 2017

is provided to service members and their families, helping them select the best college, university, or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career.

Mount Wachusett Community College offers veteran students and their families access to a veteran center with comprehensive services, computers and study space, and dedicated space to spend time with their peers and other veteran students. Other services include textbook loans, counseling, and assistance with benefits. A full-time Director of Veteran Services advocates for veteran students, educates college staff and faculty on veteran challenges, arranges for clinical meetings if necessary, and provides access to outside resources such as VA VITAL, the Montachusett Veteran Outreach Center, and telehealth services with the VA in Bedford.

Institutions earning the Military Friendly® School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from Victory Media’s proprietary survey. More than 1,600 schools participated in the 2017 survey; 1,160 were awarded with the designation. Ratings methodology, criteria, and weightings were determined by Victory Media with input from the Military Friendly® Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher education and military recruitment community.

Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for Student Retention, Graduation, Job Placement, Loan Repayment, Persistence (Degree Advancement or Transfer) and Loan Default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

“Mount Wachusett has a long tradition of being a Military Friendly institution. This requires a commitment from all departments and personnel to learn about and support military connected students in their pursuit of new opportunities. It is a privilege to work at a community college that is so compassionate and supportive of our student veterans” said Robert Mayer, Director of Veteran Services at MWCC.

According to Daniel Nichols, a Navy Reserve veteran and Chief Product Officer at Victory Media, “Our ability to apply a clear, consistent standard to the majority of colleges gives veterans a comprehensive view of which schools are striving to provide the best opportunities and conditions for our nation’s student veterans. Military Friendly® helps military families make the best use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other federal benefits while allowing us to further our goal of assisting them in finding success in their chosen career fields.”

For more information about Mount Wachusett Community College’s commitment to military students, visit mwcc.edu/veteran. Mount Wachusett Community College will be showcased along with other 2017 Military Friendly® Schools in the annual Guide to Military Friendly® Schools, special education issues of G.I. Jobs ® and Military Spouse Magazine, and on militaryfriendly.com.

mwcc-vet-student-breakfastOur campus will be closed tomorrow in recognition of Veterans Day. Please take the time for reflection and recognition of all the men and women who serve and have served our great country. I am grateful that so many veterans have found a home here at Mount Wachusett Community College. More than 250 students, faculty and staff are veterans. I was honored to gather with a group of student, faculty and staff veterans this week for our annual breakfast and was impressed, as I always am, by all that they contribute to our campus.

We strive to continue to offer excellence in education and opportunity for all or our veteran students. I am proud that Mount Wachusett Community College has been named for the seventh consecutive year as a “Top Military School.” In addition, Military Times has designated MWCC a “Best for Vets” college for seven years. We have been in the top ten of those rankings every year. This year MWCC was ranked #4. If you would like to learn more about the MWCC 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.

Mount Wachusett Community College ranked number four across the country in the Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 rankings for 2-year colleges conducted by Military Times, an independent news and information source for service members and their families. MWCC, continuing its long-held commitment to veterans and their families, moved up two spots from its 2016 rank.

The eighth annual rankings factor in the results of Military Times’ comprehensive school-by-school survey of veteran and military student offerings and rates of academic achievement. More than 500 colleges took part in this year’s detailed survey.

MWCC launched its 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. The dedicated veteran center offers computer access, free printing, student meeting and study space, and opportunities for veteran students to talk and connect with other like-minded individuals. Textbooks and laptops are loaned at no charge.

The Director of Veteran Services is a full-time advocate for veteran students. He educates the college staff and faculty on veteran challenges, counsels students and arranges for clinical meetings if necessary.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as a top military-friendly school. This reflects the positive, helpful attitude that students can expect from all departments of the college. We pride ourselves on being student friendly, so it is a natural extension for us to be military friendly as well,” said Robert B. Mayer, Director of Veterans Services at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Student veterans are active members of the campus community, participating in such clubs and organizations as the Veterans Group and Student Government Association.

“As a veteran myself, I am proud that Mount Wachusett Community College receives continuing recognition as one of the top colleges for veteran students,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “MWCC has served our region’s veterans for decades and will continue to do so into the future by providing them with a robust network of support both on campus and with key partner organizations.”

MWCC 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.

Military Times’ annual Best for Vets: Colleges survey asks colleges and universities to meticulously document a tremendous array of services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to students with military ties; and to describe many aspects of veteran culture on a campus. These institutions were evaluated in several categories, with university culture and academic outcomes bearing the most weight.
“We limit our list to encourage competition, and we genuinely hope this helps raise the bar for veterans on campus,” said Amanda Miller, editor of Best for Vets.

Military Times also factors in data from the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments, as well as three Education Department sources: the IPEDS Data Center, College Scorecard data and the Cohort Default Rate Database.

The rankings appear online at MilitaryTimes.com, as well as ArmyTimes.com, NavyTimes.com, AirForceTimes.com and MarineCorpsTimes.com and in a special magazine issue of Military Times in mid-November. The release of this year’s list also marks Military Times’ inaugural declaration of the month of November as Veterans Month.

For more information about MWCC’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, please visit: mwcc.edu/veteran.
To view the full Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 rankings and survey methodology go to: www.militarytimes.com/bestforvets-colleges2017.

New lab classrooms in Asquino Science CenterMount Wachusett Community College students, faculty and staff; Massachusetts leaders; and the greater community will dedicate the new Dr. Daniel M. Asquino Science Center in recognition of President Asquino’s 30 years of leadership at Mount Wachusett Community College at a ceremony on Tuesday, November 15 at 2 pm.
The public opening of the new building, a state-of-the-art addition to the Gardner campus, will be commemorated with a speaking program including Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone, as well as a ceremonial ribbon cutting, unveiling of the naming of the building, and tours of the new facilities.

Along with honored guests, college staff, faculty, students, trustees, alumni, and community members will be in attendance.

“This new Science Center offers real opportunity for our students,” said Mount Wachusett Community College Board of Trustees Chair Tina Sbrega. “Opportunity is something President Asquino has relentlessly pursued throughout his 30 years at the helm of this great college. Our students will be better prepared to be tomorrow’s leaders. We are all so proud to recognize President Asquino’s commitment to students and our college by naming this building in his honor.”

Following more than a year of construction and extensive renovations, the new science center replaces existing laboratories nearly a half-century old and will enhance the learning environment for all students, particularly those seeking careers in STEM fields.

The Dr. Daniel M. Asquino Science Center includes LEED Gold rated labs, classrooms, and student study space for the college’s continued pursuit of academic excellence.

The $41 million project includes the 44,000 square-foot science center, a new 2,300 square-foot greenhouse and renovations throughout the existing Arthur F. Haley Academic Center. MWCC received $37.9 million in state capital funds for the project, as well as a $500,000 grant from Massachusetts Life Sciences for laboratory equipment.

From an economic standpoint, this is the largest construction project in North Central Massachusetts, which in itself helps boost the region’s economy by providing work for Massachusetts businesses and bringing more traffic to local businesses and service providers. Additionally, the project was completed on-time and on-budget.

Designed by Boston-based Architerra, Inc. to meet LEED Gold certification for efficiency and sustainability, the new building will contain energy-efficient features to tie in with the college’s commitment to sustainability. Construction began in spring 2015. Shawmut Design & Construction, also based in Boston, oversaw the 18-month project as construction manager.

Over the past 15 years, MWCC has been the recipient of top state and national sustainability awards, including the American Association of College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Wildlife Federation.

Amenities in the new building include eight new classrooms and laboratories, four lab prep rooms, 24 new faculty offices, student study space and interior glass walls to highlight STEM student innovation. Renovations to the Haley Academic Center include a new visitor entrance, a multi-purpose room, an academic advising suite, a refurbished student-centered campus commons and increased accessibility to the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center.

Immediately following the dedication, Mount Wachusett Community College is hosting an Open House from 3:30 to 7pm. The public, past MWCC staff and faculty, and all community partners are encouraged and invited to attend. For more information, please contact Lois Cox at 978-630-9101.

The Mount Wachusett Community College East Wing Gallery will open two new art exhibitions by local artists Jesse Connor and Tracie Pouliot on October 17. An opening reception will be held on Friday, November 4 from 4:30 to 7 PM and will feature talks by each artist as well as an opportunity to tour the gallery.

Artist Jesse Connor’s exhibition entitled “Far Reaches” includes large scale paintings that borrow from close observation of settings, houses or nature with unusual emotionally charged interpretations of color. Connor lives in western Massachusetts, teaches painting at MWCC and is an active, highly respected artist with many recent exhibitions across the state. He is a dedicated teacher and artist working in acrylic and oils.

Work from “Far Reaches” by Jesse Connor

Work from “Far Reaches” by Jesse Connor

Artist Tracie Pouliot’s exhibition entitled “Oral History Book Series: Chair City Community Workshop” is based on the lives of 14 workers in the last furniture manufacturer in Gardner. Pouliot is a local artist who opened a grant-funded community art center in Gardner to complete the book series project. She first took printmaking in the MWCC Teen Art summer program and fell in love with it. Pouliot then went on to get her bachelor’s degree in printmaking and a Master’s degree in Community Art /Public art before returning to the area as a new adjunct faculty member in the art department, teaching printmaking. Her exhibition was orchestrated in conjunction with a National Endowment for Humanities grant.

Work from “Oral History Book Series: Chair City Community Workshop” by Tracie Pouliot

Work from “Oral History Book Series: Chair City Community Workshop” by Tracie Pouliot

All are welcome to visit the gallery, attend the reception and participate in the free gallery talks. The East Wing Gallery, housed in the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center on the Gardner Campus, is open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 pm. The Gallery will be closed on November 11 in observance of Veterans Day.

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Photo by Eddie Vargas

A group of nearly 200 enthusiastic volunteers at Mount Wachusett Community College worked in shifts throughout the day to more than double last year’s efforts to combat hunger in the region.

Through the college’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, students, faculty and staff teamed up in assembly lines to package 46,872 meals to serve families in need. The meals were distributed in the afternoon to food pantries and veterans centers in North Central Massachusetts.

The college became a Day of Caring host site in 2013, following years of participation in off-campus activities, and the event continues to grow each year, said Jana Murphy, a Liberal Arts & Sciences major who spearheaded this year’s packaging event in her role as this year’s Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA.

MWCC participated along with numerous other organizations in North Central Massachusetts, recognizing the 21st annual United Way Day of Caring.

Outreach, Inc., an Iowa-based nonprofit that also operates in the Northeast, provided supplies to create packages of meals consisting of macaroni and cheese and rice and beans.

MWCC President Daniel M AsquinoIt hardly seems possible that three decades have passed since I first arrived at Mount Wachusett Community College. Yet a look back at the many innovative programs, initiatives and events that have transpired provides proof that we, as a college community, have not only grown, but are blazing a trail into the future.

Over the past 18 months we have witnessed the transformation of our main campus in Gardner, with the addition of our new, 44,000-square-foot science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) building, as well as extensive renovations to the Haley Academic Center and Theatre at the Mount. This week we began the academic year welcoming students into our new advising center, refurbished dining areas and ample gathering places.

Our state-of-the-art science and technology building will well serve our future medical professionals, engineers, research scientists and others working in the STEM fields, as well as provide enhanced academic opportunities for students of all majors. In the coming weeks, faculty and students will move into the new classrooms and laboratory spaces, and we look forward to welcoming the greater community to tour our new facilities during an open house this fall.

In addition to unveiling our campus upgrades, we begin this academic year with several new transfer opportunities and new courses of study, including new certificate programs in substance abuse counseling, community health, and public relations, which are designed to meet employers’ needs in our region.

The year ahead also provides many community-focused events, from exhibits in our East Wing Gallery to theatre performances and informative presentations. We’ll also begin the third year of the MWCC Humanities Project. Funded through a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, events and activities will take place on campus and in the community with an artistic focus on the theme, “Imagining Work.”

I encourage members of our college community and the greater community to join us in celebrating another new year of innovation.

 

 

"Resurrection" Oil on linen painting by John Pacheco

“Resurrection,” oil on linen painting by John Pacheco is among the works on display in MWCC’s East Wing Gallery through Oct. 4.

An exhibition of recent abstract paintings by Mount Wachusett Community College Professor John Pacheco is on display in the college’s East Wing Gallery through October 4.

Pacheco’s work is influenced by abstract expressionists and artists that saw spiritualism in the process of painting and the contemplation of color and abstraction.

“Painting abstractly, I can compose using color in ways that my previous attachment to figuration wouldn’t permit. The paintings exist like a piece of music – evocative rather than specific,” Pacheco said about the collection. Titles, such as “Caveman,” “Day at the Beach,” “Resurrection” and “Koi Pond” compensate for the lack of narrative, he said.

Born in Cambridge in 1949, Pacheco earned his MFA in painting from Boston University and a BA from Yale College for studio art. He began his career at MWCC in 1980 and served as Director of the East Wing Gallery from 2004 to 2015. He retired from full-time teaching in 2015, and continues to teach at MWCC as an adjunct instructor.

MWCC’s art department offers art majors and non-majors a comprehensive program that includes painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics and printmaking. Faculty, all of whom are working professional artists, actively assist students with developing transfer portfolios, college applications and scholarships, and teach basic digital tools required for success. Small classes lead to a close-knit, active and inspired community.

The associate degree in art is a cost effective way to begin a college degree and prepares an art major for transfer to four-year programs at colleges and universities, said Department Chair Thomas Matsuda. Graduates have successfully transferred to Massachusetts College of Art and Design, University of Massachusetts, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Montserrat College of Art, Maine College of Art, Boston University, Pratt Institute, and others.

The associate degree in art includes the core general requirements for state programs giving the flexibility to transfer into other degrees, and by substituting designated courses it will align with MassTransfer. The college also offers a liberal arts degree with an art concentration that allows students to minor in art.

Comprehensive studios include large gas and electric kilns and an outdoor ceramic firing area, bronze casting, and printing presses. Just outside the studios is the East Wing Gallery. which hosts annual student exhibitions, alumni and professional art exhibitions and houses the permanent collection of student work purchased by the college.

A student organized art club raises funds or trips to local galleries, museums and an annual bus trip to New York City. Students gain practical experience in their field through service learning and volunteer opportunities.

MWCC’s art department is an integral part of the college and community, offering free gallery talks, an artist lectures series, open figure drawing sessions, art student lectures, high school art teacher workshops and a summer youth art program. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.