General News

092011ecMWCC_FALLWith the start of 2015, we continue a transformational era at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Just a few years ago, we reached a pinnacle of our renewable energy portfolio with the construction and activation of two wind turbines that together are meeting all of the electricity demand on our Gardner campus. Wind energy followed on the heels of a biomass heating system, solar-powered hot water and significant conservation measures, and within a decade our college transformed from a costly energy consumer to a nationally and state recognized leader in cost-effective sustainability.

This spring, we eagerly anticipate breaking ground on our new $40 million science and technology building, which will allow us to continue growing our science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs. Coupled with innovative, new STEM courses, generous scholarship opportunities and seamless degree transfer pathways, students are benefiting from a quality, more affordable academic foundation leading into high-growth career sectors.

As exciting as new construction is, there is more than a physical transformation underway at MWCC.

With each community service learning project, act of volunteerism, and civic-building activity performed by our students, our positive impact on the cities and towns in North Central Massachusetts, the commonwealth, and our country expands.

Our students, faculty and staff who continually seek new and greater ways to meet the real needs of real people and real organizations within our communities and our world, are key to this transformation. In fact, their endeavors, guided by our outstanding Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement team, have placed MWCC on the national map as a leader in this growing movement  in higher education. We recently earned continued standing on the prestigious Civic Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and on the President’s National Higher Education Honor Roll for Civic Engagement.

During the last academic year, more than 144,000 hours were devoted to service learning, internships, practicums and volunteerism, representing a dollar value to our communities of $3.5 million. Consider the difference that has made on the lives of countless individuals and nonprofit organizations within our area! Now image what things would be like today without the involvement of our engaged faculty and our students, who carry these experiences and values with them after graduation.

Our student support services and program delivery have also transformed to meet the needs of 21st century learners, from veterans and military families, to students of all ages seeking creative, tailored solutions to traditional academic paths, to the companies and industries seeking skilled workers to grow their businesses.

In recent weeks, the strength of community colleges like MWCC again gained national attention with President Obama’s proposal to make community colleges free to students who maintain good grades and stay on track to graduate within three years. The America’s College Promise proposal emphasizes the need to transform national education priorities to avoid a critical shortage of college-educated citizens in comparison to other world leaders, by creating a free K-14 system as the new norm.

Through our long-standing partnerships with area K-12 school districts, are already making tremendous progress in this regard. In a newly released report, the Rennie Center highlights our Gateway to College, Pathways Early College Innovation School, Robinson-Broadhurst Career Tech and other dual enrollment opportunities for their success preparing more teens for rigorous college-level work while still in high school.

While the details and implementation of the President’s proposal remain a matter of national debate, the proposal again raises greater awareness to the major role community colleges play in the economic vitality of our country, and in the investment we as a nation must make in the people who shape our communities.

james baldwin

James Baldwin

Black History Month is observed as a remembrance of important people and events in the history of African Americans. In recognition, MWCC will host several events in February at its Gardner campus. All events, sponsored by the office of Student Life, are free and open to the public.The series of events begins with the screening of “James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket,” on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 12:30 p.m. in the North Café. Director Karen Thorsen will attend the event and host a discussion following the film and a light lunch will be served.

Baldwin, a major 20th century American author and a Civil Rights activist, called upon Americans, black and white, to confront their shared racial tragedy. The film captures the passionate intellect and courageous writing a man who was born black, impoverished, gay and gifted.

The series continues with the film “Standing on my Sisters’ Shoulders,” on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 12:30 p.m. in the North Café. This award-winning documentary tells the story of three Mississippi who walked into the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D. C. in 1965 to seek their civil rights. These legends give their firsthand testimony and capture a piece of history that is often overlooked in history books. Their achievements go beyond the cotton fields of Mississippi or even the coast of American of Black History Month.

The Bamidele Dancers and Drummers will perform on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 12:30 p.m. in the south café. The BDD are art educators, composers, musicians, dancers and choreographers from Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean who are dedicated to the preservation of African and African rooted cultures through dance, music and song. Members have expertise in African, Caribbean and Brazilian culture.

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Dean Janice Barney and Auto Tech Department Chair Professor Peter Kaufmann

Mount Wachusett Community College’s Automotive Technology programs have received continued accreditation from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation in the areas of instruction, course of study, facilities and equipment, and has met the standards of quality for the training of automobile technicians.

MWCC offers an automotive technology academic certificate and an associate degree to prepare graduates for positions in transportation-related industries. Professor Peter Kaufmann was the program’s first instructor when it launched in 1979 and is now the program chair.

“We are so grateful to Peter for his many years of dedicated service, which have benefited all of our students in the Auto Technology program,” said Janice Barney, Dean of the School of Business, Science and Technology and Mathematics.

 

MWCC Dental Programs 10 year celebration group photo

President Asquino, former Trustee Ellen Daly, outgoing Dental Education Programs Director Anne Malkasian and new chair Cynthia Cadoret are joined by students and alumni at the anniversary celebration.

Mount Wachusett Community College administrators, faculty, students and alumni joined representatives from North Central Massachusetts dental and medical community to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the college’s dental education programs. The event, held Jan. 22 at the programs’ new academic site, the Fitchburg Family Community Health Center, featured a reception, tours of the new facility, student presentations and refreshments.

President Daniel M. Asquino praised the college’s dental education programs as a model among the state’s community colleges for their clinical partnership with the Community Health Center to serve area residents who otherwise would not have access to dental care.

“There is no program like this, where students get the kind of exposure and experience they get at Mount Wachusett,” he said.

The college launched its dental hygiene program in 2005 following an outpouring of generosity from the dental community who saw a healthcare need and partnered with the college to address it, Asquino said. The part-time dental assisting program began in 2012. “It’s a model partnership where dentists and the dental community got some grants and we started the program for the community.”

To date, the programs have celebrated the academic success of 113 graduates. Alumni representing each graduating class from 2007 to 2014 attended the event, along with current students.

The event also recognized the decade-long leadership of Program Director Anne Malkasian, who is retiring.

“This evening we are celebrating a milestone for the dental education programs at Mount Wachusett Community College,” she said.

Malkasian thanked the numerous supporters who helped launch the program and ensure its continued success, including Ellen Daly, former chair of MWCC’s Board of Trustees. A retired dental hygienist, Daly was instrumental in starting the program. Daly, who attended the celebration, said she is delighted with the growth and continued success of the dental education programs.

“I may have planted a seed, but the work has been done by the college staff,” Daly said.

Professor Cynthia Cadoret, the new chair of the dental education programs department, announced the creation of the Dental Health Alumni Scholarship to benefit future students. Alumni, current students, college faculty and administrators, industry vendors and other supporters have contributed to the new scholarship. 

 

CJ

Charles “CJ” Husselbee, a first-generation college student, simultaneously earned his high school diploma and an academic certificate in accounting through MWCC’s Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation Career Tech Scholarship. He went on to earn an associate degree in Business Administration in 2014 a year ahead of schedule, and is now pursuing a bachelor’s in accounting at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Mount Wachusett Community College’s dual enrollment programs are showcased as innovative models in the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy’s second annual report, the Condition of Education in the Commonwealth. The report, released January 22 by the Cambridge-based research institute, examines areas of success and areas for continued improvement in student outcomes across the education pipeline, from birth to college and career success.

The report notes MWCC’s record of success and its potential to serve as a model for other communities across the Massachusetts, citing as example the Gateway to College program for students at risk of dropping out, the Pathways Early College Innovation School, and the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation Career Tech Scholarship.

The second annual report includes a set of 25 data indicators representing critical student outcomes and, for the first time this year, an action guide that focuses on three areas where data indicate the need for further reform: setting a strong foundation in early childhood, attending to the whole child with comprehensive supports, and preparing college-ready students through innovative high school designs.

The action guide focuses on existing programs that could, if brought to scale, lead to substantial progress in educational outcomes for students. Mount Wachusett Community College was showcased as a model for policymakers and practitioners.

“The Condition of Education project offers a platform for constructive dialogue among stakeholders about the most effective strategies to promote student success,” said the center’s Executive Director Chad d’Entremont. “Through this report, the Rennie Center brings together thought leaders to develop a shared understanding, grounded in evidence, of the state of our educational system. We are excited to shine a light on the great work that Mount Wachusett is doing to contribute to positive outcomes for Massachusetts students.”

“Dual enrollment programs expand academic opportunities and open doors to higher education for teenagers,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Our programs cover a wide spectrum – including programs that restore excitement in learning for students who feel disengaged from the traditional high school experience, to those that help students accelerate the pace of their studies to get an early start on their career goals. We are delighted to partner with the Rennie Center to share our best practices with communities across the commonwealth.”

The report was released during a forum on Jan. 22 in Boston. Speakers included Massachusetts Secretary of Education James Peyser, Dr. Andrew Hargreaves of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College and author of The Fourth Way: the Inspiring Future for Educational Change.

Building upon its successful Gateway to College program, MWCC partnered with the Mahar Regional School District to launch the Pathways Early College Innovation High School in. Students with a GPA of 3.0 enroll during their junior year and earn a high school diploma and an associate degree simultaneously. The program focuses on high-achieving students, and recruits a largely low-income, first-generation population that might not attend college without this opportunity. The Pathways school draws on a variety of public and private funds, including district school-choice funds, to remain sustainable.

In partnership with Winchendon Public Schools, high school students can opt into a one-year, full-time dual enrollment program that features career-oriented options, such as health care, information technology, accounting or computer science. Funded by the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation, this program lets students earn their high school diploma and an academic certificate simultaneously, which can be applied toward an associate degree. The Rennie Center report notes that these are popular choices for students who are eager to complete a two-year degree or a work-based certification and enter the workforce quickly. Students are provided with private foundation scholarships from the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation to cover the costs associated with coursework.

MWCC has also expanded on its college transition offerings in other ways as well, the report notes. As a solution to remediation, the college administers the Accuplacer math and English placement tests to all juniors in nine partner high schools. In addition, MWCC faculty collaborate with high school faculty to develop rigorous and targeted 12th grade math courses to prepare all students to enter directly into credit-bearing coursework upon graduation. Fitchburg High School, Leominster High School, Leominster High’s Center for Technical Education Innovation and Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School participate in this Math Modeling initiative, with a planned expansion to an additional two to three high schools in the 2015-16 school year.

The Rennie Center was launched in 2002 by then-Secretary of Education Paul Reville as a division of the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC). In 2005, the Rennie Center became an independent non-profit organization committed to addressing the critical challenges of reforming education in Massachusetts. For more information and to view the report, visit www.renniecenter.org.

 

Dental Hygiene pinning 2014 awards

Dental Education Programs Director Anne Malkasian with members of the 2014 graduating class.

Following extensive planning and support from the North Central Massachusetts dental community, Mount Wachusett Community College launched its dental education programs in 2005 in Fitchburg. To mark the 10 year anniversary and the programs’ recent relocation to the Fitchburg Family Community Health Center, MWCC invites area dentists, alumni and program supporters to a celebration on Thursday, Jan. 22 from 4:30 to 6:30 at the new program site.

MWCC’s full-time dental hygiene program and part-time, evening dental assistant program are housed within the Community Health Connections’ newly opened, $20 million Fitchburg Family Community Health Center, located at 326 Nichols Road and adjacent to the original site at Health Alliance Hospital, Burbank campus. The relocation continues a long-standing partnership between MWCC and CHC that enables students to work with dentists and patients.

The event will include a reception, tours of the new facility, student presentations and refreshments. The celebration also will mark the retirement of Program Director Anne Malkasian and appointment of the program’s new coordinator, Professor Cynthia Cadoret.

“Our dental education programs were created in collaboration with the dental and medical community to address a specific need for trained dental professionals in our region, as well as provide care for area residents who otherwise would not have access to dental care,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “We are delighted with the success of these programs, the success of our graduates and current students, and the success of this ongoing community partnership. Many in our community were involved with making this happen, and we look forward to celebrating this milestone with them.”

Reservations to the free event are requested and can be made by contacting Anne Malkasian at amalkasian@mwcc.mass.edu. In case of inclement weather, the snow date is Tuesday, Jan. 27.

 

 

 

Winners Photo

“The Trivial Pursuits,” winners of the first MWCC Alumni Association Quiz Night, from left, Karen Doherty, Shawn LaRoche, Joseph Stiso and John Doherty.

On Thursday evening, January 8, “Quizters” and spectators braved the arctic cold and made a spectacular showing at the Mount Wachusett Community College Alumni Association’s first annual “Quiz Night” event.

In a dynamic game of question and answer, teams tested their knowledge related to current topics and college-related trivia. Promoted as a fun and entertaining evening, the event proved to be just that. Teams were encouraged to give themselves humorous names and to come dressed in costume. Many did, adding to the amusing atmosphere. Complementing the levity of the evening was Master of Ceremonies, Mayor Mark Hawke, whose quick wit truly entertained the crowd. “I didn’t find the questions all that difficult, but then again I had the answers” Mayor Hawke commented. “What a fantastic night and a great way to raise funds for the MWCC Foundation.”

“This turned out to be a great way to raise much needed funds for student scholarships” said Carol Jacobson, Associate Director Alumni Relations at MWCC. “Being our first effort with this event, we are thrilled with the level of support and enthusiasm we received from members of the community and within the college. We’re already looking ahead to next year.”

Thomas Mutti from the Ronald M. Ansin Foundation participated as a member of the HealthAlliance Hospital team. “I can’t imagine a better night for a better cause” he said. “Fun was had by all and a day later I’m still laughing.”

The event netted nearly $3,000 and proceeds will fund student scholarships through the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation.

 

 

 

 

Survivor BGCFL benefit 2014

Participants in last year’s Survivor: The Musical benefit performance helped raise $50,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. On Friday, Jan. 23, prominent local leaders will take to the stage at MWCC’s Theatre at the Mount to support the club.

Twenty contestants, two tribes, but only one “Survivor.” Local celebrities will try to “out sing, out perform and out shine” the competition in Survivor, the Musical, an upcoming Theatre at the Mount production to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.Tickets are now on sale for the event, which will take place at Mount Wachusett Community College on Friday, Jan. 23. Following upon the success of last year’s event, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, BGCFL Executive Director Donata Martin and business and community leaders will appear as featured contestants.

Performers will compete in this take-off on the popular TV reality show. Singing, dancing, acting, puzzles, trivia, and the dreaded “tribal council” will provide a full evening of non-stop fun. Survivor, the Musical is conceived and hosted by Theatre at the Mount veteran Chris Casello.

“We are delighted to once again offer this fun evening of entertainment to benefit the children served by the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Survivor the Musical, featuring well-known members of our community, promises to be an evening of exceptional entertainment for a worthy cause. Having received the support of this national organization as a child, I know first-hand that the opportunities and experiences are transformative.”

Since 2001, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has worked in youth development with young people ages 8 to 18 from many economic, social and family circumstances.

“We are grateful for the community’s generosity and ongoing support of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster and its many fine programs, and to Mount Wachusett Community College in particular for serving as our primary sponsor and host of this event,” said Justin Gelinas, president of the Club’s Board of Directors. “The collective efforts of individuals, corporations and organizations help us fulfill the Club’s mission of inspiring and enabling young people to realize their full potential.”

Tickets to the dinner and theatre performance are $100 per person, and tables of eight or 10 are available. For reservations and sponsorship opportunities, contact Patty Fields at 978-534-8358, ext. 17 or email pfields@bgcfl.org. Dinner and theatre tickets may also be purchased through MWCC by contacting Lois Cox at 978-630-9101 or lcox@mwcc.mass.edu. Dinner reservations are requested by Friday, Jan. 16. Tickets to attend only the performance are $20 and are available through the Theatre at the Mount box office at 978-630-9388 or online at www.mwcc.edu/tam.

 

Chad Stateler & Sandy TavaresWondering how close you are to earning a college degree? Mount Wachusett Community College is hosting a transcript evaluation day on Wednesday, Jan. 7 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Gardner campus Advising Center.

Past, current and prospective students who have taken credit courses at MWCC or at other private and public colleges and universities are invited to bring their transcripts and meet with an advisor to discuss completing an academic degree.

“This is a chance for students to make the most out of the work they have already accomplished, and accelerate their educational and career goals,” said Debra Boucher, MWCC Director of Student Success.

Advance registration is encouraged and can be done online at mwcc.edu/getcredit. The snow date is Monday, Jan. 12.