General News


Left to Right: Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Chair Chris Gabrieli, MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino and Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago

Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Chair Chris Gabrieli and Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago recognized Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino for his thirty years of service to MWCC and 47 years of service to Massachusetts public higher education at their board meeting hosted at the college’s Gardner campus on Tuesday, December 6th. The Board and attendees honored the president with a standing ovation. The president has announced his retirement and the college is currently conducting a search for its next and third president.

Chair Gabrieli praised the college in particular for its leadership and excellence in K-12 partnership work and early college design. President Asquino gave a presentation to the board outlining the college’s growth and leadership in Civic Engagement, K-12 partnerships, academic excellence, workforce development and sustainability.

President Dr. Daniel M. Asquino signs CEOs Against Stigma CampaignMount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino today joined more than 100 other CEOs to sign The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass) CEOs Against Stigma campaign in an effort to fight the number one cause of workplace disability. Approximately one in every five adults in Massachusetts will struggle with a mental health condition this year (depression followed by anxiety).

“We are committed to ending the stigma often associated with mental health,” said President Asquino. “We want to make it very clear to all those who need help for themselves or a loved one, that they can take steps to address mental health without fear.”

NAMI Mass launched the CEOs Against Stigma campaign in 2015 with a grant from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. CEOs Against Stigma partners with the leaders of businesses, organizations and municipalities across the Commonwealth to educate and combat stigma.

“By joining CEOs Against Stigma, top executives are helping to change the misperceptions about mental illness by encouraging people to open up and speak freely about the conditions that affect them and their immediate families. Most importantly, through their support, these leaders across the Commonwealth are helping people to seek treatment,” says NAMI Mass Executive Director Laurie Martinelli. “We are very proud of these CEOs who have stepped up to the plate and signed our pledge to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness.”

As part of this campaign, participating employers host In Our Own Voice, a NAMI signature program featuring two people living with mental illness who share their personal stories and how they are achieving recovery. The In Our Own Voice program has been recognized by a leading national mental health researcher as the most effective anti-stigma program in America.

Founded in 1982, NAMI Mass is a nonprofit, grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. It is the state’s voice on mental illness, with 21 local chapters and more than 2,000 members. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health challenges and their families by educating the public; fighting stigma, discrimination and stereotypes; and promoting recovery. To that end, the organization offers free, peer-led programs that provide resources, insights, coping skills and genuine support. To learn more about NAMI Mass, please visit

The Mount Wachusett Community College Presidential Search Committee today named five finalists to succeed MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, who is retiring after more than 30 years of service to the college and more than 50 years of service to Massachusetts Public Higher Education.

“Hiring a community college president is a tremendous responsibility, and I want to recognize the Search Committee members for the many hours they worked and the expertise they shared in order to locate and secure the third president in the history of Mount Wachusett Community College,” said Attorney Richard A. Cella, chair of the MWCC Presidential Search Committee and a member of the MWCC Board of Trustees. “We are excited to recommend a new leader with expansive experience, a visionary who can continue to move MWCC forward and to serve the community and region. The finalists are all exceptional individuals with impressive credentials who can continue the college’s philosophy of providing quality and affordable education to the students in our service area.”

The finalists for the presidency of the college, which annually serves approximately 14,816 credit and noncredit students, are:

  • William D. Hart
  • J.D. LaRock, J.D., Ed.D.
  • Maureen H. Powers, Ph.D.
  • James Vander Hooven, Ed.D.
  • Julie A. White, Ph.D.

Each candidate will participate in interviews and open meetings to be held from December 5th through December 13th on the MWCC Gardner campus. MWCC staff, faculty, students and community members are invited to attend the community and open sessions. The interviews with the Board of Trustees each day are open to the public. View a complete schedule of finalist visits at

Candidate evaluation forms will be available for all attendees and will be shared with the Board of Trustees. The MWCC Board of Trustees will announce their selection for the third president of Mount Wachusett Community College at their December 15th meeting. Their recommendation will then be presented to Massachusetts Board of Higher Education for final approval.

“Due to President Asquino’s innovative leadership, Mount Wachusett Community College is well positioned for success,” said MWCC Board of Trustees Chair Tina Sbrega. “We are fortunate to have such a talented pool of finalists and delighted that President Asquino will remain on campus during the transition period.”

The five finalists:

William HartWilliam D. Hart has more than 25 years of higher education experience and began his career as an adjunct faculty member in the Social Sciences Division at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. Bill’s desire to make a broader contribution to the college was realized in a variety of leadership positions he assumed while at Bunker Hill, including Vice President of Communications. In this position, he shaped a new cabinet level division and with other senior leaders helped transform Bunker Hill Community College into the strong learning environment it is today.

Bill has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office since 2009. He had previously served as the deputy director for five years. His thorough understanding of critical issues in higher education administration, coupled with his ability to articulate to an array of audiences, has been instrumental in his successful advocacy on behalf of the institutions in which he serves.

Bill has been extremely active over many years in building partnerships with employers throughout the region. He has served as chamber of commerce president in two local cities; a longstanding member of the Metro North Regional Employment Board; and was a Gubernatorial appointment to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. He also serves on many charitable and civic boards of directors. Bill is often called upon to provide political commentary and policy analysis for local cable television.
Mr. Hart earned a Bachelor of Arts from Merrimack College in North Andover and a Master in Public Administration from Suffolk University in Boston. Bill currently resides in Lynnfield, MA and previously in Everett, MA where he served in various elected and public service roles. View William D. Hart’s resume at

J.D. LaRockDr. J.D. LaRock is Chair of the Board of Trustees at North Shore Community College, a diverse, high-performing, 10,500-student community college with campuses in Lynn, Danvers, and Middleton, Massachusetts. J.D. also represents and advocates for Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges and 135,000 community college students as the community college segmental representative on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.

A nationally known education policymaker with an eclectic background as a television reporter, school district spokesperson, and international education official, J.D. works at Northeastern University, where he has served as Executive Director of Strategic Presidential Initiatives, Chief of Staff, and on the university’s senior leadership team. A scholar of education policy, education politics, and the future of higher education, J.D. is also a faculty member in Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies.

As a Senior Education Advisor to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, J.D. helped author several major laws that have made college more affordable, especially for low-income and first-generation students. These include the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, a 2007 law that increased funding for federal Pell Grants by more than $11 billion, and the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which reauthorized the federal Higher Education Act and strengthened its many college access programs, including the TRIO and GEAR UP programs.

As Policy Director at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education in the administration of Governor Deval L. Patrick, J.D. authored major portions of the Achievement Gap Act of 2010, which has been hailed as one of the most impactful education laws of the last generation. The law enabled the creation of 40 “Innovation Schools” across the state, including the Pathways Early College Innovation School at Mount Wachusett Community College. It also significantly strengthened the state’s power to intervene in low-performing school districts, leading to a nationally praised school district turnaround effort in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Dr. LaRock holds three degrees from Harvard University, including a doctorate in education administration, planning and policy, as well as a law degree from Georgetown University. He lives in Melrose, Massachusetts. View J.D. LaRock’s resume at

Dr. Maureen PowersDr. Maureen Powers was born and raised in Worcester County and started her college studies in the Massachusetts public college system, and later returned to North Adams State College (now MCLA) to serve as the Assistant Dean of Students. She has since served in senior college leadership roles as Vice President or Dean at several institutions including Emmanuel College in Boston, The City College of New York in NYC, Stanford University in California and most recently at Plymouth University, a public institution in England. Maureen has also served in senior leadership roles at two international institutes, running 75 undergraduate academic programs in 43 countries.

Dr. Powers is a respected speaker on risk reduction/management, diversity and inclusion, student retention, crisis response/safety, and legal and international issues in higher education. She has delivered influential presentations on student safety, FERPA, Title IX, diversity and inclusion and cross cultural competency to faculty, administrators and students in the USA and twelve other countries. Since returning from the UK this past year, she is serving as a consultant to the Los Angeles Transit Authority on sexual harassment, as a consultant on diversity for the Indiana University IU-MSI Faculty STEM project, and as a consultant to the CEO and program speaker for LEAD, a drug and alcohol abuse prevention non-profit outside Chicago.

Maureen received her bachelor degree from Georgetown University in Government, a Masters from Saint Louis University in Urban Affairs and she earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education from Indiana University-Bloomington. She holds dual citizenship in Ireland and the USA, and has lived in Africa, Europe and the United States, but always considers Worcester County her home. View Maureen H. Powers’ resume at

Dr. James Vander HoovenDr. James Vander Hooven has been committed to the ideas of access and opportunity in higher education for the majority of his professional career. After a few years of secondary teaching and administration, Vander Hooven found his true calling when he stepped foot into a nontraditional classroom and he was the youngest person in the room. From that evening on, he has focused his energy and time on increasing opportunities for students of all ages and backgrounds to achieve their academic, professional, and personal goals.

Jim is currently serving as the Vice President for Enrollment Management at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont. In this role, he serves as the College’s chief enrollment officer, manages recruitment activities, enrollment and admissions processes, and administers the Office of Financial Aid. He also oversees the Office of Transfer, Career, and Internship Services.

Prior to joining Landmark College, Jim was president of Tohono O’odham Community College, a Tribal College located on the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Arizona. In that role, he oversaw the $9 million construction of a new main campus, strengthened programs in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and developmental education, and represented the Tribal Colleges in annual presentations on Capitol Hill.

In previous roles, Jim has served as Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Lakes Region Community College in Laconia, New Hampshire, and Regional Dean of Academic and Student Affairs at National American University in Denver, Colorado. The breadth of his experience gives him a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities of educational leadership. He is dedicated to building strong teams designed to achieve important goals and improve student outcomes.

Dr. Vander Hooven attained his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The Ohio State University. He received his Master of Arts degree in American Studies from the University of Wyoming. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Maine, where he focused on student access. His dissertation was titled, “Lessons From Success: The Experience of Women Who Successfully Completed an Associate Degree While Parenting Children.” He lives in Keene, New Hampshire. View James Vander Hooven’s resume at

Dr. Julie WhiteDr. Julie White currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Student Engagement and Learning Support at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York. Previously, Dr. White served as Interim Provost and Senior Vice President at OCC, while the College extended its search for a new provost. Dr. White joined OCC in 2013 as Vice President, Student Engagement and Learning Support. Prior to that, she held the position of Director of Centers for Student Engagement and Academic Advisement at Cayuga Community College, and from 2005-2013, Julie worked at Monroe Community College as the Assistant Director of Student Services, where she also served as an Adjunct Instructor in Sociology. Prior to joining the Monroe Community College staff, Julie worked at Rochester Institute of Technology, serving in roles including Director of Human Subjects Research, Associate Director of the Center for Student Transition and Support, and Coordinator of the Women’s Center. Previously, she was a Health Educator at the State University of New York at Geneseo and University of Rochester. Currently she is also an Adjunct Professor and Dissertation Committee Chair in St. John Fisher College’s Ed.D. program in Executive Leadership. She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at the Warner Graduate School of Education at the University of Rochester, Monroe Community College, and SUNY Geneseo.

Julie is a Fellow of the American College Health Association and has been recognized by several organizations for her work in advancing diversity and inclusion, including recent awards as a YWCA Diversity Achiever from the YWCA of Syracuse and the Ann Felton Multicultural Leadership Award from Onondaga Community College.

Julie also remains active in academic research, conferences, and publications, in the areas of community college research, success for under-represented populations, and financial aid policy. Active in the community, she serves on the boards of the Everson Museum of Art and the Say Yes to Education Syracuse Operating Board.

Dr. White earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from the University of Rochester, a Master in Education in Counseling from Xavier University, and a Bachelor of Science in Education in English Literature from Miami University. View Julie A. White’s resume at

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. Under his leadership, Mount Wachusett has grown exponentially in size, stature and academic services.
Enrollment has grown and satellite campuses have been established in Leominster, Fitchburg, and Devens, and the number of academic programs has expanded to over 75 associate degree and certificate options. During his tenure at MWCC, President Asquino has established the college as a state and national leader in the areas of workforce development and economic development; dual enrollment and K-12 partnerships; civic engagement and service learning; veteran services; and renewable energy and sustainability.

“It has been an honor and a privilege,” President Asquino said in an announcement to the college and greater community when announcing his retirement. “I can say without reservation that it has been a joy to come to work each and every day. For that, I thank the hard-working students, faculty, staff and alumni of Mount Wachusett Community College and our many community partners for their inspiration and support.”

The members of the Presidential Search Committee are:

  • Mr. Richard A. Cella, Esquire – Chairperson, Search Committee Member/Vice Chair Board of Trustees Member, Foundation Board Community Member
  • Ms. Tina Sbrega – Member/Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Community Member
  • Ms. Cheryl Oliveri, Search Committee, Staff Assistant, Planning, Development and Institutional Research, MWCC, Secretary
  • Ms. Diane Ruksnaitis, Ex-Officio, Vice President, Human Resources & Payroll, Affirmative Action Officer, MWCC
  • Mr. Chuck Bowles, Member, Foundation Board, Community Member
  • Mr. Wayne Canty, Member, Foundation Board, Community Member
  • Ms. Denise Clemons, Superintendent, Gardner Public School, Community Member
  • Ms. Joana Dos Santos, Member, Board of Trustees, Community Member
  • Mr. Elmer Eubanks-Archbold, Professor of Business, MWCC
  • Ms. Suzanne Farias, Member, Board of Trustees, Community Member
  • Ms. Patricia Marshall, Member, Board of Higher Education
  • Mr. Ray Martino, Member/Chairman, Foundation Board, Community Member
  • Mr. Dean Mazzarella, Mayor of Leominster, Community Member
  • Ms. Carla Morrissey, Library Assistant III, MWCC
  • Ms. Kelly Morrissey, Director of Financial Aid, MWCC
  • Ms. Shaunti Phillips, Senior Community Outreach Counselor, MWCC
  • Ms. Cathy Teague, Student, MWCC

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.”

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

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 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

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 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.

Leading into the busy holiday season, about 90 percent of Fitchburg High School seniors will have one less item on their to-do list having already submitted their college applications for fall 2017. The third annual College Application Challenge will be held from 9:00am to 1:30pm on November 15, 2016 at Fitchburg High School.

Mount Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg High are again partnering to bring the Massachusetts College Application Celebration to the school next week. This is the fifth year Massachusetts has participated in the national initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Education’s GEAR UP program and the third year the event has been held at FHS.

“The FHS community has worked very hard to raise our graduation rate to the highest it has ever been. We know that the next step is to work to make sure that every student leaves FHS with many great options for college and career when they graduate. The Massachusetts College Application Celebration highlights our commitment to this goal and adds a great energy around building our school’s college going culture,” said Fitchburg High School Principal Jeremy Roche.

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is administered by MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition in partnership with the high school through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The majority of students in the graduating class of 2017 have received intensive college access and success services since middle school.

“With so much preparation behind them, students were eager to participate in the application challenge this year,” said MWCC GEAR UP Director Andrew Goodwin.

Specific services include academic counseling, tutoring, homework support, after school academic and social activities, college awareness and financial aid workshops, MCAS and PSAT/SAT preparation, and college admissions assistance.

To attend this event and speak directly with students about their college plans, please contact Andrew Goodwin, MWCC GEAR UP Director at 978-630-9243 or via email at To learn more about the GEAR UP program, please visit:

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, as well as,, and 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:
To view the full Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 rankings and survey methodology go to:

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.

President Asquino; Panelists Ernest Martineau, Michelle Dunn, Jack Maroney, Tamara E. Perini, Daisy Bacener, Joseph D. Early, Jr., Diane Power; event organizer Sharmese Gunn

Left to right: President Asquino; Panelists Joseph D. Early, Jr., Ernest Martineau, Daisy Bacener, Michelle Dunn; Moderator Jen Flanagan; Panelists Jack Maroney, Tamara E. Perini, Diane Power; event organizer Sharmese Gunn

Mount Wachusett Community College welcomed over 250 guests to its Gardner campus this morning for a public forum moderated by State Senator Jennifer Flanagan to address the issues surrounding opioid addiction and abuse, a critical problem impacting too many families and communities across the Commonwealth.

The free forum, Opiates in North Central Massachusetts: Education for Community-Wide Crisis Response, took place on Monday, Oct 31 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. with a breakout session for dialogue and NARCAN® training following the panel forum.

Panelists included Fitchburg Police Chief Ernest Martineau; Michelle Dunn, Founder/President of the A.E.D. Foundation, Inc. and co-director and president of Alyssa’s Place; Jack Maroney, CEO of Recovery Centers of America at Westminster; Tamara E. Perini, MSW, LCSW UMass Memorial – HealthAlliance Hospital and the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office; Daisy Bacener, Chief Probation Officer for the City of Fitchburg; District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr., Office of Worcester County District; and Dr. Diane Power M.D. OB/GYN UMass Memorial – HealthAlliance Hospital.

The panelists discussed the multi-generational aspects of opioid addiction, the coping skills needed by families with a loved one suffering from addiction, dealing with the crisis as a public health issue and not a criminal one, potential changes to drug prescription practices, and the value of NARCAN® as a live-saving measure.

Senator Flanagan led the panel through many other important topics including what organizations are working to solve the issues, saying that community colleges are on the front line in meeting the need for services head-on with training and programs.

Senator Flanagan of Leominster has worked tirelessly on this issue during her two terms in the House of Representatives and after being elected to the Senate in 2008.  She currently serves as Chair of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee and Chair of the Special Senate Committee on Opioid Addiction. Senator Flanagan was also appointed as Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, and is a member of the Public Safety Committee and Homeland Security Committee.

An audience of over 250 attendees hears advice from a panel of opioid addition experts in the Mount Wachusett Community College Theatre.

An audience of over 250 attendees hears advice from a panel of opioid addition experts in the Mount Wachusett Community College Theatre.

Both in the House and Senate, Senator Flanagan played critical roles in passing several key pieces of legislation relative to mental health and substance abuse. The most recent being an act to increase opportunities for long-term substance abuse recovery signed into law in 2014, which provides people with an opportunity to access treatment and an act relative to substance use prevention signed into law in 2016.

There were many positive moments in the forum, such as when Fitchburg Police Chief Ernest Martineau relayed the success story that Fitchburg Police have saved 100 lives by administering 100 NARCAN® treatments since June 2015. NARCAN® blocks the effects of opioids and can reverse an overdose.

Following the forum, Michael Ellis, Coordinator of the Men’s Suicide Prevention Project, Regional Behavioral Health Collaborative, and Heywood Hospital provided free NARCAN® training for over 60 participants. The training included interactive, practical instructions for an engaged audience who asked many follow up questions.

Participants who did not opt for the training attended a dialogue facilitated by Jason Zelesky, Dean of Students at Mount Wachusett Community College. The dialogue helped participants personalize what they’d just heard in the forum, increase their understanding of this complex issue, and provided participants with the opportunity to discuss root causes to the issue as well as potential solutions.

“This is the crisis of our time,” said Dr. Daniel Asquino, president of the college. “But our hope is that this will not be the crisis of tomorrow. Today’s event gives us all a better sense of what we can do to combat our region’s opioid epidemic by working together and increasing our understanding of the causes, early warning signs and resources available to help those in need.”

The event concluded with time for attendees to meet with resource organizations including AdCare Hospital of Worcester, Inc.; The A.E.D. Foundation; American Addiction Centers; Heywood Hospital CHART Program;  Montachusett Opportunity Council, Inc.; Montachusett Suicide Prevention Task Force; Mount Wachusett Community College Admissions; Mount Wachusett Community College Gateway to College; the Office of District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr.; Recovery Centers of America at Westminster; the SHINE Initiative; and Spectrum Health Systems Inc.

This Tea Time Speaker Series was a recipient of the 2016 MWCC Foundation Innovation Grant and was sponsored by: Mount Wachusett Community College’s Diversity Consortium; Gateway to College; the Workforce Diversity Pipeline Program which is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health; The North Central Massachusetts Minority Coalition/Three Pyramids, Inc. This event was also sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with the American Association of Colleges & Universities, in an effort to examine Citizenship Under Siege through public forums and conversations.