Administrators from Nepal's Far-Western University selected MWCC as one of a handful of stops on a multi-college US tour.

Administrators from Nepal’s Far-Western University selected MWCC as one of a handful of stops on a multi-college US tour.

Mount Wachusett Community College welcomed a delegation of six Nepalese educators seeking exposure to the best practices in higher-education administration on a multi-college US tour. Far-Western University in Nepal was established in 2010, and top administrators selected MWCC due in large part to its commitment to sustainability, as well as its applicable educational models and comparable rural setting.

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino and vice presidents from several campus departments highlighted such topics as modern curriculum building, student services, grading systems and foreign-exchange programs. Following the meeting in MWCC’s Murphy Room, administrators from Far-Western University toured the campus and specifically the biomass facility, which converts woodchips into heating and electricity.

“We had a very fruitful discussion with our colleagues from Far-Western University in Nepal today,” said President Asquino, who was presented with a Dhaka topi, a popular Nepalese hat.  “We shared thoughts on curriculum teaching and learning. Our students, faculty and staff were able to exchange ideas that will inform the future of both of our institutions.”

Representing Far-Western University were Dr. Narad Awasthi, dean of Faculty of Education; Dr. Bhawani Chand, dean of Faculty of Science and Technology; Bharati Joshi, dean of Faculty of Management; Registrar and Professor Hem Raj Pant; Dr. Tek Raj Pant, dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Controller of Examinations Kumar Thapa.

During their tour, administrators received a thorough overview of MWCC’s wind turbines, biomass-heating system and solar-energy systems, all of which will help to inform future sustainability practices at the Nepalese university.

Far-Western University hopes to increase its own conservation efforts in an area where deforestation has become commonplace, said Registrar Raj Pant. Raj Pant also said that the Far-Western campus receives a great deal of wind, and university officials aim to harness this resource and create a similar energy output to that of MWCC.

Based on their guests’ additional interests, MWCC leaders explained specific campus departments and services, including Online Learning and the corresponding Massachusetts Colleges Online, Disability Services, Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development and the Visions and Rx Programs.

The International Center of Worcester and Executive Director Royce Anderson coordinated the Massachusetts portion of the trip, which will also include stops at Worcester State and Clark Universities.

- Cameron Woodcock

Marion Stoddart

Renowned environmentalist Marion Stoddart, whose grassroots efforts led to the restoration of the Nashua River – once considered one of the country’s most polluted rivers – will share her experiences as a civic leader and pioneering activist during two presentations March 6 at Mount Wachusett Community College.

The events will include the viewing of the award-winning, 30-minute documentary, “Marion Stoddart: The Work of 1000,” which tells the inspirational story of the former suburban housewife who mobilized a community to save the polluted Nashua, proving that an “ordinary” person can accomplish the extraordinary. A presentation by Stoddart and a question and answer session will follow. The presentations will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the North Café of MWCC’s Gardner campus, 444 Green Street, and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the college’s Devens Campus, 27 Jackson Road. The events are free and open to the public and are sponsored by MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, the LaChance Library, the Green Society student sustainability club, and the office of student life.

In the early 1960s, Stoddart was a housewife and mother of three in Groton, Mass., who decided to take on the seemingly impossible – cleaning up the Nashua River. Flowing through north central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, the Nashua River was once one of the 10 most-polluted rivers in America. During her years of advocacy, Stoddart organized a massive citizen effort to rescue the river. She lobbied successfully for legislation, including the Massachusetts Clean Waters Act. Continuing that record of success, she petitioned the federal government for millions of dollars of promised funds to fight the pollution – and won. Her dramatic success in mobilizing the community showed people that change was possible.

Thanks to the efforts of Stoddart and the Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA), the non-profit she founded in 1969, the river has been restored to become a vital natural resource for wildlife and people. The river is now an internationally recognized environmental success story and a locally celebrated natural resource.

Stoddart, a citizen leader committed to a lifetime of grassroots organizing and coalition building, is the recipient of many awards for her work as a pioneer in environmental activism, including the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Global 500 Award. The NRWA is recognized nationally as a model for natural resource protection and for its community-based environmental education programs serving thousands each year. Stoddart continues to empower and motivate by speaking to hundreds of professionals, students, and community organizations every year about the difference each of us can make.

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Samantha Stelmack, center, of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, with members of The Green Society and community during her recent visit to MWCC.

The Green Society student sustainability club hosted a presentation Nov. 26 on two invasive beetles in Massachusetts to raise awareness in the community.

Samantha Brady Stelmack, forest pest outreach and survey coordinator for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, provided an overview of the damage in the state and in the country being caused by the invasive Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer. The free lecture drew students, faculty and members of the greater community.

Both species have a devastating effect on the environment and the economy, Stelmack said. During the presentation, she explained ways to identify infestation and precautions that can be made. Since the Asian longhorned beetle was detected in Massachusetts in 2008, local, state and federal entities have been working together to fight the infestation that has had devastating effects in Worcester and has placed the entire Northeastern U.S. on high alert. Worcester’s Asian longhorned beetle infestation has required the removal of more than 30,000 trees and has spread into neighboring towns.

The emerald ash borer has destroyed millions of ash trees since it appeared in the U.S. a decade ago. It was detected in the Berkshires in August 2012.