Following academic and career pursuits that have taken her to three continents, educator and anthropologist Dr. Laurie Occhipinti has returned to her native Massachusetts as Mount Wachusett Community College’s new Dean of Liberal Arts, Humanities, Education, and Communications.
“It is a pleasure to welcome Dr. Laurie Occhipinti to Mount Wachusett Community College to lead our School of Liberal Arts, Humanities, Education, and Communications,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “Dean Occhipinti brings experience in academic leadership and teaching, a solid understanding of the value of civic engagement to society and great enthusiasm during this period of growth at MWCC. The liberal arts are essential to a holistic education, providing students of all academic disciplines with critical thinking skills and a core knowledge of the world around them.”
Prior to joining MWCC in January, Dr. Occhipinti served as an assistant dean and professor of anthropology at Clarion University in Clarion, PA. At MWCC, she fills a position previously held on an interim basis by Dr. Vincent Ialenti, Dean of Academic and Institutional Technology.
A native of Beverly and a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Dr. Occhipinti said she is excited to join MWCC. Her first priority is to get to know the college, students and faculty.
“I come with a blank sheet of paper. I want to know what’s important to others,” she said. “I am really committed to public education. It plays a critical role and opens up opportunity for everyone. Community colleges have a particularly special role in that.”
Dr. Occhipinti joined Clarion University, a public institution, in 2003 as an assistant professor of anthropology and was subsequently promoted to associate professor and full professor. In addition to working on program development and assessment for the anthropology program, she served as coordinator of the university’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies program and as vice chair and chair of the university’s faculty senate. In 2014, she was appointed assistant dean of the College of Arts, Education and Sciences, where she was responsible for student advising, transfers, graduation and curriculum.
Prior to joining Clarion, she worked as a lecturer for three years at Northeastern University in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She previously taught at Salem State University and McGill University, and worked for the American Anthropological Association as an assistant with its Association for Feminist Anthropology.
Much of her research has focused on poverty and economic development; the role of religious organizations in combatting poverty; creating meaningful and sustainable service projects; and the impact of volunteerism on volunteers. Her field work and professional travel have brought her to Argentina, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador.
Among her many publications, she is the author of Making a Difference in a Globalized World: Short Term Missions that Work; Faith-Based Organizations and Development in the Handbook on Religions and Global Development; and Liberating development: Religious transformations of development discourse.
Dr. Occhipinti earned her Ph.D. and master’s degree in anthropology from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She lives in Salem with her husband and their son.