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Nov. 9, 2010

In This Issue
MWCC Selected by U.S. Department of Education to Establish Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success
Wind Turbines Ready to be Assembled
Pathways Early College Innovation School to Expand in January
MWCC's Patriotic Tree Commemorates Long-Serving Employee
Vice President Pati Gregson Receives Award for Leadership in College Readiness
MWCC Receives Eight NCMPR Awards for Communications Excellence
Joseph Stiso Named to National Board for Community College Development Officers
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MWCC Selected by U.S. Department of Education to Establish Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success 

Veterans and current members of the military who are pursuing college degrees will receive an array of new support services at Mount Wachusett Community College, which is one of 15 institutions in the country selected by the U.S. Department of Education to establish a Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.

MWCC was awarded a three-year, $400,000 Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant to create the center, which will provide resources for academic and personal support and serve as a national model. The U.S. Department of Education initiative is aimed at providing services addressing the academic, financial, physical and social needs of veteran students, current military personnel, and their dependents. Since the passage of the new Post 9/11 GI bill in August, 2009, colleges and universities across the country have seen a significant increase in veterans returning to school after serving in the military.

"We are proud and honored to have been chosen to create a Center of Excellence for our veteran students," said President Daniel M. Asquino. "The men and women who serve our country in the military do so at a tremendous sacrifice. This center will allow Mount Wachusett Community College to build upon its long-standing support of veteran students by providing personalized services to help them achieve their academic goals."

Under this new initiative at MWCC, a veteran student support team comprised of representatives from key campus offices will coordinate and collaborate to provide services tailored to meet veterans' needs, including admissions and transfer assistance; personal, academic and career counseling; veteran benefit and financial aid advising; orientation programs; coordinated study groups; peer mentoring; a textbook loan program; and an adaptive equipment loan program to assist those struggling with traumatic brain injury and hearing loss.
A new course, "First Year Experience for Veterans Students," will be offered in the spring 2011 semester beginning in January for new and continuing veteran students. Similar to a traditional first year experience course, this new course will help veteran students acclimate to the opportunities and expectations of college life.

The grant provides funding to appoint a full-time employee to coordinate comprehensive support services and a part-time career counselor/academic coach to facilitate tutoring and other support services.

John Walsh, director of Admissions and a veteran of the U.S. Navy Reserve, will administer the new Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.

"Yesterday's warriors are today's students," Walsh said. "With the assistance of this grant, MWCC will continue in its tradition of transforming veteran students to tomorrow's leaders. They've dedicated a good portion of their lives to serving and protecting the country. We want to provide whatever support they need to meet their goals."

MWCC, designated a Yellow Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, has also been recognized as a "military friendly" school by G.I. Jobs magazine. In 2008, the college provided land to the nonprofit organization Veteran Homestead, Inc. to build the Northeast Veteran Training & Rehabilitation Center, a residential, rehabilitation center serving combat veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The college has provided training opportunities over the past two years for faculty and staff focusing on supporting student veterans, and also has a student veterans club on campus.

Wind Turbines Ready to be Assembled

MWCC wind turbine foundationWith the foundations for the college's two wind turbines completed, the turbines are on schedule to go up within a few weeks.

This week, approximately 30 trucks are delivering the components that will make up the super-crane that will erect the two turbines. The Manitowoc 2250 crane is so large, in fact, it will take another crane just to assemble it. The crane will be assembled through the remainder of this week and into early next week, MWCC Resident Engineer Ed Terceiro said. Once that is completed, the cranes are expected to begin assembling the turbines Nov. 18.

Over the past few weeks, work crews built the foundations using advanced engineering techniques that will anchor the turbines to the earth using one-third less concrete and other materials than a traditional gravity foundation.

"We're basically nailing them to the ground," explained Lloyd Purdy, an engineering technician with EarthSystems Global, Inc., who was on site for the foundation work. The California-based company works with Patrick and Henderson, Inc. in providing engineering design support for wind projects.

MWCC's turbines are being installed with P&H rock/pile anchor foundations. Once the foundation holes were excavated, 18 anchors were drilled 45 to 65 feet into soil and bedrock at each foundation. Reinforcing steel was installed next, and then 85 yards of specialty concrete was cast at each site.

Pictured: Workers building the steel and concrete foundation last week at the south turbine.
Pathways Early College Innovation School to Expand in January
Giorgia NobiliBuilding upon the success of the new Pathways Early College Innovation School this fall, the dual-enrollment opportunity for high school juniors will expand in January to accept a new group of 20 students at Mount Wachusett Community College. Enrollment is underway, and information sessions for applicants and their parents or guardians will take place through early December.

Established in partnership between the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District and MWCC, the Pathways innovation school opened in September with 20 students from the region who are simultaneously earning their high school diploma and an associate degree during the year-round, two-year program. The school was one of the first two innovation schools created under the state's new education reform bill, An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap, and the first established as an early college high school under this new legislation.

Tremendous interest in the new school led to the decision to expand the program, said Pati Gregson, vice president of Access & Transition at MWCC. "There is a need for an alternative pathway to higher education for students - socially, emotionally and financially - that this program meets for an eclectic group of learners who are looking to be challenged and engaged in ways not always possible in a traditional high school environment," she said.

Innovation schools function as in-district, charter-like public schools. In the Pathways school, students enroll in college-level courses at MWCC. Credits earned apply toward their high school diploma requirements as well as toward an associate degree to prepare them for the workforce or to transfer to a public or private college or university to pursue a bachelor's degree. Because the Pathways school is funded through Chapter 70 funds from Mahar regional school district, students are earning the college credits for free. Students receive individualized academic and career support, will participate in internships and other employment opportunities to develop strong professional skills, and have access to all MWCC facilities and services.

Information sessions for spring 2011 applicants and their parents or guardians will take place at the college's Gardner campus on the following dates: Nov. 9 from 1 to 2 p.m. and Nov. 10 from 6 to 7 p.m. in room 201; Nov. 16 from 1 to 2 p.m. in room 205; Nov. 17 from 6 to 7 p.m. in room 201; Nov. 18 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Murphy Conference Room; and Nov. 30 from 1 to 2 p.m., Dec. 1 from 6 to 7 p.m., Dec. 2 from 10 to 11 a.m., Dec. 7 from 1 to 2 p.m., Dec. 8 from 6 to 7 p.m. and Dec. 9 from 10 to 11 a.m., all in room 201.

An orientation session for new students will take place Jan. 13 and classes begin Jan. 19. Interested applicants may call (978) 630-9248 to register for an information session, or contact Pathways Director Garo Papazian at (978) 630-9393 for more information.

Pictured: Pathways student Giorgia Nobili with fellow classmates during a recent First Year Experience course.

MWCC's Patriotic Tree Commemorates Long-Serving Employee 

Patriotic Tree 2010The Academic Affairs division sponsored MWCC's contribution this year to the Gardner Museum's annual Festival of Trees. The "Patriotic Tree" theme, was designed in memory of long-serving employee Larry Payne, a veteran and volunteer, who worked for many years in the Media Services department.

"It's an honor," said his wife, Karen Payne, staff assistant in the office of Institutional Advancement. "The college and the military were large parts of his life, and we appreciate having him honored in this way."

"Many members of the college community showed their support by contributing patriotic ornaments and monetary donations to decorate the tree," said Dr. Melissa Fama, vice president of Academic Affairs.

The tree will be on display with dozens others for the duration of the Gardner Festival of Trees, then will be raffled off as part of this fundraising program. The exhibit will open to the public from Nov. 10 through Dec. 4.

Pictured: Dr. Melissa Fama, vice president of Academic Affairs, and Karen Payne, staff assistant in the Institutional Advancement office, beside the tree donated to the Gardner Museum's annual Festival of Trees in memory of long-serving MWCC employee and veteran Larry Payne.

Vice President Pati Gregson Receives Award for Leadership in College Readiness 

Pati Gregson, vice president of Access & Transition at MWCC, was named this year's recipient of the Massachusetts Educational Opportunity Association's Ann Coles Award, for demonstrated success in promoting access to higher education for low-income and first-generation college students in Massachusetts.

Created in 2009, the Ann Coles Award recognizes an individual or organization that carries on the tradition of leadership and service exemplified by Ms. Coles, who retired last year from the nonprofit organization TERI following a career of service promoting higher education access locally and nationally.

Under the direction of Vice President Gregson, MWCC's Division of Access & Transition provides a host of academic college and career awareness services to help students successfully advance through middle and high school and into the college of their choice. The division serves 3,500 students each year in Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, Winchendon, Athol and other communities while operating almost entirely on federal state and local grants. Programs include the pioneering dual-enrollment programs Gateway to College, and most recently, the Pathways Early College Innovation School.

Ms. Gregson has been active in state, regional and national TRIO organizations serving as a board member for the Massachusetts Educational Opportunity Association, the New England Educational Opportunity Association, and the Council for Opportunity in Education.

She was a member of Governor Patrick's Readiness Project and is a member of the statewide Dropout Prevention and Recovery Commission. She is an active member of the Massachusetts Dual Enrollment Advisory Team and helped create its regulations for funding and programming. She partnered with the Fitchburg Public School system and the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships to establish a computer lab and student success center, and has worked with local communities to develop summer programming for area youth.

The award was presented during MEOA's annual conference on October 28.

MWCC Receives Eight NCMPR Awards for Communications Excellence 

NCMPR brochureThe National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, District 1, has awarded eight Medallion Awards for excellence in communications to Mount Wachusett Community College.

During the NCMPR District 1 annual conference in Providence, R.I. in October, MWCC's Marketing and Communications department received three gold awards, four silver awards and one bronze award for marketing and public relations projects created over the past year.

MWCC received gold medallion awards in the category of Communications Success Story, for media relations and news coverage of the dedication ceremony of the Northeast Veteran Training & Rehabilitation Center on campus, and in the Notes/Cards/Invitations and Flyers/Brochures categories for the graphic designs of an invitation to a college reception at the Museum of Russian Icons and for the NCMPR conference brochure.

MWCC received silver medallion awards in the Magazine category, for the summer and fall 2010 issues of CareerFocus; in the Specialty Advertising Campaign category, for environmentally friendly bamboo pens; in the Original Photography category for a photograph of a student; and in the Computer-Generated Illustration category, for an energy management photo composite. The college earned a bronze award in the Online Marketing/Advertising category for a web advertisement.

Marketing Director Nichole Carter and Public Relations Director Janice O'Connor served as co-chairs of the Medallion Awards, with assistance from Peggy Dow, department clerk, Dana Armstrong, web coordinator/photographer, Stephanie Pinto, graphic design coordinator, and Robin Duncan, vice president. In this capacity, MWCC took the leadership role of coordinating judging by an indepdent panel of communications professionals from the region.

Judges included: Mary Lourdes Burke, chief communications officer at HealthAlliance Hospital, Leominster Campus; Andres Caamano, senior news editor/NIE director at The Gardner News; Averil Capers, director of marketing and research at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette; Tim Carelli, vice president of sales, Travers Printing; Ed Collier, of Ed Collier Photography; Al Cotton, director of corporate communications, Nypro, Inc.; Tisha Geeza, senior account executive, Davis Advertising; Abby Guinard, president/creative director, Barbanel Design, Inc.; Lisa Lastella, marketing and communications coordinator, Heywood Hospital; Jim Pond, creative director, Compassed; Rob Simpson, president, Robert Simpson Associates; Joanne Walsh, communications specialist, Brookfield Renewable Power, U.S. Operations; and Matt Ward, president & CEO, InConcert Web Solutions, Inc.

The judges culled through more than 300 submissions in 41 categories to select the winning entries. NCMPR's District 1 encompasses community colleges in the eastern U.S. from Maine to the District of Columbia, as well as the maritime provinces of Canada and the United Kingdom. An affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges, the NCMPR is the only organization of its kind that exclusively represents marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges.

Joseph Stiso Named to National Board for Community College Development Officers

Joseph Stiso, associate vice president for institutional advancement at MWCC has been named to the 2011 Board of Directors for the Council for Resource Development (CRD), based in Washington, DC. He will serve a one-year term on programming and audit committees.

CRD represents over 1,600 community college resource development officers at more than 730 two-year colleges, and is an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges. Members include the grant development and management officers, college foundation executive directors, alumni officers, major and planned gifts officers, and faculty, staff, and presidents who engage in activities to raise resources to support the mission of the nation's community colleges.

Mr. Stiso leads the college's efforts in grant development and institutional research and has worked at MWCC for 18 years. During the past four years, the college has secured more than $24 million in grants from federal, state, and foundation sources. This spring, he led a CRD training program for development officers from across the nation.

"As community colleges strive to fulfill our society's goals to enrich our communities through workforce training and college degree attainment, we are thrilled that Joe will help guide CRD's strategic vision to provide the gold standard in professional development and advocacy for our members," said Polly Binns, CRD executive director.

Upcoming Events

The Student Government Association has begun its annual Thanksgiving food drive to benefit MWCC students in need of assistance.  Donations of non-perishable food will be accepted through Nov. 17 in the Student Life office, room 151, or in the grocery cart on the first floor near the SGA booth. Monetary donations also will be accepted to go toward the purchase of gift certificates to a grocery store. Each student on the list to receive assistance will receive a $20 gift certificate along with a box filled with food. Any additional food items will be donated to the Gardner Community Action Committee. Checks may be made out to MWCC-SGA and delivered to Sandy Arsenault in the student life office. For additional information, call (978) 630-9133.
The fall Student Life Film Festival will continue on Wednesday, Nov. 10 with Smoke Signals, the first film to have been written, produced, directed and acted entirely by Native Americans. The film premiered at Sundance, where it won the audience award and the filmmakers' trophy. The screening, in celebratiion of November as national Native American Heritage Month, will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the North Café.

Students interested in learning about the spring 2011 course Introduction to Europe are invited to attend an information session with Professor Bonnie Toothaker on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon in room 361. This three-credit, multi-faceted course allows students the opportunity to experience the cultures of England and France through short-term travel. Classroom coursework will culminate with a 10-day trip to London and Paris in May.

An American Red Cross Blood Drive will take place Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Commons Area. To register, call the Health Services office at (978) 630-9136. Walk-ins are welcome.
MWCC, the Montachusett Opportunity Council, and Cleghorn Neighborhood Center are seeking volunteers to participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) to prepare income taxes for taxpayers who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Computer-literate volunteers are needed who are willing to obtain IRS certification after successful completion of approximately four to eight hours of training in both tax law and income tax preparation. Prospective volunteers are invited to attend a one-hour introductory session at the Gardner campus on Wednesday, Nov. 17 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in room 250, or from 5 to 6 p.m. in Room 240. For more information, contact Vice President Jacqueline Feldman at  (978) 630-9309 or Professor John Reilly at (978) 630-9296.

The hustle and bustle of Christmas in New York City comes to the Theatre at the Mount stage in Silver Bells (It's Christmas Time in the City). This traditional-meets-untraditional holiday spectacular features dazzling sets, stunning costumes, Broadway-style dance, favorite holiday songs, the elegance and excitement of Times Square, Radio City Music Hall and St. Patrick's Cathedral, and a visit from Santa himself! Conceived and directed by Chris Casello, Silver Bells features a talented cast of more than 60 singers and dancers. Performances are Nov. 26, 27, and Dec. 3 and 4 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 28 and Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. Evening tickets are $20, matinee tickets are $15, and tickets for children age 16 and under are $10. Advance reservation is strongly recommended. For tickets, call the box office at (978) 632-2403 or go online at

"Work in Glass," an exhibit by Cushing Academy students Zachary Mafera and Alanna Priest, is on exhibit in the East Wing Gallery through Dec. 1. A reception will take place Tuesday, Nov. 30 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the gallery. Regular hours are Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Fitness & Wellness Center will host an open house to celebrate its 15th anniversary on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will include raffle prizes and special membership offers. In addition to new exercise machines installed this summer, the Center houses a 25-yard pool, a multi-purpose area that consists of three full-size basketball courts, which can also be used for volleyball, badminton, tennis and other activities, and offers more than 50 group exercise classes each week. For more information, call (978) 630-9212.

The LaChance Library is offering extended hours at the end of this semester. The library will be open on Saturday, Dec 4 and Saturday, Dec. 11 from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. to accommodate students and others. 

MWCC is offering Information Sessions on a number of academic programs. Upcoming sessions will take place on the following dates: Accelerated Business Administration Transfer Degree: Nov. 16, 3 to 4 p.m., Gardner campus, room 125; Clinical Laboratory Science: Nov. 17, 3 to 4 p.m., Heywood Hospital Laboratory Education Area; Complementary Health Care/Physical Therapist Assistant: Nov. 19, 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, room 125; Dental Hygiene: Nov. 17, 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, room W11; Energy Management: Nov. 18, 3 to 4 p.m., Devens campus; Nursing A.S. Degree: Dec. 7, 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, room 204; and Practical Nursing Certificate: Nov. 23, 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, room 125. In addition, small group information sessions are offered daily Monday through Thursday beginning at 3 p.m. Prospective students are asked to call the Enrollment Center at (978) 630-9284 (TTY (978) 632-4916), or send an email to
Archived issues of Mount Wachusett Community College e-News can be found online at To submit to the MWCC e-News or request coverage for your event, contact the Public Relations Office at (978) 630-9547. 
Janice O'Connor
Director of Public Relations
Mount Wachusett Community College
(978) 630-9547