NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Howard Dean talks at NECC

Howard Dean stands at the front of the room speaking to an audience.NECC Newsroom

Howard Dean speaks in the Hartleb Tech Center at NECC.

Howard Dean, former six-term governor of Vermont and 2004 Democratic primary presidential candidate, spoke to NECC students Wednesday, Sept. 24.

“This is a new program, a speakers series, ‘Movers, Shakers and Opinion makers,’ and he’s the one who inaugurated it today,” said Richard Padova, a government professor at NECC and coordinator of the series. 

“I hope to have two more, at least two more between now and April of 2015.”

William Cox, the chairman of the NECC Board of Trustees, introduced the event. Padova gave the formal introduction for Dean. 

“I looked him up on the internet, basically, and I located where he works, where he’s a consultant, sent him an email, and then made all the arrangements with his secretary. There was a lot of emails and phone calls back and forth… details had to be worked out, coming up with the day and a time,” said Padova.

Dean is known for founding the grassroots organization Democracy for America and for revolutionizing the use of the internet in campaigning. 

He graduated Yale with a B.A. in political science in 1971, and he received his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1978.

“[Padova] just wrote me out of the blue. I don’t usually do things like this, and I wasn’t going to. But then it turned out I was in Boston last night, and as soon as I realized that, and this was practically right on the way home, and I figured ‘it’s an extra two hours, so what?’” said Dean.

Dean opened the talk with optimism, and he held that optimism throughout.

“The world is actually getting better… it’s hard to see that when you’re 20 years old,” said Dean.

Dean spoke about how students of the generation often known as “millennials,” a generation Dean calls the, “first globals,” have changed society and can change society. 

“Community colleges are a big deal. We talked about this generation being disrupters in using technology. Community colleges are the disrupters of higher education.

“Higher education is much too expensive, and there’s a market solution, and it’s places like this. Kids who come here and pay like 4,000 dollars for a year’s tuition, or whatever it is — something like that, are going to force four year colleges to drop their prices. And I think that’s the way it should be,” said Dean.

Dean spoke about how the new generation uses the internet, online petitions and communication, to enact change within society. He touched on points including net neutrality, intellectual property rights, inner city education and economic systems. 

NECC students were given the opportunity to ask questions after the talk. Students brought up topics such as the Citizens United decision, U.S. prison systems, police militarization and Edward Snowden.

When speaking about how to be successful, Dean said. “I think A., you have to work very hard and B., always listen to your inner sense of right and wrong. And even that won’t be good enough. I’ve been blessed in three ways.

“I had a great mentor, all of them were women actually. I had two women chiefs of staff who weren’t afraid to tell me what I needed to do. And I had a wife who didn’t care about politics, which turned out to be a great blessing.

“She didn’t care if I succeeded in politics or not, she just wanted me to be true to who I was. And when I wasn’t quite strong enough to do that, she reminded me. And that’s a big deal,” Dean said. 

“You really need someone with you on the journey who’s going to keep you from making decisions that you might otherwise make that wouldn’t be right,” said Dean. 

“It’s pretty unusual to find somebody, and I’m not one of those somebodies, who doesn’t cut corners. Or doesn’t want to cut corners. It’s really tempting, and you’re almost always better off in the long run if you don’t.”

Related Articles