Pat Muraca: Unlikely, fruitful alliance
Not many people would think that the President of a liberal arts college and the CEO of a biotech company would form the strong bond that I have with Mary K. Grant. The news of her departure from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts compelled me to reflect on our unlikely partnership and how it came to be.
After 12 years at MCLA, President Grant will leave behind some wonderful legacies that we all hope to see carried forward by her successor. Perhaps the most unexpected, was her incredible legacy in STEM education (science, technology, engineering, mathematics.)
President Grant spent a great deal of time, money, and effort investing in the sciences at MCLA. The pinnacle of her hard work, along with the robust STEM curriculum, is the state-of-the-art Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation.
President Grant is a visionary and a wonderful partner for the life sciences industry. In addition to fighting for the funding and construction of the Feigenbaum Center for nearly her entire tenure, President Grant reached out to policymakers, business leaders, and thought leaders to talk about where our industry would be five, 10, 15 years from now. MCLA hosted its annual STEM Summit for many years to establish relationships for the improvement of STEM.
President Grant had a genuine interest in what businesses like Nuclea Biotechnologies did, how we did it, and the skills workers needed for the field. She knew the role that MCLA played in preparing the workforce with the skills required for the life sciences. Our public-private partnership began here and continued to grow over the years.
Our first major collaboration with MCLA included the formation of a new high-performance computing cluster arrangement to advance scientific research in Western Massachusetts. This allowed Nuclea Biotechnologies and MCLA to significantly expand computing power and allow complex analysis of mathematical, biological, and chemical information. The partnership was a boon to bioinformatics and educational research in the Berkshires. It facilitated a marriage between computer science skills training and the sciences.
President Grant understood that a love for science, technology, engineering, and math has to be fostered from a young age. She has done a great job of hosting programs for K-12 at MCLA through the Berkshire STEM Pipeline Network to encourage those who are interested to pursue a degree in the field. President Grant asked me to participate in MCLA’s High School Science Fair to talk to students about the life sciences and different careers options in the field.
Part of what united Mary and I is a shared love for the Berkshires. Both of us returned to our roots to invest in the communities that had invested in us and to continue our careers here. President Grant was the first MCLA alumna to serve as president and I decided to headquarter my biotech company in Pittsfield. There is much to be said for the quality of life that the Berkshires offers.
The University of North Carolina at Asheville is lucky to have her. I can say with certainty that life sciences in Western Mass. are better off thanks to President Grant. I think I speak for many in the STEM community when I say what a pleasure it was to work with President Grant and how grateful we are for her dedication to the life sciences.
Patrick Muraca is the president and CEO of Nuclea Biotechnologies and a resident of Pittsfield. Window-
Grant is a
wonderful partner for the life