Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees
Minutes of Meeting (Official) – October 7, 2020
A meeting of the Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees was held via a Zoom Teleconference at 5:00 PM.
Ms. Fernandez (Joined at 5:10PM)
Ms. Quiles (Joined at 5:05PM)
Ms. Paley Nadel
Call to Order
Chairman Linehan called the meeting to order at 5:02 PM.
Approval of Minutes
On a Motion by Trustee Linehan, seconded by Trustee Cox, it was voted unanimously to approve both the April 1, 2020 regular meeting minutes and the Sept. 2, 2020 meeting minutes as presented.
Trustee Quiles joined the meeting at 5:05PM
There was none.
President Glenn noted that he was very pleased to introduce NECC’s new Student Trustee Mr. Tim Dodier. Mr. Dodier is currently a full-time Physics and Engineering major, a PACE student, and a student athlete. Tim will graduate in the Spring 2022 with six degrees from NECC in Electrical Engineering, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Plastic Engineering, and Engineering Science with focus on electronics before transferring to a four-year institution. The board welcomed Mr. Dodier.
Trustee Fernandez joined the meeting at 5:10PM.
President Glenn then introduced the following new employees:
Anthony DeGregorio, Director of Fiscal Services and Comptroller in the Accounting and Finance office;
Patty Gauron, Executive Director of Human Resources and formally from Holy Family Hospital;
Nancy Jordan, an Accountant III in the Accounting and Finance office;
Dermot Luddy, Staff Assistant in the Liberal Arts department; and
Maxine Rice, Human Resources Specialist in the HR office
The board welcomed the new employees.
a) Sabbatical Report: American Sign Language in the Clinical Setting (ADM-3648-100720)
President Glenn introduced Professor Diana Mele who provided a report on her sabbatical on American Sign Language in the Clinical Setting. Ms. Mele thanked the administration for this opportunity. She noted that she has been working in the Deaf Communications and mental health counseling disciplines for years and continues to love both disciplines particularly her work as a clinical therapist. Both of these disciplines have afforded her the opportunity to teach, and the sabbatical provided her with an opportunity to meld both of those careers together to enhance and properly equip students to work in clinical studies and to serve the deaf community. Her project allowed her to develop educational tools for students to develop the skill sets they need. It also helped to address the unfortunate ongoing shortage in the field of deaf interpreters.
The project began with the shortage in mind. The objective was to collaborate with colleagues to develop students’ linguistic competency and expand their knowledge of mental health terminology in both English and ASL by developing tools and materials for each. The project was researched and participants/collaborators recruited. A clinical terminology glossary was created as was a “Patient Bill of Rights” video including a transcription/translation of the materials. Video editing and closed captioning were completed and streamlined in order to ensure ADA accessibility. And lastly, sound (voice-over) was added to captioning to insure accessibility for all viewers.
The “Patient Bill of Rights” video was developed specifically for members of the Deaf Community. This accessible video was then shared with Mental Health facilities serving Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing members as well as a Residential School for the Deaf with the goal of enhancing consumer rights awareness. The linguistic model interpreter used in both video creations was a native ASL user and a certified teacher of ASL. In closing, Ms. Mele provided a brief sample video of her work.
Trustee Forman thanked Ms. Mele for her wonderful report, and asked how many students are taking American Sign Language. Ms. Mele noted that enrollment has morphed over the years. When she began her career, she noted there were only 2 sections and they were usually full. But for those enhancing their training, the classes were smaller with about 12 students. Other classes in the program typically have 22 to 28 students enrolled, and she also wanted to note that in Massachusetts, the ASL class meets the foreign language requirement.
President Glenn reminded Trustees that for years, NECC has been a partner institution for Gallaudet University and one of five Gallaudet centers. When requirements changed a few years ago mandating a bachelor’s degree, college staff moved very quickly toward creating a 2+2 program so that the college could continue this partnership.
With no other questions, President Glenn thanked Ms. Mele for her report.
Board Chair Update
Chairwoman Borislow provided a brief update. Since her appointment last month, and over the last four weeks, she has met with most board members individually. She thanked each member for the time and for the opportunity to ask a few questions and get to know them a little better. Their insights, she noted, are invaluable to where the board and school is headed, and the board is fortunate to have so many talented members. Ms. Borislow noted that her hope is to seek and create more engagement for all members of the board. Moving forward, board meetings will be scheduled from 5 to 6:30PM, although she did anticipate most of them only lasting about an hour, and the plan is to develop more opportunities for committees/committee work. Lastly, Chairwoman Borislow said she is looking forward to the January Board Retreat where the board can highlight opportunities that will continue to move the school forward. She also noted that she was hopeful that the retreat can be conducted in-person, but it would depend on the most recent local, state, and federal/CDC guidelines. Again, she thanked the board for their support, and noted that she feels a deep and wonderful pride for NECC’s leadership, faculty, staff, and students.
Report of Board Committees
Audit & Finance Committee
Sub-Committee Chair, Marianne Paley Nadel reported that the sub-committee met. Typically, this is the meeting that the committee would generally review and bring forward a supplemental budget to the full board for consideration. However, since the state is delayed in the budget process due to Covid-19, the FY21 supplemental budget is not yet finalized. The college leadership will meet with the Sub-Committee when the process is finalized. Ms. Paley Nadel did report, however, that enrollment for the Fall semester was better than expected, and the additional support from the CARE Act funds helped the approach to the budgetary challenge which has been overall very positive.
President Glenn then asked Dr. Jennifer Mezquita, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs to provide a detailed report on the Fall enrollment. As a preface to her report, Dr. Glenn reminded the board that enrollment is one of two primary drivers at public community colleges, with the budget appropriation being the second. Of the 28 public colleges and universities in the Commonwealth, and of the 15 community colleges, NECC’s decline in enrollment was less than most at -4% in Headcount noting that the average was around 15% (or more). A variety of factors fed into the decline, but NECC’s coordinated outreach and communication helped to keep the enrollment drop to a minimum. The more important figure in terms of budget is FTE. He thanked the college’s leadership team and the Trustees for their continued support as staff navigate the many factors that have gone into moving toward remote learning.
Dr. Mezquita then provided a brief overview of enrollments by type as of the college’s freeze date. Some highlights included:
1) While Fall enrollments have declined over the last three years, we continue to fare better than our counterparts with a 4% decline.
2) The college’s Continuing student population dropped quite a bit from 2018 to 2019 (-10%), however, the rate of decline from 2019 to 2020 was -4%. This ease in the decrease can be attributed to the student services efforts and how the college communicated with students during the last few months. Dr. Mezquita noted that the work has really paid off and resulted in retaining students.
3) New students (never been to college before) also showed a decline in 2020 (-4%) after demonstrating an increase back in 2019.
4) Stop-In students (those who decided to reengage with NECC after being away for one semester) also declined this fall from last year.
5) Transfer students demonstrated the most change with a 33% decline from a year ago. The dynamic for this student population is that they tended to stick with what they were familiar with, so the college had fewer students transfer to us from other institutions.
6) High School/Early College students also “stuck with what they knew” and continued to enroll in college classes at a greater rate from years past. This pool of students increased by more than 40% from a year ago.
Trustee Forman asked what the enrollment difference was between spring of 2020 and fall 2020. President Glenn noted that numbers for spring to fall are available and that Dr. Mezquita would bring that information forward at another meeting. Typically, colleges have larger enrollments in the fall semester and that is the barometer for budget setting. Dr. Glenn did note that one of the challenges nationwide right now is that the students who are most vulnerable are the ones who are the most impacted during the pandemic. Back in the spring, NECC took immediate steps to help those students as much as possible and to try to keep them enrolled. For example, staff recognized that financial aid applications (FASFA forms) were down considerably (14%) and outreach to those populations was necessary. “We are really worried about who we are missing right now. And the workforce will be in a lot of pain in few years from now if we don’t get students back on campus” noted President Glenn. He also noted that there will be some very intentional outreach over the next year to get students enrolled, and he will be looking for Trustees to help with that outreach.
Trustee Worden asked if students had been surveyed regarding their online experience and how it is working. President Glenn noted that the EAB Navigate software has an instant polling feature which has helped staff to do some surveying. Staff have been able to check-in with students and refer them to the Student Ambassadors for assistance. He noted that we can always do more, but it is challenging. Dr. Mezquita also reiterated that EAB Navigate has been helpful to gain insight on how students feel working remotely. Many students are enjoying online classes and feedback on the Student Ambassadors has been positive.
Trustee Fernandez asked what certificates or degrees are enrolling fewer students this year? What can we do to foreshadow problem areas in future years, and how can we as Trustees help with that? President Glenn thanked Trustee Fernandez for the question. He noted that he didn’t have enrollment by program readily available this evening, but would present that information at the next board meeting.
With no further questions, President Glenn thanked Dr. Mezquita for her report.
Report of Administration
a) FY21 Budget Status Report (Verbal)
President Glenn noted that the hope is that the State will have better idea of what they have to work with over the next few weeks, and that they will hopefully commit to level funding for FY21. The leadership team remains hopeful that the budget will be positive for NECC.
b) NECC 2020: Strategic Plan (Verbal)
Last year, Trustees received a brief demonstration on the EAB Navigate software, and President Glenn reported that it has been a real game changer for the college and students during the pandemic. The app allows faculty and advisors to effectively and efficiently communicate with students early on to see how they are doing. While we are still expanding our use on the product and getting better with using it, we also think that it has helped us particularly through the pandemic. Navigate was part of our ISE plan investment, and it has already paid some big dividends.
c) Haverhill Campus (Verbal)
STEM week is coming up which also involves advocating for STEM careers. NECC has a number of events planned during STEM week which is October 19 to 23. A large proportion of college programs qualify as a STEM program, and there are marvelous opportunities for STEM careers to be had. Lastly, President Glenn noted that work on the Behrakis Student Center is back on schedule and in full force.
d) Lawrence Campus (Verbal)
The St. Ann’s Church renovation project is still moving along. Senator Finegold has put $2M in bond bill to support that project if it happens. Meanwhile, a feasibility study for the project is nearly finished, and the college should have more information for the Board by the next meeting. As a reminder, the college has not committed itself to the project, but depending on the outcome, it might provide a good partnering opportunity for the college and the city of Lawrence.
e) Trustee Email Communications (ADM-3649-100720)
President Glenn noted and recognized the past challenges utilizing Trustee NECC email accounts. While the college administration wants to be respectful of Trustee time and understands that it can be inconvenient to use that account, we do require all Trustees to have and use an NECC Email account. Included in the board packet is the letter from legal counsel recommending that Trustees be issued and use those accounts. In the event a Trustees is asked to provide documentation on a subject or email, it would best if they only had used their NECC account, and not a personal device or email account. Dr. Glenn noted that if he or a college staff member communicates with a Trustee on a personal device, that device may have to be offered up during discovery in a litigation. With that said, he noted that the college will continue to send documents to Trustee NECC accounts, but will also send them to a personal account if requested. However, he noted, we ask that Trustees do not respond back from a personal email account. This check-in exercise will be revisited annually where Trustees can opt to use a personal account or not. In closing, President Glenn noted that Cheryl Goodwin will follow up with trustees on their decision.
f) “Creating More Pockets of Good: Fostering Innovation in Post-Pandemic Healthcare Education: An Innovation Playbook (Verbal)
President Glenn noted that he will share this information at next meeting.
g) Confirmed: Trustee Retreat: Wednesday, January 20, 2021, 2-6PM via Zoom
President Glenn noted that the Trustee Retreat has been confirmed for January 20, 2021 from 2-6PM with a location TBD. An agenda is being drafted and will be shared with Trustees prior to the event.
a) Motion to Approve Peer Recovery Specialist Certificate Program (ADM-3650-100720)
President Glenn noted that there was one certificate program presented for approval. This program will fill a valuable but unfortunate need in our communities around addiction recovery. This is a 16-credit certificate program.
On a Motion by Trustee Paley Nadel, seconded by Trustee Cox, by roll call vote, it was voted unanimously to approve the Peer Recovery Specialist Certificate program.
1) Northeast Regional STEM Network Collaborative Project (ADM-3651-100720)
President Glenn noted that there was one modest $500 grant to help the college support it’s STEM week programming.
On a Motion by Trustee Linehan, seconded by Trustee O’Rorke, by roll call vote, it was voted unanimously to approve the Northeast Regional STEM Network Collaborative Project grant in the amount of $500.
There was none.