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Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees
Minutes of Meeting (Official) – Sept. 2, 2020

A meeting of the Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees was held via a Zoom Teleconference at 5:00 pm.

Present

Ms. Borislow
Mr. Cox (Joined at 5:12 pm)
Mr. Forman
Mr. Guilmette
Mr. Linehan

Ms. McLaughlin (Departed at 5:30 pm)
Ms. O’Rorke (Departed at 5:40 pm)
Ms. Paley Nadel

Ms. Quiles
Ms. Worden

Absent

Ms. Fernandez

Also Present 

President Glenn   

Call to Order

Chairwoman Borislow called the meeting to order at 5:05 p.m and asked for a roll call of attendance.  With a quorum present, Chairwoman Borislow began opening remarks by recognizing past Chairman, Trustee Jeff Linehan, for his many years of dedicated service to the NECC Board of Trustees and especially for the last several years as Chairman of the Board.  She thanked him for his leadership and guidance over the last few years.  President Glenn also thanked Trustee Linehan for his service to the college and provided a few pictures of Mr. Linehan at several college events.  He noted that Mr. Linehan has agreed to continue to serve until his replacement is named.

Approval of Minutes

On a Motion by Trustee Linehan, seconded by Trustee Forman, it was voted unanimously by roll call vote to approve the June 3, 2020 and July 1, 2020 minutes as presented.

Correspondence

There was none.

Unfinished Business

There was none.

Education Report

Academic Plans for Fall (ADM-3639-090220)

President Glenn called upon Dr. William Heineman, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs to provide the Education Report. 

Dr. Heineman noted that faculty have put in a herculean effort this summer in preparation for the most unique fall semester in the history of NECC.  In an effort to maximize the safety of our students and employees, the college will be implementing a “Max Online” fall semester with limited on-campus courses.  He noted that the decision to shift to mostly online was also influenced by the results of an NECC student survey in late spring 2020.  The student survey respondents noted that the worst part of spring semester was changing the course mode in the middle of the semester, and a majority of students felt it was best to start and stay online this fall to prevent that uncertainty again. 

With the decision in place, the college needed to provide faculty with the proper tools and professional development so they could plan for their classes online this fall.  In the end, for the fall 2020 semester, all but 54 classes will be taught remotely.  A vast majority of the on-campus courses are in the STEM or Health fields and are “hands-on” so they cannot be conducted online.  The on-campus classes have been reduced in size whenever possible and scheduled in larger spaces to provide proper social distancing.  Faculty teaching online will be teaching from home, and for the on-campus courses, the faculty will, of course, be in the classroom.

Dr. Heineman noted that the second part of the academic plan was to prepare our students (both current and new) for a fully remote fall semester.  One major concern was determining if students had the proper computer hardware.  To address that issue, beginning in fall 2020, the college has implemented a laptop requirement for all students. In addition, recognizing the financial challenges students might face, the college also set up a laptop assistance program which was funded with $500K of Cares Act funding.  To date, over 550 students have sought financial assistance and completed an application for funding for a laptop, and approximately half of those students have been approved.

Another consideration for a fully remote semester was whether or not students had adequate internet access.  A relatively small number of students still had access issues.  To address this, the college’s Information Technology services department expanded the college’s WiFi capability into the parking lots so students may access the internet in their vehicles if necessary.  In addition, students have access to computers via expanded library hours which have been increased to 7 days a week.

The college also hired and trained a set of peer student ambassadors for the fall.  Student ambassadors will be working with College Navigators to help make connections with students in need.  The 16 ambassadors will be deployed to help their fellow students, and, in addition, the college has created a video that teaches students how to succeed in an online course.  And, of course, all of the college’s regular support services will continue to be available to students online.

Dr. Heineman also noted that students who will be coming to campus for courses have been notified so that they know and understand the social distancing rules that will be in place, and that they understand what their course will be like. Students will be asked to commit to the rules, and students are asked to take the “Knight Pledge” on the rules before they arrive on campus.  We have also worked with the union and faculty so that faculty can add this information to their syllabus. 

In closing, Dr. Heineman noted that college received approximately $1.6M in Cares Act funding to support students in need.  Since last spring, the college has dispersed about $1M of that funding.  He thanked the college’s Marketing and Communications staff who have done a great job telling our story this summer, and helped to raise additional funds.  Also, he thanked the wonderful efforts of the Academic and Student Affairs staff, the Return to Campus Task Force, Center for Professional Development, Center for Instructional Technology, Administration and Finance and the Advancement office staff for their spectacular collaboration on behalf of our students. 

Trustee Paley Nadel asked how the student ambassadors will work with faculty?  And how the faculty are doing?

Dr. Heineman noted the Ms. Audrey Ellis, Director of Student Success Management Systems has done a fabulous job and is personally in charge of the ambassadors.  The intent of the paid student ambassadors is to connect students to the college employee(s) who have the answers to their questions. Ambassadors will be paired up with staff Navigators to assist students who are having difficulty or have questions.  In terms of faculty, most of them faired very well last spring and all of them have been working very, very hard over the summer months to prepare for the fall.  Faculty are conducting office hours via Zoom, and a meeting with adjunct faculty was held this morning.  Dr. Heineman reported that a lot of faculty that are excited, but a number have said they are tired as they have worked all summer.   Hopefully, they will reenergize as the fall semester begins as most have noted that they are happy with the decision to go Max Online up front.  Overall, faculty are doing very well.

Trustee Worden asked for a status on enrollment.  Dr. Heineman noted that as of this morning, the college was down by about 11% FTE which sounds bad, but compared to college estimates last spring and the state of enrollment at other Mass. Community Colleges, an 11% decline is actually not so bad.  Obviously and not surprisingly, there is a lot of uncertainty for the fall, so we are watching enrollment closely.

Trustee Worden also asked about a Covid testing protocol.  President Glenn noted that since the college does not have residential facilities, it will not be regularly testing people because the college faculty/staff/students go right back into the community they live and work in every day.   The college is closely following Mass. Department of Higher Education and Mass. Department of Public Health guidelines. NECC also has contracted with Lawrence General Hospital for testing and contact tracing.

With no other questions, Chairwoman Borislow thanked Dr. Heineman for his detailed report. 

Report of Board Committees

There was none.

Report of Administration 

a)    Update on Return to Campus Plan (Verbal)

President Glenn noted that several all college Town Halls have been held since mid-March. At those events, he shared the Return to Campus plan, which is the result of the work of the Return to Campus Task Force, which is co-chaired by Chief Deb Crafts.  The plan is very comprehensive and detailed, but he cautioned that the timeline could change at any time given the rapidly evolving set of circumstances.  He thanked the Task Force members and the college community for their support and flexibility.

b)    FY21 Budget Update (Verbal)

President Glenn noted that Dr. Heineman shared that the college enrollment is currently down by 11% FTE.  The headcount is down by 7%.  The college leadership had projected a 10% drop in headcount, so they remain hopeful that the college will meet or do better than that projection.  He also noted that many other Massachusetts community colleges are reporting declines of between 20 and 30%. College staff have worked very hard to meet our enrollment projections.

President Glenn noted that there were some cost savings in FY20 because of remote teaching, learning, and work.  Those funds are greatly needed in FY21 to help close any gaps that we may see later this fall.  Dr. Glenn noted that the investments made when preparing for a Max Online fall semester may actually help NECC in the long run.  As a result of that work and online capability development, the college will have newly expanded  set of programs offered fully online.  The college received an additional $475K in funding from the federal government.  This funding was distributed to community colleges in particular based on Pell- eligible students and not just fulltime students.  This funding will help NECC with the investments Dr. Heineman mentioned earlier.  Very soon, the college leadership, in consultation with faculty and staff, will be making a decision on whether or not the college will extend Max Online for spring semester.  He noted that the college may be largely remote for the spring, but will be prepared to bring folks back in spring at some point if at all possible.

c)    Annual Giving at NECC (Verbal)

President Glenn introduced Allison Dolan-Wilson, Vice President of Institutional Advancement who provided a report on Annual Giving at NECC.

Ms. Dolan-Wilson noted that 6 and 7 figures donations are rare and are the result of a large pool of donor prospects from a large donor pipeline.  She wanted to share and update on the college’s annual giving for this year and the plans for next year.  NECC objectives for next year are to increase the number of donors, increase the pipeline, and to increase unrestricted support to NECC.  Those funds would be available to the college for its highest priorities.  Those unrestricted funds (the NECC Fund) support for greatest areas of need and appeals have been solicited by direct mail, email, and social media. Every year, the college also conducts major appeals such as the President’s Newsletter appeal, Giving Tuesday, end of calendar year mailings, and this year, there was a national second Giving Day due to Covid. 

This year, the solicitation process was better guided by greater segmentation and by driving communications more intentionally to donors.  Ms. Dolan Wilson then provided an overview of giving to NECC by donor category.  The institutional advancement office closely reviewed the frequency of donations by donor category such as new donors, alumni, student, and friends.  Giving by generational category and by month were also closely analyzed and reviewed for future planning.

Ms. Dolan Wilson noted that new NECC Fund donations back in FY16 showed a considerable increase due to Giving Tuesday and on campus dollar drop buckets.  The IA staff are working hard to increase donations from last year and hope to convert more donors to long-term loyal donors.  She also provided a brief fund comparison by fiscal year as well as statistics on the geographical reach/location of donors, the average increase of gift amounts (from $48 in FY19 to $136 in FY20), Alumni giving and engagement and the NECC Emergency Fund.

One focus for next year will be on Alumni giving which is typically not something that community colleges do well.  Instead of focusing solely on graduates, the potential donor pool will be expanded to include any past NECC enrollee who has completed 20 or more credits, but not necessarily graduated.  Overall Alumni engagement will also be a major focus and we hope to be able to better communication the message of our mission and what a wonderful resource NECC is for its community. 

And lastly, Ms. Dolan Wilson noted that looking ahead, the Institutional Advancement office has the following FY21 goals:  1) to improve donor experience by simplifying giving pages; 2) improve donor retention rate from 75% to 80%; 3) create a donor stewardship structure; 4) create a donor loyalty society; and 5) convert annual donors to planned giving donors. 

President Glenn thanked Vice President Dolan Wilson for all of her tremendous work during her first year at NECC.

d)    NECC 2020:  Strategic Plan (Verbal)

President Glenn noted that the strategic plan update will be included as part of the NECHE update.

e)    NECHE 2020:  Accreditation Self-Study (ADM-3640-090220)

President Glenn noted that the NECHE site visit was scheduled for October, 2020, but has been rescheduled to April, 2021 due to the pandemic.  The executive summary included in the board packets is a summary of the full100-page self-study document.  The summary provides a list of the strengths and challenges noted for each of the 9 standards.  These strengths and challenges are what the college’s faculty and staff deemed to be what we are particularly good at as well as things the college needs to work on in the future.  The summary also includes projections on what we anticipate doing in the next several years to build upon those strengths.  This part of the document is the foundation for the college’s next strategic planning process.  Due to the calendar change, the strategic planning process will commence next fall, however the current strategic plan still has quite a lot of momentum going and still some work to do, so the planning process will carry into 2021.

f)    Haverhill Campus (Verbal)

President Glenn noted that the recent Merrimack Valley Magazine recently showcased Dr. Jennifer Mezquita, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs in Part I of its series “Owning Greatness” which is a series on women leaders in the Merrimack Valley who seek to innovate and transform lives in the valley.  The magazine also covered a terrific article on NECC’s culinary arts certificate program slated to open this fall under the direction of the program director, Denis Boucher.  Classes will be open this fall.  MassHire is also expected to move into the Heights at Haverhill building in September.

g)    Lawrence Campus (Verbal)

A Lawrence Campus update will be provided at the October 2020 meeting.

h)    NECC Board of Trustees Retreat – January 6 or 20th, 2-6PM, Location TBD (Verbal)

President Glenn asked Cheryl Goodwin to provide an update on the proposed Trustee Retreat.  She noted that the plan was for a retreat either January 6 or January 20th from 2-6PM with location TBD.  The retreat would focus on the data and analytics from a trustee self-assessment survey administered this fall, a review of the legal aspects of trusteeship, and also provide some training for a new NECC Board Portal where all documents will be stored and accessed in the future.  Ms. Goodwin noted that she would email trustees to see which date worked best for most trustees.  More information would be forthcoming.

New Business

       a) Personnel Actions

1. New Appointments-Affirmations (ADM-3641-090220)

 

2. New Appointments-Approvals (ADM-3642-090220)

 

3. New Appointments-Approval-ADDENDUM (ADM-3646-090220)

President Glenn noted that there were 15 employee affirmations (hired over the summer months), one new approval and an additional approval addendum for consideration.  Chairwoman Borislow asked to approve all personnel actions under one roll call vote.  With that said, the college is seeking approval for 17 new appointments.

On a Motion by Trustee Forman, seconded by Trustee Worden, by roll call  vote, it was voted unanimously to affirm 15 personnel actions as listed in Addendum A and approve 2 additional personnel actions Addendum B.

Chairwoman Borislow noted that related to Personnel Actions, it has come to the board’s attention that approval of personnel really doesn’t need    to come to the board level.  The role/ responsibility/authority can and should be delegated to the President of the college as the chief executive officer of the institution.  She noted that she has sat on many boards over her professional career, and hiring/firing/approval of personnel has never typically been an agenda item for a board.   She noted that she strongly believes that this is something that should be delegated to President Glenn.  At her request, President Glenn researched the approval and delegation of authority with legal counsel.  It is within the purview of the board to provide the President with the ability to approve personnel in the future.  In order to do so, Chairwoman Borislow asked President Glenn to prepare a motion for the board for consideration.  After careful consideration and input from the Mass. Community College Legal Counsel, it was deemed appropriate.  President Glenn noted that, as it turns out, he learned that many of the community colleges have delegated this authority to their president years ago.  With that said, President Glenn read the proposed motion.  The motion states as follows:

“MOTION OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES

NORTHERN ESSEX COMMUNITY COLLEGE

MOVED:

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 15A, Section 22, the Board of Trustees of Northern Essex Community College has exclusive authority and responsibility for establishing those policies necessary for the administrative management of personnel, staff services and the general business of the College.  Furthermore, the law provides that the Board of Trustees may delegate to the President of its institution any of the powers and responsibilities specifically enumerated therein.

Accordingly, the Board moves to delegate to President Lane Glenn its authority and responsibility over personnel matters, including the appointment, promotion, transfer, and dismissal of all personnel.

This delegation of authority shall be effective immediately and shall remain in effect until such time as the Board modifies or withdraws said delegation.”

Recorded by the Board Secretary as added Agenda Item #8a4:  ADM-3647-090220.

Date:  September 2, 2020.

Chairwoman Borislow asked for a motion to move this forward and asked for any discussion.  Trustee Paley Nadel noted that given the current discussion and emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion, it would be good idea for trustees to perhaps receive an annual report of the faculty and administration personnel actions so they are aware of the composition and how the college is moving forward with that work.   President Glenn agreed and said he would be happy to provide such a report annually.

On a Motion by Trustee Guilmette, seconded by Trustee Worden, by roll call  vote, it was voted unanimously to approve the delegation of authority to President Glenn its authority and responsibility over personnel matters, including the appointment, promotion, transfer, and dismissal of all personnel.

      b) Grants

             President Glenn provided a brief review of the three grants for consideration and noted that they can be taken for a vote collectively. 

            All Trustees   agreed. With no questions, Chairwoman Borislow asked for a roll call vote.

           On a Motion by Trustee Worden, seconded by Trustee Forman, by roll call vote, it was voted unanimously to approve Grant motions agenda

           items  8b1 thru 8b3 as listed below.

1)   Gallaudet University Regional Center-East Grant     (ADM-3643-090220)

2)   Massachusetts Department of Higher Education:     (ADM-3644-090220)

       STEM Starter Academy Grant

3)    United States Naval Community College Partnership (ADM-3645-090220)

Other Business

In closing, President Glenn wanted to introduce the college’s new Deputy Chief Dr. Ruben Quesada.

Adjournment

Being no other business, Chairman Borislow thanked the entire leadership team for their tremendous work.  The meeting adjourned at 6:17PM.

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