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NECC: 50 Years of Community Leadership

Submitted by on July 8, 2011 – 12:15 pm

Over the years NECC has built upon the vision of the political and business leaders who fought to have the school sited in Haverhill in 1961. President Harold Bentley shared the vision and immersed himself in the community demonstrating the importance of the word community in community college.

The Early Years

NECC quickly responded to the needs of the community. Programs in liberal arts, business, engineering, registered nursing, and human services were developed. These programs were based upon the model of preparing graduates for employment and transfer to bachelors programs.

Young, idealistic faculty and staff were attracted to the college. Their energy created a continuous discovery of opportunities to address the needs of underserved students. In the early ’70s, NECC was a pioneer in offering one of the first ESL programs in higher education in Massachusetts designed to address the needs of the diverse and changing immigrant population. At the same time, the Discovery Program was initiated focusing on those individuals who, at the time, were considered to be nontraditional and high-risk students.

NECC Turns to Lawrence

Lawrence experienced an influx of immigrants who lacked education and employment opportunities. By the mid ‘80s, the City of Lawrence suffered economic and social tensions, which resulted in riots. The city’s political and business leaders called upon NECC to get involved and help address these underlying problems. Thus the drive to develop a Lawrence campus was initiated.

Just as President Bentley immersed himself in the community and built support for a rapidly growing college, President Dimitry provided a similar level of energy and leadership in Lawrence. Key academic programs were moved to that campus in the ’90s as a way of making them more accessible to Lawrence residents.

Focus on Student Success Continues

President Hartleb’s tenure, beginning in the mid ’90s, was characterized by a focus on the measurement of student success and learning outcomes. He directed the effort to fully involve the college community in planning and problem solving. Available resources were directed toward engaging and meeting the needs of the growing Latino population.

NECC Making a Difference

There are thousands who have attended NECC whose lives have been changed forever. NECC has provided students with an encouraging and supportive environment to develop confidence, direction, and hope for productive futures.

NECC will remain the most important institution in the region for providing opportunity and for improving the quality of life of individuals as well as for the entire community. To remain true to its history, it is critical for the college to be actively engaged in an increasingly diverse community.

Dr. Paul M. Bevilacqua, vice president and
dean of academic affairs emeritus