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Spring 2014 Convocation Launches New Semester

Submitted by on February 4, 2014 – 7:18 pm
Several new employees were welcomed to the college during the January convocation.

Several new employees were welcomed to the college during the January convocation.

Several new employees were welcomed to the college during the January convocation.

Student retention and faculty and staff diversity were the themes of the spring convocation held Tuesday, January 22, 2014 in the David Hartleb Technology Center. Hundreds of faculty and staff gathered for this twice-yearly tradition.

President Lane Glenn welcomed the participants before outlining changes they can expect to see in the curriculum. Beginning in the fall all new associate degree seeking students must meet the requirements of a new Core Academic Skills Initiative before graduating. Under this new initiative, every student will have to complete at least one course designed to be intensive in written communication, oral communication, global awareness, information literacy, quantitative reasoning, or science and technology.

The college’s faculty, in consultation with employers and four-year universities, has determined that these skills are vital for students to be successful in their further education, in their professions, and in their role as citizens.

This change, he said, has been at least five years in the making.

“This is a tremendous step forward for Northern Essex’s commitment to general education,” he said.

While at first blush this would suggest a new layer of complexity to academic advising, he says, the Degree Works software will eventually make it easier to figure academic requirements.

In other retention news President Glenn noted that according to Achieving the Dream data, community colleges lose their students early in the semester – usually within the first few weeks. NECC is addressing this using a variety of measures. Northern Essex has employed the Early Alert Program which allows faculty to flag students in danger of dropping classes and the College Success Program, which is a three-credit course that teaches student success skills. NECC is also improving its career preparation of students. NECClink, an online career service, gives employers a way of reaching out to future employees and interns. Conversely, it gives students a way to learn of employment opportunities and internships.

Acknowledging that convocation came on the heels of Martin Luther King Day, President Glenn quoted the civil rights leader and said that in terms of diversity Northern Essex isn’t “where we want to be”. Calling it “Diversity at NECC: The Next Generation,” he said it was time for the college to pause and exam its faculty and staff recruitment, hiring, and retention.

Under the direction of Linda Meccouri, NECC’s dean of professional development, each table of attendees was invited to participate in a group exercise where they explored possible recruitment and hiring practices as well as deterrents to bringing more Latino faculty and staff to NECC. With the assistance of table facilitators, the ideas and suggestions were shared with all in attendance.This brainstorming data will be compiled by Professional Development and made available to the college community.

President Glenn also welcomed a number of new faculty and staff including Jayme Haddad, academic advisor; Cheryl Charest, assistant professor of medical assisting; Scott Weber, professor of health information technology; Kathleen Pucci, assistant professor of nursing; Angela Bowers, assistant professor and program coordinator of medical imaging; Jiri George Kucera, assistant professor of mathematics; Il “Johnny” Yoon, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics and engineering. Patricia Portanova, assistant professor of English; Michelle Carter, instructor of art; and Sarah Comiskey, administrative assistant in institutional advancement.