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Convocation Sets Tone for Academic New Year

Submitted by on September 3, 2014 – 8:35 pm
NECC President Lane Glenn sporting a late summer beard addresses standing room only crowd at fall convocation.

NECC President Lane Glenn, sporting a late summer beard, addresses the standing room only crowd at fall convocation.

Student success and starfish were the themes of last week’s convocation welcoming dozens of faculty and staff to the 2014/2015 academic year.

Employees mingled and shared stories of their summer over a breakfast buffet. A Power Point presentation looped overhead featuring photos of faculty and staff and their personal  quotes on how they educate Northern Essex students.

President Lane Glenn opened the event calling attention to his recently grown beard. He shared comments he has received including one administrator asking if he had joined a boy band.   

How Do You Educate Students?

While one theme was whimsical, the other was quite serious. President Glenn quickly turned the standing room only crowd’s attention to the question posed in the Power Point and asked faculty and staff how they educate students. Executive Director of the Lawrence Campus and Community Relations Noemi Custodia-Lora joked she finds it helpful to feed the students while delivering important information, Deb LaValley of Academic Affairs said she enjoys helping students navigate the expansive Lawrence campus while English Professor Liz Espinoza said she finds it helpful to the students when she doesn’t try and micromanage them.

Preparing for NEASC

Wendy Shaffer, NECC dean of development, and Mark Reinhold, professor of natural science, addressed the status of the college’s Fifth-Year Interim Report that will be developed over the 2014-2015 academic year and submitted to the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) next summer. The two serve as co-chairs of both the college’s Strategic Planning efforts as well as the NEASC Team.  A group of faculty, staff, and administrators has begun the process of gathering information and data to complete this multi-part Report which enables the college community to engage in a continuous process of reflection, analysis, and improvement.

Photos by Mike Dean www.mikedeanphotos.comStarfish Leads to Success

Dawna Perez introduced the new Starfish Early Success program which replaces the Student Academic Progress report. It allows faulty to quickly and easily flag students who are in academic danger. It can also be used to send kudos to a student for a paper or assignment well done. She said there will be upcoming trainings led by Starfish coaches and professors Rebecca Rose and Mike Cross.

Civic Engagement Leans to Success

Dr. Paul Saint- Amand led a brief discussion on how civic engagements projects are being employed in the classroom to further the success of NECC students. Earth Day, Global warming, and cruelty to animals were all topics that certain faculty brought into the classroom for students to examine from different points of view.

Partnering with a Neighbor

Steve LaValley from Opportunity Works discussed its recent partnership with NECC. The organization which provides employment, specialized day programs, community, and recreational services and programs for adults with disabilities is building a new facility next to NECC’s Haverhill campus. Under its Project Search Program, eight of its clients are participating in unpaid internships at NECC. Three are working on the Lawrence campus and five on the Haverhill campus.

Enrollment Update

President Glenn addressed the fact that NECC’s enrollment is down by nearly seven percent. A stronger economy, declining birthrate and curriculum changes to the ESL program were all contributing factors. He also noted that enrollment is still higher than it was before the recession which drove enrollments to the peak.

He said NECC is being cautious about revenues and expenditures while being wise about recruitment efforts.

New Core Requirements

Associate Dean: Academic and Institutional Effectiveness Ellen Wentland addressed a large college news item – the launching of new core academic skills requirements for all NEW students to Northern Essex. Moving forward students who have never been enrolled at NECC and are enrolled in an associate degree program will now have to complete one intensive course in each of NECC’s six core academic skills to complete graduation requirements. The Core academic skills are written communication, public presentation, global awareness, information literacy, quantitative reasoning, and science and technology.

There are currently 346 sections of core academic skill offered at NECC with more coming this spring. These skills, she says, will help students be successful whether transferring to a four-year school or heading into a career.

New Employees

President Lane Glenn welcomed a large number of new faculty and staff to Northern Essex. They include Lauren Scott, staff assistant in academic and institutional effectiveness and Aaron Moreno, assistant professor of developmental writing in academic preparation. Administration and Finance welcomed Timothy Godzik, store keeper, Richard Haskell, director of fiscal services, Maureen McGonagle, events coordinator, and Richard Sommers, facilities manager/project administration. Academic counselors Adam Cutler and Courtney Newman joined admissions and recruitment. Karina Munoz is the new entry operator in financial aid. Dr. Sarah Courchesne is assistant professor of natural sciences and Maureen Lundergan is the new administrative assistant in foundational studies, liberal arts, and sciences. The health professions welcomed Susan Fichera, assistant professor of practical nursing, Sandra Guy, associate professor of health information technology, Daniel Kane, chair of emergency medical services, and Jaime McLennan, instructor in the associate degree nursing option. Librarians Jenny Fielding and Susan Leonardi joined library services. Sharon Cuddy McManus if the new staff assistant in professional development. Analcis Minaya is the new entry operator at the welcome express center. Jody Carson, is now a full-time faculty member of the early childhood education program in the technology, arts, and professional studies department.

Keven Moloney is NECC’s new AmeriCorps VISTA. In this role he will serve as liaison to the Northern Essex-Lawrence High School/health and human services freshman seminar project. He will assess areas of need in which the college and LHS can collaborate.

Two Merrimack Fellows are now working at NECC as part of their program. David Godin is working to expand the internship program and career preparation offerings. Train Wu has extensive experience as a leader and collaborator for social justice.