Spring Convocation Launches Semester
Suddenly, it seems, community colleges are grabbing headlines. With that in mind, Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn welcomed dozens of faculty, staff, and administrators to the spring 2015 convocation on Tuesday, January 20, noting that it’s an exciting time to be working at a community college.
He referenced the recent New York Times op-ed column written by actor and director Tom Hanks, who credited Chabot Community College for making him who he is today. He asked NECC employees to think of their own experiences and a place that helped make them who they are today and share it with someone at their table.
NECC’s Respiratory Care Coordinator Jennifer Jackson-Stevens gave a shout out to Massasoit Community College where she enrolled after losing her way at UMass Amherst. Honors Program Coordinator Ginger Hurajt says her experiences at Youngstown State University gave her a strong foundation.
Bidding Colleagues Farewell
President Glenn went on to acknowledge 16 new staff and faculty and wished retirees Donna Bouchard and Linda Desjardins well. New faculty and staff include Kim Burns, dean of academic innovations and alternative studies; Jeffrey Flaherty, academic advisor; Solanyi Munoz, clerk III; Linda Buckley, staff assistant; Clayton Ross, engineer/project manager; Rosalba Conde, financial aid counselor; Ireni Rose, staff assistant; Richard Bernhardt, program director paramedic program; Laurie Hillson, director of nursing education; Scott Lancaster, clinical coordinator paramedic technology program; Dalisa Diaz, staff associate; Robert Erskine, system analyst; Shawn Huff, systems analyst; Laura Mondt, reference and instruction librarian; Stephen Cate, associate registrar; Ariel Chicklis, assistant coordinator student engagement & activities; and Karen MacDonald Fehr, mental health counselor.
NISOD Nominees Named
Vice President of Academic Affairs Bill Heineman noted that faculty regularly influence their students, but often don’t know they had that influence. “NISOD is validation for the work they do,” he said. This year’s NISOD nominees are Abby Thomas, ESL; Amy Callahan, Communication/ Journalism; Deirdre Budzyna, Early Childhood Education; Kristen Quinn, Accounting; Linda Giampa, academic coordinator, Tutoring Center, and Bob West, lab tech/safety officer. Created in 1978, the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) is a membership organization committed to promoting and celebrating excellence in teaching, learning, and leadership at community and technical colleges.
Campus Changes are Coming
President Glenn outlined some physical changes planned for the Haverhill campus. A total of $15 million has been appropriated to make updates to the Spurk Building including safety, accessibility, entrances, bathrooms, air conditioning, windows, boiler, insulation, and improvements to Lecture Hall A. In anticipation of closing half the building in Spring 2016, NECC is identifying “swing space” to house displaced offices and classrooms. Some space under consideration is at Opportunity Works, a workshop for disabled adults that built a new facility next door to NECC and the Riverwalk in Lawrence.
Other changes are coming, said Heineman, who said “change is constant and more rapid every year”. NECC is reviewing its recent winter intercession class offerings; developing accelerated flexible online classes for adults, and exploring competency-based education, which allow institutions to get student-aid funding by creating programs that directly measure learning, not time. Students can move at their own pace. The school certifies — measures — what they know and are able to do. NECC was named an “experimental site” by the Department of Education. This allows Northern Essex to try out such programs without losing financial-aid eligibility.
Heineman also announced that Bonnie Williamson will assume the role of interim dean of student life until the end of June, 2015.
Marcy Yeager, coordinator of NECC’s global studies program, reported on the Cultural Equity Committee’s mission to revamp the college’s diversity statement into a culture of inclusion statement. With that in mind, she hopes to continue to increase the study abroad options; create a “These are the People in Our Neighborhood” forum; connect NECC to the Fulbright Scholar Program; and open the travel abroad short courses to faculty and staff.
The morning closed with a panel comprised of Representative Linda Dean Campbell, State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, and former NECC Trustee and current Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera who discussed the state of higher education in Massachusetts.
Representative Dean Campbell said that Massachusetts will rely on community colleges to help educate the workforce. Senator O’Connor Ives said she believes community colleges will be tasked with helping Massachusetts maintain its talent in the state by advancing STEM programs. In addition, she says community colleges will continue to connect with downtowns. Mayor Rivera says Lawrence is a perfect example of what a college can do for a downtown.
Rivera says parents should be reminded that they needn’t send their children out of state for quality and affordable education.
Dean Campbell encouraged staff, faculty, and administration to get involved in the state’s budget process. Professor of History and Government Steve Russell asked how staff, faculty, and administration’s voices could be heard. She said that “numbers matter”. She said legislators take note of letters and notes sent to them by their constituents.