March Trustee Notes
Retention Scholarship Bridges the Gap for Students in Need
In the fall of 2011, the NECC Board of Trustees voted to create a Retention Scholarship to bridge the gap between the free financial aid a student receives and the full cost of their education including tuition and fees, health insurances, books, and supplies.
At that time, trustees decided to set aside $200,000 each year for these need-based scholarships recognizing students who have demonstrated academic progress and have completed 12 credits (certificate programs) or 24 credits (associate degree programs).
“We want to invest in the potential of needy students,” said Tina Favara, interim dean of enrollment services, who gave the presentation along with Alexis Fishbone, director of financial aid.
In 2013/14, 187 scholarships, averaging $796.09, were awarded.
In addition to the financial benefits of the scholarship, students are required to complete and follow an academic plan and they also receive one-on-one support. As a result, participants in the program are achieving impressive retention and graduation rates. The 2011/12 group, for example, had retention rates for 2 to 3 semesters of 79% and graduation rates of 59%. The 2012/13 group had even better performance with retention rates of 83% and graduation rates of 61%.
“This scholarship was created to address declining state support for higher ed,” said President Lane Glenn. “We want to be sure we’re not excluding anyone because of an inability to pay.”
Other community colleges are interested in setting up similar scholarship programs, and Favara and Fishbone recently presented at the February 2015 Achieving the Dream Conference.
President Receives Favorable Evaluation
Trustees reviewed a letter from DHE Commissioner Richard Freeland in which he enthusiastically endorsed the board’s positive evaluation of President Lane Glenn for the 2013/14 academic year.
The evaluation focused on five of President Glenn’s priorities including development of the Lawrence site; improvement of student learning; improved support services; career preparation; and promoting a culture of learning.
Some of the highlights included:
• NECC outpaced Achieving the Dream institutional averages on all 10 categories reviewed in the benchmarking study
• New programs linked to regional employment needs were created, most notably in health care and manufacturing
• NECC’s 62% retention rate for first-time students is the highest of all 15 community colleges
• NECC is the only Massachusetts public campus qualified as a Hispanic Serving Institution and the percentage of students receiving Pell grants is, at 65%, tied with Roxbury Community for the highest percentage among the 15 community colleges.
• The percentage of students who pass a college-level math course within two years of enrolling in developmental math course at NECC is growing, and averaged 24% over the most recent three years, which is in the top third of community colleges
• President Glenn has been a leader in the statewide effort to promote learning outcomes assessment and was recently named chair of the Statewide Task Force on Assessment
• The college is achieving cost savings by participating in the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM)’s Accelerated Energy Program and statewide initiatives to bring down IT costs
President Glenn reported that the college’s budget for FY15 had to take a mid-year hit of $278,000, due to Governor Baker’s 9C cuts, which were necessitated by budget shortfalls.
The college has addressed these cuts by deciding not to fill open positions, he said.
“Because we’ve been managing finances well, we have been able to weather the cut this way.”
The governor’s proposed budget for FY16 includes a $9 million increase for community colleges. “It’s a little less than last year and less than half of what we received the year before but the good news is that it’s not a cut.”
Student Trustee Shares Food Concerns
Student-elected trustee Kelsey Terry shared concerns about the quality and price of food offered on the college’s Haverhill and Lawrence Campuses.
She said she’s been receiving complaints from students, who are not happy about the choices and miss the cafeteria that was previously located on campus but is now the location of the Haverhill Campus bookstore.
David Gingerella, vice president of administration, explained that it can be difficult for a food vendor to turn a profit at a community college since there’s no base of residential students, which is why costs are higher.
President Glenn asked Trustee Terry to meet with Gingerella and discuss options.