February Trustees Report
Dr. Carlos Santiago, the Massachusetts commissioner of higher education, was the special guest at the February 3 meeting of the Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees.
After spending a day at Northern Essex, meeting with students, faculty, staff, community partners, and business leaders on both the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses, the newly appointed commissioner reported that he was pleased with what he saw. “Your students are thankful and appreciative of the education they get here. And the links between the college and the community are strong.”
Dr. Santiago is visiting all campuses within the public higher education system to share his vision for public higher education in the state and learn more about each campus.
As commissioner, Dr. Santiago reported that he will be focusing on the three priorities outlined in the Vision Project: boosting college completion; closing achievement gaps; and attracting more students from underserved populations.
With each group that he met with, including the trustees, the commissioner shared statistics illustrating why educating more Massachusetts residents is critically important.
According to the commissioner, 50 percent of residents currently have a bachelor’s degree in a state where 80 percent of jobs require a bachelor’s degree.
“Employers tell us if we don’t find the talent, they will go elsewhere. We need to be sure that Massachusetts remains on top.”
In order to achieve these goals, he said the DHE will focus on creating additional pipelines for transfer from community colleges to four-year colleges. “This is part of getting students through more quickly,” he said. Affordability will also be a major focus, and the commissioner hinted that a new initiative to make a public bachelor degree even more affordable than it currently is may be announced soon.
The first Latino Commissioner of Higher Ed in Massachusetts, Dr. Santiago is an economist who is a former CEO of the Hispanic College Fund and the former chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Here’s a link to his bio. He was appointed as commissioner by Governor Baker in July of 2015.
Academic Support Services
Is Focus of Educational Report
Donna Bertolino, assistant dean of academic support services, reported that the college’s PACE (Pathways to Academic and Career Excellence) program, which has been on campus for 35 years, providing support services for 250 low income, first generation students each year, has been refunded for five years.
The $2,195,760 million grant will fund four staff people.
Bertolino also shared that the college’s tutoring center, which was restructured last year to provide integrated tutoring services for students in developmental and college level courses, is helping an increasing number of students. There has been a 28 percent increase in the number of students who are in college level courses visiting the center; a 68 percent increase in students using online tutoring; and a 7 percent increase in attendance at supplemental instruction review sessions, which are available weekly in selected courses.
According to Bertolino, the Testing Center in Lawrence has seen tremendous growth and is now offering walk-in testing four days and evenings per week. The Haverhill Campus Testing Center was recently certified nationally as a Pearson VUE Test Center, offering 1000 certification exams. The Testing Center was also recertified nationally and locally as a certified center for CLEP, HiSet, the College Board, and ATI testing.
Updates to Campus Smoking Policy
When the college’s current smoking policy—which allows smoking on campus in private vehicles only— was approved in 2008, devices like electronic cigarettes and vapors weren’t an issue.
Those devices have now become popular and, as a result, the college requested an addition to the current policy which would clarify that these kind of devices are not allowed on campus.
Trustees unanimously approved the new wording:
“The policy establishes the college as a smoke free environment at Northern Essex Community College and for the purpose of this policy smoking includes the burning of tobacco or any other material in any type of smoking equipment, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or other devices such as e-cigarettes, or vaporizers.”
NEASC Gives NECC the Go-Ahead
President Lane Glenn reported that the college received good news from NEASC (the New England Association of Schools and Colleges), the college’s regional accrediting association.
The college fifth-year interim report was approved, meaning no additional reporting is required until the 2020 full ten-year report.
NEASC also approved two “substantive changes” for the college: an off-campus instructional location at Greater Lawrence Technical School (GLTS) and implementation of competency-based education.
The college has plans to launch an Advanced Manufacturing degree and selected courses will be taught at GLTS. GLTS received $1.2 million in state funding two years ago to equip an advanced manufacturing lab that would be used by GLTS and NECC students.
The college also received permission to offer competency based education (CBE) programs, specifically in computer applications and art. Competency based education is a new model of teaching and learning, which allows students to proceed at their own pace, receiving credit when they have mastered the material.
Trustees unanimously approved what President Lane Glenn called “a significant new position” at the college.
Effective in April, Kelly Saretsky will be the college’s dean of planning, institutional research & effectiveness.
“We’ve combined three areas of the college into one,” said Glenn.
Saretsky has been most recently the director of institutional research and planning at the College of North Atlantic in Qatar. She has a PhD in higher education leadership from the University of Calgary.
The board also affirmed the appointment of eight employees who were hired during the winter intersession, including Daniel Richer, director of admissions & recruitment; Daniel Malave, director of student conduct, Jason Termini, instructor, Computer Information Sciences; Frederico Curty, staff assistant, Academic Technology, Library; Vengerflutta Smith, enrollment/academic counselor; Susan Leonardi, assistant librarian; Katelynn Donnelly, staff assistant, Public Safety and Transportation; and Revathi O’Neal, technical support analyst, Enrollment Services.