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Board of Trustees Update: June, 2020

Submitted by on June 9, 2020 – 1:48 pm
woman with long brown hair stands in backyard holding a plaque

Public Health Major Rosanna Lara

President Glenn opened the June 3 meeting of the board of trustees by presenting the “29 Shine Award” to Rosanna Lara of Lawrence, who is graduating with her associate degree in public health.

Each year one exceptional graduate from each of the Commonwealth’s 29 public colleges, universities, and community colleges is honored by the governor at a State House ceremony. This year’s ceremony was cancelled, due to the virus.

A wife and mother of three, Lara has been attending Northern Essex while working to support her family. With all of her responsibilities, she earned an almost perfect 3.98 GPA. In the fall, she will transfer to Regis to continue her students in public health. Regis offers bachelor’s degree completion programs on Northern Essex’s Lawrence Campus.

For the past couple of months, Lara has been volunteering, sometimes seven days a week, helping track and stop the spread of COVID-19, as a member of the contact and tracing team.

Glenn called Lara “One outstanding NECC student and one outstanding human being.” In accepting the award, Lara said, “NECC is the best choice I ever made. I felt like family and I had so much support. It provided me with my dream, my associate degree.”

Teaching Inside Prison:

Professor Schade’s Sabbatical Report

Inmates at the Essex House of Correction benefited from Professor Trish Schade’s Fall 2019 sabbatical, which she spent creating an English 101 curriculum designed to meet the needs of incarcerated individuals.

Professor Schade told trustees “I believe in the redemptive value of education”, citing stats that show 80 percent of incarcerated individuals end up back in jail within 10 years.

Her goal was to research best practices and create a course that maintained academic rigor while addressing issues related to prison education. For example, inmates don’t have access to computers or the Internet, and complete their work using just pencils and lined yellow paper.

Schade’s research culminated in the spring of 2020 when she taught English Composition I to 20 inmates at the Middleton House of Correction.

“My students were curious, challenging, and our discussions were insightful,” said Schade. Ten of them completed the semester with A’s and B’s and one transferred to her campus class when he finished his prison term mid-semester.

Schade shared one especially frustrating day when she was left waiting for her students, due to a lockdown. Six of her students entered the classroom singing “My Girl”. “In all my years of teaching, I’ve never been serenaded,” said Schade. “These students really will surprise you and they need us. They are doing great work.”

Since last year, Northern Essex has been partnering with the Essex County Sheriff’s Department to provide educational opportunities for inmates.

Experiencing the Dominican Culture:

Exchange Program for Faculty and Staff

Since 2016, Northern Essex has been offering faculty and staff the opportunity to participate in a five-day exchange with the Dominican Republic, designed to fully immerse them in the Dominican culture.

Forty-three percent of students at Northern Essex are Latino and the great majority have roots in the Dominican Republic.

Created in partnership with seven educational institutions in the Dominican Republic, including the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD), the public university system, the exchange helps faculty and staff to learn more about “where their students are coming from”, according to Dr. Noemi Custodia-Lora, vice president of the Lawrence Campus and community relations, who gave the presentation to trustees.

While in the Dominican Republic, participants have a packed schedule that includes visit to supermarkets, hospitals, prisons, charter schools, and talks to people on the street.

Since the program was started, there have been four Dominican trips and 22 faculty and staff members have participated.

The program is divided into three sections: pre-departure presentation; the travel experience; and post-travel implementation of a project that demonstrates cultural knowledge.

Those interested should contact Custodia-Lora for more information,

FY21 Budget Update

Trustee Marianne Paley Nadel, chair of the Finance Committee, reported that they are focusing on the FY21 budget, which begins July 1. They are looking at a 11 percent budget reduction which translates to approximately $4 million.

Reductions will be considered first in operations, but with 75 percent of the budget tied up in salaries, lay-offs will have to be considered. “It continues to be more and more challenging. We are trying to look at savings in a manner that’s consistent with the compassionate institution that we strive to be.”

Trustees will vote on the FY21 budget in July.

Report of Administration

Plan for Reopening in the Works

Mike McCarthy, vice president of administration, reported that the college is working on a plan for bringing student and faculty and staff back to campus.

Fall will be Primarily Online

Bill Heineman, vice president of academic and student affairs, shared that in the fall 80 percent of classes (400 courses) will be offered online and 20 percent (100 courses) will have a face-to-face component.

This summer will be spent converting face-to-face courses to online delivery. “We are focusing on quality online delivery,” said Heineman. “The fall will be a far higher quality than what we were able to do on the fly this spring.”

In addition to equipping faculty with the tools they need, the college will also be preparing students for online learning. A lap top requirement will take effect.

College Unveils “Bold” Marketing Campaign

Northern Essex has refocused its marketing campaign in response to the pandemic, according to Allison Dolan-Wilson, vice president of institutional advancement, now targeting recent high school graduates who are reconsidering plans for the fall, current college students who may be wary of returning to a residential campus, and unemployed workers.

The “Start at NECC” campaign includes print, digital, radio, social media, buses, and television.

“It’s about now; bold and focused on quality and accessibility,” said Dolan-Wilson.

Four New Appointments are Approved

Trustees voted unanimously to approve three new state appropriated positions: Kizzy Borbon, academic counselor; Maria Stark-Magana, director of recruitment/admissions; and Cesar Gonzalez-Tellez, integrated specialist/programmer, and one non-state-appropriated position, Bernadette Kennedy-Cox, learning specialist-computer, Center for Adult Education.

Good-bye to Student Trustee Courtney Morin

Student trustee Courtney Morin of Lawrence, a biology and liberal arts major, will be leaving the board after serving two terms.

Calling Morin an “awesome student trustee”, Glenn said “we’re so happy you served the students in the way you did.”

Morin will be replaced by Nursing Major Samantha McLaughlin from Amesbury.