Board of Trustees Update: December, 2020
Attracting a Diverse Faculty and Staff is an NECC Priority
Northern Essex has a student population that is 43% Hispanic, but only 13.7% of faculty and staff are Hispanic, according to a report presented to trustees by Kelly Saretsky, dean of institutional research, planning, and effectiveness, at the Dec. 2 meeting.
President Lane Glenn and his leadership team would like to address this, by recruiting and hiring more Hispanic employees.
While the college is trending in the right direction—there’s been a close to 3% increase in the percentage of Hispanic employees over the past three years—it needs to happen more quickly, according to Glenn. “Our employee population doesn’t even approximate the communities we serve,” he said.
Citing stats from the Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF), Glenn reported that, as a community, Lawrence is 80% Hispanic; Methuen, 29%; and Haverhill 20%.
This isn’t a new priority for the college, but, with the focus on equity, it has become more important than ever. In Essex County, there’s a 30% gap between Whites and Hispanics in educational attainment, according to the ECCF.
“This is our focus,” said Glenn. We want to help more local people access a college education and the economic benefits it offers. To do that, It’s important that our employees reflect the community and the broader populations we serve.”
The college will be reporting to trustees regularly on strategies and progress related to this goal.
Sabbatical Report from Professor Elle Yarborough
Elle Yarborough, who has been teaching English at Northern Essex for 10 years and is currently the department chair, estimates that it takes about 20 minutes to read and provide feedback on each student essay assignment, which is 8 hours in total for a class of 24 students.
During her spring 2020 sabbatical, she focused on how that time can be used most meaningfully.
“What we know about grading and feedback is that it needs to be given regularly and that it needs to be timely,” she told trustees. “I wanted to look at how we can affectively give feedback to students and build community in the classroom.”
Her research on the topic included a literature review, interviews and observations of six faculty from four institutions, and hands-on research in classes at Northern Essex.
The end result is a collection of “small but mighty suggestions” that she’s shared with her Northern Essex colleagues. She is also scheduled to present on this topic at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Conference.
“If I can save 1,000 minutes per semester on grading, I will have more time to create better assignments,” she said. “I think what I’ve found has been useful to my colleagues.”
Audit Report is “Best You Can Have”
Representatives from O’Connor and Drew P.C. shared the college’s financial statements and management’s discussion and analyst for FY20, which ended June 30, 2020, with trustees, calling the report “the best you can have.”
“We are in sound financial position,” said President Lane Glenn. “Better than we expected.”
President Glenn credited one-time savings, careful enrollment planning, and reduced expenses as a result of being remote with contributing to the positive results. The college also received $3.2M in CARES Act funding, half of which went directly to students and the other half to the college to cover costs associated with the change in operations due to COVID 19, such as transitioning courses to online delivery and installing air filtration systems on campus.
Report of Administration
Strategic Plan: Integrated Student Experience
The Integrated Student Experience is a new approach to providing student services that emphasizes belonging, structure, and integration.
As part of ISE, each student has a very clear pathway that leads to graduation, transfer, and career.
Northern Essex students have been hard hit by the pandemic, facing job losses, increased family responsibilities, and the stress of transitioning to online learning. The ISE is helping them to stay on track, despite those challenges.
Communication with students has been ramped up, primarily using EAB Navigate, an app available to all students, and regular student surveys to determine where our students are struggling and how we can help them.
On Nov. 5, Governor Charlie Baker was in Haverhill to visit The Heights, which is home to the NECC Lupoli Family Culinary Arts Center.
Denis Boucher, program manager of culinary and hospitality, gave the governor a tour of the facility, which will be home to credit programs, including our certificate in culinary arts and our associate degree in hospitality management, and noncredit culinary courses offered through Corporate & Community Education.