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Board of Trustees Update: February, 2021

Submitted by on March 1, 2021 – 6:07 pm

Jennifer Borislow, chair of the NECC Board of Trustees, welcomed Glennys Sanchez to her first board meeting. Sanchez, an ’05 business transfer grad, was appointed by Governor Charlie Baker to replace Mark Forman, a longtime member of the board, whose term recently expired.

Education Report: An Update on STEM at NECC

Carolyn Knoepfler, dean of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Programs, gave trustees “a taste of what it’s like to run an academic division in the midst of a pandemic.”

When she met with the board last February, she shared plans for new events, including a robotics competition. Then COVID hit.

“We try to be as creative as we can in STEM and our focus was now on providing our students with the same quality of academic experience that we were able to offer pre-pandemic,” she said.

Here’s what Knoepfler reported the STEM area has accomplished in the last year:

·         Boot camps to help prepare students to succeed in math, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and physics/engineering courses were transitioned to online delivery.

·         Sixteen new online courses were developed.

·         The college contracted with a company called Labster to transition science labs to online delivery during the fall and spring semesters.

·         COVID protocols were implemented for the many courses that still needed to meet face-to-face.

·         The college’s celebration of STEM Week in October went virtual.

The STEM area is supported by a $250,000 grant from the Department of Higher Education’s STEM Starter Academy. In addition to helping fund the initiatives highlighted above, this funding supported scholarships for STEM majors; tutoring for STEM courses; and, new this year, the hiring of three STEM advisors and a STEM liaison.

Knoepfler also shared a new pilot program that will help grow the already strong partnership between the engineering programs at Northern Essex and UMass Lowell. The program will include faculty exchanges, visits to UMass Lowell, and mentoring opportunities, and is designed to “ease the transfer the process”, according to Knoepfler. “If the pilot is successful, we will expand to other programs.”

UMass Lowell is the top transfer college for Northern Essex Engineering graduates.

Report of Administration

NECHE Accreditation

Northern Essex has been preparing for its 10-year reaccreditation by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

The college has completed its comprehensive self-study and a NECHE team will conduct a virtual visit April 11-14.

Co-chairs of the NECHE 2020 self-study are Kim Burns, dean of academic innovations and professional development; Scott Lancaster, interim dean, health professions, and Mike Hearn, director of libraries.

Haverhill Campus

For the past three years, Northern Essex has been leasing space at the Opportunity Works facility, located across the street from the Haverhill Campus on Kenoza Street.

That lease has officially ended. “It was a win-win,” said Lane Glenn, NECC president. “We no longer needed the space but they did.”

College offices that were located there, primarily Corporate & Community Education, will be relocated on the Haverhill Campus.

Also, the Haverhill Campus may become a vaccine site, once the supply is more plentiful, according to Glenn, who said Mike McCarthy, vice president of administration, is working with the city of Haverhill on this.

Lawrence Campus

Lawrence High School has received funding from the Smith Family Foundation to help create a fifth year of high school for students, who will graduate with an associate degree. Northern Essex is partnering with the high school on this initiative. The college already offers the Lawrence Promise Program for Early College students who want to continue at Northern Essex after high school and earn an associate degree. “There’s great demand,” said Glenn. “This new initiative will relieve pressure on the Promise Program.”