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Board of Trustee Update: September 2021

Submitted by on September 14, 2021 – 4:54 pm

Chrissy Grace Modeen, the new student-elected trustee, joined the board at the September meeting.

Introducing the New Student Trustee

At the start of the September 8 meeting of the NECC Board of Trustees, President Lane Glenn introduced newly-elected student trustee Christina (Chrissy) Grace Modeen of Haverhill. Congratulations were in order for the Human Service major who was married two weeks ago. Modeen has a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Sharing Good News

In her report to the board, Trustee Chair Jennifer Borislow focused on good news that happened while the board was on summer break.

She highlighted the Radiologic Technology Program’s 100% passing rate, the 130 faculty and staff who have completed mental health certification to better serve the mental health needs of students, and the trustees visit to the NECC Lupoli Family Institute of Culinary Arts. She also shared the many improvements that have been made to the Haverhill Campus, thanks to capital funding from the state, and the new SOAR (Seizing Opportunities to Aspire and Rise Program), which is based on our highly successful PACE Program (read more under Report of the Administration).

Nursing Reaccreditation During a Pandemic

When Dr. Kelly Fisher joined the college’s nursing faculty in January of 2020, she never imagined that by late August she would be promoted to assistant dean of nursing and health professions, with responsibility for leading the nursing program through its 8-year reaccreditation with the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), during a pandemic.

“Kelly put together a stellar 200-page self-study report in three months, a process that typically takes six months to a year,” Dr. Scott Lancaster, dean of health professions, told trustees as part of the Educational Report. “She was so new to the college and the job she did was mind-blowingly fantastic.”

After reviewing the self-study report and a four-day virtual site visit in February of 2021, the ACEN site visitors report and the evaluation panel have found that the Nursing Associate Degree and the Practical Nursing Certificate are in compliance with the Accreditation Six Standards and should both be reaccredited for 8 years.

The ACEN Board will vote on this recommendation in the fall.

Report of Board Committees

Equity Imperative

Marianne Paley Nadel, chair of the trustee’s Equity Imperative Committee, reported that the college is in the process of hiring a chief officer for the new Center for Equity and Social Justice, who will report to Dr. Noemi Custodia Lora, vice president of the Lawrence Campus and community relations.

The center will be focused on ending racial disparities in education and will become a one-stop hub for the college’s educational equity programs, community partnerships, and social justice initiatives.

A priority for the center will be addressing the tremendous need for ESL classes in the communities the college serves.

Custodia-Lora is also in the process of creating an advisory board for the center.

Report of the Administration

Update on the Return to Campus

While the pandemic dramatically reduced the number of students, faculty, and staff on campus, President Lane Glenn told trustees “We never left. Even during the pandemic, there have been people on both campuses continuously and there will be more of them starting next week (when fall classes begin).”

More than 25% of fall courses will be taught face-to-face in the classroom, according to Glenn, and masks will be required.

The community college system is working collectively on a vaccine mandate and Glenn anticipates that an announcement will be made in “the not too-distant future.”

Governor Baker recently instituted a vaccine mandated for all executive office employees, which does not include higher education.

“We have taken lots of precautions and we feel we are managing the risk responsibly,” said Glenn.

Budget Update

The FY22 budget is based on a 1% increase in FTE’s (full-time-equivalents) and while headcount is trending up by 1% for the fall, FTE’s are down 2%.

“We have more students taking fewer courses,” said Glenn.

While Northern Essex enrollments have been declining, the college has been doing better than most, with a 5% decrease last fall and a 7% decrease in the spring, as compared to 9.5% and 11.3% declines nationally.

Success Fund

Northern Essex received $1.2M this year from the state to help students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education to achieve their educational goals.

The funding was part of $17.5M that was given to the 15 community colleges in the state to create wrap-around supports and services to help the most vulnerable populations at community colleges.

The Success Fund is based on Northern Essex’s PACE Program, a federally funded program that serves 250 first generation and low income students each year with individualized support services that focus on academics, career, transfer, and accessing scholarships.

Northern Essex is using the funding to create the SOAR (Seizing Opportunities to Aspire and Rise) Program which will serve 600 students, with a focus on students who are Hispanic, first generation, low income, and adult learners.

Support will be provided by a staff of 25 including case managers, academic advisors and coaches, transfer advisors, and a mental health counselor.

The success of the program will be measured by carefully monitoring course success, GPA’s, persistence, retention, graduation, transfer, and student engagement.

The hope is that legislators will renew the funding based on its positive impact on vulnerable students.

Trustees Plan to Meet in Person in October

The October meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held in person for the first time since the pandemic struck in March of 2020. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 6 at 5 pm in the Hartleb Technology Center on the Haverhill Campus.