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Spring Semester Starts at NECC with Keynote Address from Jay Ash

Submitted by on January 30, 2023 – 8:39 pm

Haverhill, MA (January 17, 2023)– The 2023 spring semester is officially underway at Northern Essex Community College, following an interactive Spring Convocation on January 17. Special guests from the NECC Board of Trustees, the Massachusetts Association for Community Colleges, The Lawrence Partnership, and nearby community colleges joined NECC faculty and staff to explore the theme of Investing in Community Colleges as an Equitable Workforce Strategy.

Jay Ash stands at podium with NECC logo

Jay Ash, former Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and current President & CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership

Keynote Address Featuring Jay Ash
This spring convocation featured a keynote address from Jay Ash, former Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and current President & CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership.

In his introduction of Ash, Northern Essex President Lane Glenn noted that the number one reason students attend college is to get a good job. And while NECC effectively gets many students started in their chosen careers, studies show skepticism about the job readiness of community college graduates persists.

“Community colleges, like ours, are the most diverse segments of higher education,” said Glenn. “And when we help more of our first-generation, low-income students succeed by connecting them to their chosen vocation, we’re delivering what they most want and need from us even as we’re putting community colleges at the center of this equitable workforce strategy.”

The Massachusetts Competitive Partnership aims to bridge the gap between some of the Commonwealth’s largest businesses and recent community college graduates eager to start their careers. Ash works with CEOs to collaborate with public officials and business and civic leaders.

“Anytime I sit down with a business, I ask them what their number one issue is. And time and time again, businesses big and small, it’s talent,” said Ash. “Well, it’s no surprise then that if our number one issue is talent, the place we should want to be is a place that produces talent. And your number one product is talent.”

View the entire keynote address here.

Following his address Ash joined Northern Essex President Dr. Lane Glenn for a Q &A session, moderated by NECC Dean of Liberal Arts Amy Callahan.

NECC’s First Open Textbook

picture of the front of text book featuring children running and the title "The Whole Child: Development in the Early Years

NECC’s first open textbook, The Whole Child: Development in the Early Years

Early Childhood Education professors Doris Buckley and Deirdre Budzyna, along with Sue Tashjian, NECC’s coordinator of instructional technology, unveiled NECC’s first open textbook, The Whole Child: Development in the Early Years. Open textbooks are Open Educational Resources (OER). OER is free, openly licensed educational materials that faculty can adopt in lieu of commercially published textbooks. This book would usually cost students $174. “That means Northern Essex students will save $5,300 dollars this spring semester,” said Buckley.

Buckley and Budzyna developed their OER projects through the Remixing Open Textbooks through an Equity Lens (ROTEL) grant– a statewide project funded by the U.S. Department of Education. NECC was an early adopter of the use of OER. Tashjian is co-chair of the Massachusetts OER Advisory Council. She and Dean of Business and Professional Studies, Jody Carson, first introduced free OER to the college back in 2014 with a textbook task force. Since then, Tashjian estimates that using free and low-cost course materials have saved more than 19,000 students $2 million on textbooks.

Healthy Living Fair Returns
NECC Civic Engagement, Service-Learning, & Community Resources Coordinator Janel D’Agata-Lynch shared that the Healthy Living and Sustainability Fair is returning to the Lawrence Campus. The event is slated for April 24 from 10 am- 12 pm in the Dimitry Building and will be open to the public. D’Agata-Lynch encouraged faculty to integrate themes of healthy living and sustainability into their programs this spring. She also seeks classes and clubs whose members wish to participate in the fair with displays and demonstrations. Email for more information.

Welcomes and Farewells
NECC officially introduces new employees at each convocation and sends a fond farewell to recent retirees. View the complete list of Welcomes and Farewells here.