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February 2023 Board of Trustees Meeting Includes Approval of Four New Programs

Submitted by on February 3, 2023 – 5:09 pm

Haverhill, MA (February 1, 2023) – Following a busy January amid the new legislative session, the Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees convened for their first meeting of 2023 on Wednesday evening. The agenda included presentations on efforts to bridge the equity gap in online learning and to ensure college programs align with job market needs. The Board also approved two new degree programs and two certificate programs. library on the havehill campus with full, green trees and freshly cut lawn

Support for Online Students/Data Modalities
Since the pandemic’s start, NECC has dramatically increased the number of online classes. And while online classes can offer many benefits to students, the classes also require different preparation and support services to help students succeed compared to in-person classes.

The NECC Success Online task force was formed in July 2022. Led by Dean of Business and Professional Studies Jody Carson and comprised of staff from across the college, the team worked to coordinate existing resources and launch new services designed to help students succeed in online courses. “We wanted them to know the expectations, what they might see, and whom to contact when they ran into trouble,” said Carson.

The team ensured that every student orientation had a technology component. They also coordinated drop-in help sessions with student ambassadors, Frequently Asked Questions sessions focused on academic technology, and an elective Prep for Success in Online Courses class. Carson shared that data shows an increase in student success across all modalities (online, hybrid, and in-person) from fall 2021 to fall 2022. However, online classes saw the largest increase, with 4.1% more students passing their courses.

Program Demand Gap Analysis Report
Northern Essex is dedicated to ensuring that credit and flex-credit courses and programs align with the Merrimack Valley’s workforce demands. As such, Associate Dean of Curriculum, Assessment, and Academic Policy Kirsten Kortz, and Center for Corporate and Community Education Director Linda Schildkraut presented The Program Demand Gap Analysis (PDGA) Executive Summary. The report analyzed 75 programs.

“We looked at the programs we have and how to make strategic decisions to grow those programs or to make decisions when presented with proposals for new programs,” said Kortz. “We also looked at students’ skills and knowledge once they completed the programs and compared those to keywords in job descriptions.”

The results of the study are already being put into practice. Schildkraut shared that the Supervisory Skills flex-credit course that had previously been offered through employers will now be available for open enrollment. They are also adding contextualized English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) components to the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) certificate programs. The first session of the EMT course with the ESOL component will start in March; The CNA session will be offered starting in April.

New Programs
The Trustees voted unanimously to approve four new programs: Lab Technician Certificate, Medical Billing and Coding Certificate, Entrepreneurial Business Associate in Science, and Marketing Associate in Science Program. While three of the programs require further approval from the Department of Higher Education, which can take up to a year, the Medical Billing and Coding Certification is ready to begin this fall.

“Medical billers and coders are a vital part of our healthcare system and are in high demand. This program will allow graduates to gain the entry-level skills and knowledge needed to meet that demand and begin a very rewarding career,” said Medical Billing and Medical Coding Program Coordinator Dawn Wheaton, CPC.

The Board of Trustees typically meets on the first Wednesday of each month. The full schedule, agendas, and minutes from past meetings can be found on the webpage.