Board of Trustees: November Update
Lawrence, MA (November 1, 2023) – The Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees gathered on the Lawrence Campus for its November meeting. Members of the board and those in the audience learned about an exciting project that emerged from a faculty’s sabbatical leave, received an update on MassReconnect at NECC, and celebrated the successes of NECC athletic teams.
English professor Patricia Portanova used her recent sabbatical leave to “research new information and algorithmic literacy pedagogy and develop teaching modules for composition courses.” In other words, Portanova looked at the ways students were gathering information and sources and devised a pathway to increase information literacy.
“When I was a student, we would research by going into the bowels of the library. Those expectations don’t make sense in the 21st century,” remarked Portanova on how the internet and even social media have changed how students gather source material.
Portanova’s teaching module includes a media bias chart and sections on understanding how search results can be skewed using sites like Google. Students are also asked to write a reflective essay on how they will be more critical consumers of information they see online.
“Information literacy isn’t something we just do in the classroom; it’s part of being an informed citizen of the United States.”
Information Literacy is a learning outcome for all English 102 courses. Portanova’s module is available for all faculty to use.
Employee Demographics Report
President Lane Glenn and Executive Director of Employee Engagement and Chief People Officer Patty Gauron continue to look at employee demographics to ensure faculty, staff, and leadership are reflective of the students NECC serves. They noted that the most recent data shows that 22% of employees are Hispanic, up considerably in just a few years. They also remarked that they strive to hire people who are familiar with the communities surrounding NECC. “Two-thirds of our students come from Lawrence, Haverhill, and Methuen. It’s important that we have people who live in or have businesses in the community we serve,” said Glenn.
President Glenn updated the board on MassReconnect, the state’s new program to provide free community college to adults 25 and older who don’t already have a college degree. NECC has granted 200 MassReconnect awards, totaling about $400,000.
NECC Provost Paul Beaudin shared that hybrid and evening courses are most popular with MassReconnect students- so much so that NECC now offers 60 evening sections for the fall semester on the Lawrence Campus alone.
“We’re also working hard to remind our older students that we can work with them to get credit for prior learning and learned experiences,” said Beaudin.
Northern Essex is offering extended hours for student services on both campuses for those students taking evening classes.
If any members of the board were stifling a yawn or two during the meeting, it wasn’t for their lack of interest in the topics. President Glenn was among those who attended the first NJCAA Basketball game of the season- the NECC Knights tipped off their season promptly at 12:01 am with the school’s first-ever midnight madness game. The Knights showed they were ready to pick up where they left off of last year’s stellar season. They beat Bunker Hill Community College Bulldogs 95 to 55.
“It was a great spirit; we’re very proud of the Midnight Madness event.”
Glenn also shared that the Women’s Volleyball team is heading to the National NJCAA Tournament this week after capturing the Region 21 Championship for the first time since 2018. The Knights are undefeated, and four members were named to All-Region Teams. Vielka Sanchez was also selected as the Region 21 Player of the Year.
The Knights are seeded #14 in the National Tournament. They will take on the #3 seeded Century College (MN) Wood Ducks in the tournament’s opening match at 10:00 am ET at the Alliant Energy Powerhouse Area in Cedar Rapids, IA.