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Board of Trustees April 2024 Update

Submitted by on April 17, 2024 – 2:06 pm

Lawrence, MA (April 3, 2024) – An action-packed meeting of the Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees in April included the approval of three new programs, news of the exploration of an enhanced partnership with Whittier Tech, and an important update on the college’s innovative work in the early childhood education field.

Pathways in Early Childhood Education
NECC Dean of Business and Professional Studies Jody Carson shared that since the pandemic, the field of early childhood education (ECE) has received much-needed attention and funding at the federal and state levels. Governor Healey’s proposed FY25 budget includes $1.6 billion in funding for ECE. Carson said NECC is well prepared to serve students in or entering the ECE field through degree and certificate programs and multiple pathways offered through the Career Pathways in ECE grant. Each of these innovative pathways meets students where they are, helps to identify individual education and career goals and provides funding for ECE opportunities at NECC.

“After many years of not having enough funding, this is a historic investment in ECE. And we’re ready to respond to the needs of our communities,” said Carson.

She is currently working with 13 of the other community colleges in the commonwealth to develop a certification that is the same across all institutions. This will streamline the process for students and ensure uniformity in the program.

“Her leadership at the state level has been vital,” NECC President Lane Glenn said of Carson’s work.

New Programs
The Trustees voted unanimously to approve three new programs for the fall of 2024, all of which were developed in response to the needs of local employers and communities:
The Senior Care Specialist Certificate will prepare students to provide person-centered care and support that addresses the specific age-related needs of adults over 65.
The Certificate in Behavioral Health and Trauma in Early Childhood is designed for students to complete it in addition to their associate degree in Early Childhood Education. It will give students a broad knowledge of the impact trauma has on children and specific strategies to meet their needs and be more successful in the field.
The Certificate in Intelligence Studies was developed as part of a partnership with the Homeland Security program at the University of New Hampshire under a ten-year, $300,000 federal grant. The intent of the grant is to recruit and develop interest in students to work in the federal intelligence community field as analysts, particularly students in colleges and universities enrolled in minority-serving institutions.

Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School Project Exploration
President Glenn shared the preliminary details of a plan that could result in a shared campus model for Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and NECC on NECC’s Haverhill campus. The Healey-Driscoll administration is exploring how a collaborative effort with state and local partners could meet the evolving educational needs of the region’s students and communities efficiently and affordably.

This partnership with NECC and Whittier Tech will explore ways to create a new, modern facility for Whittier Tech, allow for expanded access to postsecondary education across northeastern Massachusetts, and increase enrollment capacity at both institutions. It will also open up new avenues for potential additional funding sources beyond cities and towns in the Merrimack Valley.

“In most of the rest of the country, this already happens,” said Glenn. “Community colleges are all in the vocational business.”

Glenn emphasized that it is still very early in the process. An exploratory committee will be formed, and the next steps will be mapped out.