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Dear NECC Students, Faculty, and Staff—

One short month ago, we were still holding classes and meetings on campus, eating in restaurants, and gathering together in parks and shopping malls. Today, after an extended spring break for “Remote Teaching and Learning Week” and a national state of emergency declaration, the world we share is a very different one—for a while.

Those of you who have read my “weeklies” or followed my “Running the Campus” blog over the years may remember that I enjoy Dr. Who, Harry Potter, and other tales-of-adventure-with-heart stories.

I happened to catch one of the most memorable scenes in all of them last night while channel surfing and trying to avoid the news for just a little while.

In J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Fellowship of the Ring, the heroic hobbit Frodo and his brave band of elves, dwarves, and humans end up lost somewhere in the mines of Moria, on their quest to destroy the evil One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Somewhere high above them, storm clouds are building, and great armies are massing for war.

Frodo slumps on a rock, exhausted and feeling defeated, and tells their guide and protector, the great wizard, Gandalf, “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish it need not have happened in my time.”

To which the wise Gandalf replies, “So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Great literature is great literature, no matter the genre; and the best of it reveals deep, common human experiences—compassionately.

Chances are good that we’re all feeling more than a bit like Frodo right now, wishing that this need not have happened in our time.

Beyond the inconveniences of social distancing, feeling like prisoners in our own homes, long lines at the grocery store, and a bizarre shortage of toilet paper, there is real pain: jobs lost, friends and family members ailing, and clouds of uncertainty hanging on the horizon.

But, like Frodo’s fellowship, we’ll shoulder our packs and press on. This is the time we are in, and we decide how to face it.

Here at NECC, I want you to know that we’re all in this together—a fellowship, if you will. A campus community.

By now, I hope you have experienced this in your interactions with your professors and with campus colleagues. Yes, there is worry and unease, but more than that, there is care, concern, and eagerness to do whatever is needed to help each other through.

As we complete our first full week of remote teaching and learning, I hope you find these updates helpful:

We’re All in This Together

Welcome back to classes, Northern Essex Community College students! Dozens of NECC faculty and staff came together to share some helpful tips for “remote learning.” We care about you and your success, and we’re all in this together.

Click the image below to hear more:

View video on the NECC YouTube Channel.

Remote Teaching and Learning for the Rest of Spring Semester

With the Massachusetts State of Emergency declaration and physical distancing requirements extended through at least May 4, NECC will not be resuming any in-person classes for the remainder of the spring semester. All classes will continue to be taught remotely until the end of the spring semester on May 11.

If you have questions about classes or services, please check the college’s Coronavirus Information web page and Frequently Asked Questions; or you can call (978) 556-3700 or email

Commencement will be Celebrated in August…Virtually!

Our commencement ceremony attracts 3,000 people each year, including our graduates and their family and friends, and our faculty and staff.

It’s no surprise that won’t be possible this May, and we are not yet sure when it will be safe to host a celebration of this size.

We’ve been working hard to determine the best way to celebrate our amazing 2020 graduates, who have worked so hard in the midst of unprecedented challenges to make it to the finish line. The good news is that we have a plan, thanks to the quick work of our Commencement Committee, the NECC Student Government Association, and the All-College Assembly Executive Committee.

Our May 16 ceremony has been postponed, but we will have a virtual celebration in August. We will share remarks from our featured speaker and our student speaker, celebrate our award recipients and, most importantly, recognize our graduates.

Each grad will receive a surprise package in the mail during the month and be invited to host their own celebration, one they can share with the community through videos or photos.

After we have received graduate videos and photos, we will create a Commencement 2020 video that we will share widely.

Because we know that actually walking across that commencement stage is also important to many of our graduates, every member of the Class of 2020 will also be invited to participate in the 2021 commencement ceremony, which will be a joint graduation for both classes.

We are working on the details for all of this now, and we’ll share them as they are ready. Please visit the commencement website for updates.

NECC Town Hall Meeting: Thursday, April 9

Last Friday afternoon, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Bill Heineman and I participated in a virtual “Town Hall” meeting for students, moderated by Assistant Director of Student Success Management Systems Audrey Ellis, with tremendous help from dozens of staff and faculty who joined the call. Together, we fielded questions about classes, commencement, summer and fall registration, financial aid, and a whole lot more.

In case you weren’t able to join us, the entire meeting is available, along with a transcript of questions and responses, on the college’s Coronavirus Information web page, or just click here.

I hope you will join me and members of the college’s Leadership Cabinet next week, Thursday, April 9 at 12:00, for a Northern Essex Community College faculty and staff Town Hall meeting.

In addition to looking at “Where We’ve Been,” and providing updates on remote teaching and working; we will also look ahead to “Where We’re (Possibly) Going” in summer, fall, and beyond.

Just as importantly, we’ll share some “Forward Thinking” about strategies for how NECC can emerge better, stronger, and even more effective from this crisis, and we will answer questions you may have.

Please watch your email for more details about Thursday’s NECC Town Hall meeting early next week.

In the meantime, if you have questions you would like answered during the Town Hall, please email them to Ernie Greenslade at

Thanks, everyone, for all you are doing to support each other. May you have a restful, healthy weekend.


Lane A. Glenn


Northern Essex Community College



Check out “Running the Campus,” my blog featuring stories and perspectives on leadership, higher education,

and going the extra mile: or connect with me on social media on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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