Notes on Our December 7, 2016 Meeting

On December 7, 2016, members of the New England College Council met on the 32nd floor (UMass Club) of One Beacon Street, Boston for their annual dinner and meeting.

necc-tableI. Welcome

Ellen Kennedy called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. and thanked everyone for coming. She thanked Bill Hart, executive officer of the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office, for arranging the space and thanked Pam Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill Community College, for providing the shuttle service from the Copley Marriott to the UMass Club.

II. Introductions

As several new presidents were present, everyone went around the table and introduced themselves.

III. Musings on NECC over the Years

Dan Asquino, who will be retiring next month, couldn’t attend this evening because he was part of the process of interviewing new presidents for his position at Mount Wachusett Community College, so Ellen asked Cathryn Addy, president of Tunxis Community College, and Bob Ross, former executive director of the New England College Council, to provide some history on the NECC.

Cathryn Addy spoke of how New England is unique; everyone is practically related. But there is a national system in place where community colleges are considered “red-headed stepchildren” compared to other higher education institutions. They all have a place and a mission, but they don’t have enough support.

Cathryn praised the NECC for providing a place and way to communicate and share ideas and good news among the community colleges in the region. The NECC has provided scholarships and leadership succession. Roberta Cantor had been the executive director for many years, Cathryn said, and then Bob had taken on that role for 6-7 years. It’s good for a group like this to be able to talk to each other. We have similar issues and similar challenges. What we each contribute for students and on a daily basis is important.


Bob Ross said he attended his first NECC meeting in 1990, when the colleges were first facing the Americans with Disabilities Act. He said the council at that time had as many four-year institutions as two-year institutions as members; they wanted an alternate route of entry to higher education and sat together, discussing transition pathways.

Bob’s advice on professional development is “don’t dabble; do.” He would like to see the NECC provide a high-quality experience to current and emerging leaders. NECC members who share successes and accomplishments should be recognized by other agencies.

In response to Ellen Kennedy’s question about the structure, Bob said the NECC would have a long annual meeting in June that was a three-day conference, organized by an institutional campus planning committee.

Bob added that we all live near each other, but we often only get a chance to talk to each other through NECC meetings. It’s an important vehicle for communicating and sharing ideas.

Mike Rooke, president of Northwestern Connecticut Community College, added that meeting other presidents through NECC meetings and last fall’s conference has been highly valuable.

Susan Huard, president of Manchester Community College in New Hampshire, added that as a third-year president, she too has discovered valuable opportunities for conversing and connecting with colleagues through the NECC.

IV. Financial Statement

Ellen Kennedy distributed copies of the 7/1/15-6/30/16 New England College Council financial statement that had been prepared by President Asquino and his team at Mount Wachusett Community College who have continued to handle the NECC’s treasury. We are in good shape, Ellen reported, as we didn’t expend funds this year, so our total equity is $64,550.38. We won’t charge 2017 dues to those who paid 2016 dues, as we were inactive this year, but we will be collecting dues for those who haven’t paid last year’s dues.

V. Professional Opportunities

Meghan Hughes, president of the Community College of Rhode Island, spoke on the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence. The intended audience of this fellowship, Meghan reported, is aspiring or brand-new presidents, and she applied as soon as she was appointed at CCRI. Three Aspen folks who started as VPs are now presidents. Aspen focuses on completion, transfer, quality, and equity, encouraging fellows to really explore what it means to do the work as presidents. The 39-member group is deliberately diverse, and the fellowship supports development for presidents’ use of data, which is important for use in backing up the stories we tell about our institutions.

Aspen is a 15-month commitment, Meghan reported, with two week-long stays and two four-day weekends. When thinking of people to nominate, she urged her colleagues to consider high-potential teammates who are ready to step up.

There are three components to the fellowship: mentor, portfolio (choose a topic that matters to your college), and a project. Her current project is rebuilding CCRI from A-Z, shifting the culture and creating a pathway to move the whole college. She would love to see more New England institutions represented in the Aspen Presidential Fellowship.

John Cox, president of Cape Cod Community College, spoke on the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents. When he started as president in 2012 he attended the seminar, which was run by Judy Block McLaughlin, who is familiar with New England and with community colleges. John did concede that the seminar’s conversations can be a little weighted toward private institutions, but the experience was valuable overall, providing an ability to watch what’s happening to the others over time. One-third of the group John started with four years ago are no longer presidents today, but the seminar’s alumni are very strong, and there is a follow-up seminar for presidents every 3-5 years.

Another opportunity, John added, is the Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminar. These are short-term programs for community college administrators, and he participated in a one-week stay in both India and Russia. It was a great experience and was paid for by the government.

Bob Pura, president of Greenfield Community College, spoke on NEASC Visiting Teams; he acknowledged that he’d recently been on a commission with Mary Ellen Jukoski, president of Three Rivers Community College.


NEASC visiting teams are about the work to do better; visiting teams are an opportunity to learn best practices, visit with colleagues, and conduct important peer reviews. Tomorrow, there will be a NEASC business meeting item regarding Pam Eddinger’s nomination to the Commission; Bob urged anyone who would be available to attend that meeting and support Pam.

Mary Ellen Jukoski added that serving on a NEASC visiting team has been a great professional development experience and has helped her understand the diversity of New England higher education institutions. They may differ in how they do business, but they have the same goal: education and equality. All are committed to what they do.

In response to a question, Bob said the role of presidents is to help the institution being visited to reflect on their self-study on behalf of stakeholders (students and community). Each visiting team reviews the self-study in relation to NEASC Standards and then meets with appropriate representatives of the campus.  Each member of the visiting collaborates on the written assessment.  As a commissioner, Bob, for example, would recuse himself from any discussions of Massachusetts community colleges. In Washington D.C., the trend is for more regulation and compliance. New England’s model is about peer review and improvement. Mary Ellen added that when people are selected for a NEASC visiting team, they can attend workshops so they’re prepared for the process, product, and conversations rather than being thrown in cold.

If someone wants to be involved, call or write NEASC and let them know.

Susan Dunton, president of NHTI, Concord’s Community College, added that her experience didn’t feel like a college audit but rather conversations on how to do different things like financial statements. As a team evaluator, you are a strategist of student outcomes, and that has both systematic and college-wide implications. One must be mindful of the new standards.

Pam Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill Community College, spoke on American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Commissions. New England isn’t so unique, Pam said; community colleges across the country all have similar issues of poverty and inequity. She urged her NECC colleagues to get to know professional organizations such as AACC, Achieving the Dream, CCRC, and others and to urge membership for their teams. Pam added that NECC presidents should consider serving on boards. New England is not represented enough.

The AACC has six standing commissions (diversity, inclusion and equality; marketing/communications; global education; academic, student and community development; economic and workplace development; and research, technology and emerging trends) plus three special commissioners on pathways, developmental education, and community colleges. The commissions meet twice a year before the annual meeting, going through the context of rising issues and allowing members to get to know their colleagues in other states.

There is always a late summer/early fall call for membership, Pam said, and membership on the board is a three-year term. You can run for office, and there are 25 members of the Board of Directors, which helps direct policy. Reports dictate best practices, and AACC helps build relationships. If New England wants to be part of that conversation, Pam explained, we need to be in the room where it happens. She encouraged her colleagues to have their voices heard and volunteered to send around emails during the next call for nominations.

Pam then spoke of the AACC Hunger Survey. Many community college students are hungry, she stated; Bunker Hill CC has 19,000 students, half of whom are on financial aid and 1,000 of whom are on food stamps. People are trying to help, such as the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, a non-profit that has been expanding the national school lunch program to include community colleges. They asked for a national audit of hunger, and the AACC is looking for 75 colleges to participate in a hunger survey. Hunger, transportation, and housing are all barriers to receiving an education, and we must try to help students overcome them. Pam hoped her NECC colleagues would be interested in participating in the AACC Hunger Survey and invited people to let her know if so.

VI. Discussion of Goals for the NECC

At last year’s dinner, Ellen said, suggestions for the NECC and its finances included sending fellows to the Aspen Institute; writing white papers to represent New England; or even dissolving the NECC and either spending its finances on scholarships or returning the money to its member institutions. What do members think this year?

Ron Cantor suggested using each other for networking. He and his colleagues in Maine have great relationships, and he’d love to see that spread out to other states in the region.

Mike Rooke said the NECC is valuable (“There’s our vice president,” Ellen joked) and suggested continuing annual gatherings/meetings at minimum.


The general consensus was to continue the work of the NECC.

John Cox added that the ACCT and AACC will be in D.C. this February, offering a chance to meet with the New England Congressional delegation. Bill Hart said he and his colleagues plan events and agency meetings around the delegation in Massachusetts. He added that it’s important to put a social event together and invite political folks to join. It’s a good way to have our voices heard on a different stage. Trustees are encouraged to attend the Conference and meetings to meet one-on-one or in groups with political leaders.

VII. Election of NECC Officers

We have had some retirements and changes, so a brief discussion and informal election resulted in the following list of NECC executive officers to represent each state in New England:

MASSACHUSETTS: John Cook, president, Springfield Technical Community College
MAINE: Ron Cantor, president, Southern Maine Community College
RHODE ISLAND: Meghan Hughes, president, Community College of Rhode Island
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Susan Huard, president, Manchester Community College
CONNECTICUT: Mike Rooke, president, Northwestern Connecticut Community College
VERMONT: Joyce Judy, president, Community College of Vermont

Ellen Kennedy will continue as Chair and Dan Asquino will remain on the l NECC Executive Board until his retirement.  Ellen will convene the Officers in February or March of 2017.

VIII. Other Business

There was no other business, and the meeting adjourned at 8:19 p.m. UMass Club staff were kind enough to shut off the lights following the meeting so NECC members could take photographs of the amazing view.


Notes from Our 12/9/15 Meeting

On December 9, 2015, 45 higher education presidents, executive officers and administrators from around New England gathered at Champions Sports Bar at the Marriott Copley in Boston to discuss the future work of the NECC.

After everyone introduced themselves, NECC President Ellen Kennedy introduced herself as the newly-elected president and noted that the NECC is here to represent all of New England. She hopes everyone will continue to think of ways the NECC can be helpful to their institution or organization.

NECC Executive Director Jack Warner said he’s pleased to be working with the NECC, which has value to add for everyone.

Dr. Warner briefly summarized the robust discussions from the NECC’s conference held on October 30th, which resulted in themes, ideas, and focuses on professional development. Jack noted that there had been clear support of the NECC having a role, and he invited everyone to share tonight what they feel is important to focus on.

Some ideas raised at the conference were:

  • Hold multiple conferences, convening affinity groups throughout the year such as chief academic officers
  • Focus on themes such as student success (could hold specific conferences on emerging themes)
  • Bring in national experts to work in-depth with teams
  • Piggyback meetings and events on existing conferences like NEASC
  • Address advocacy and policy categories
  • Hold a best practices showcase event and invite vendors; teams can share what has worked
  • Hold specific trainings on items such as Title IX
  • Conduct strategic planning (Jack mentioned that he’d attended a great session on this today at NEASC)

These are the main themes that emerged during the conference, and professional development is a major part of the NECC’s mission.

Jack invited anyone interested to serve on an NECC professional development committee. This way, the group could be in regular contact to refine ideas and solicit feedback.

Committee volunteers so far include:

  • Susan Dunton, president of NHTI, Concord’s Community College
  • Adrienne Maslin, dean of students, Middlesex Community College (CT)
  • John Cook, vice president of academic affairs, Manchester Community College (NH)
  • Raelyn Lincoln, assistant to the president, Massasoit Community College
  • Nicholas Gill, associate dean for institutional research & planning, York County Community College
  • Yves Salomon-Fernandez, interim president, Massachusetts Bay Community College
  • Mary Ellen Jukoski, president of Three Rivers Community College

Jack welcomed feedback from all present on additional ideas for the NECC to pursue.

Suggestions from dinner meeting attendees included:

  • Factor cost into professional development opportunities so cash-strapped institutions can still participate
  • Pool resources to provide better value
  • Ensure that opportunities are participatory so attendees can have something to take back to campuses with them
  • Hold specific trainings for new chairs, new deans of academic affairs, etc. and pool resources for cost-effective programming
  • Ensure that professional development opportunities are New England-specific (opportunities are available in multiple places, so NECC should offer something that focus on what makes community colleges, especially those located in New England, special and different)
  • Along with being New England-specific, consider why we’re like the rest of the U.S. We have similar challenges as TX and CA and FL, but they have a place at the table in conversations while New England often doesn’t. Let’s have our voices be heard – maybe try to get additional representatives on the AACC board.
  • Explore more connections to the Community College Leadership Academy ( and the Chair Academy (, which offers a Foundation Leadership Academy and an Academy for Advanced Leadership. Both programs are fairly cost-effective. CCLA has monthly seminars that are hosted by rotating colleges, plus a four-day summer Residency College. Chair Academy offers an intensive year-long experience with a one-week residency and then on-campus mentorship, focusing on strategic planning, leading teams, etc. Share academy curricula among NECC members. (Cape Cod Community College will be hosting a leadership academy in January. Bill Hart will send out the link with information on how to enroll.)
  • Gail Carberry was unable to attend tonight but had asked Ellen Kennedy to share her suggestion that the NECC author a white paper on a specific issue, such as how workforce development impacts the New England economy, and present it as a response to our region’s situation. Jack Warner added that he has a wonderful resource who can clearly and engagingly present statistics on workforce development and the economy if that’s a subject we want to pursue.
  • Mary Ellen Jukoski, president of Three Rivers Community College but not yet an NECC member, noted that a recent presentation on appreciative inquiry by a teammate had been well received, and she suggested that the NECC explore holding a series of presentations that can be both low-cost and excellent resources for all, using our own banks of talented experts at our institutions.

Dan Asquino provided the NECC financial report, prefacing the report by noting that he and Cathryn Addy are the longest-serving NECC members, both having begun their presidencies together on August 1, 1987. He is still proud to serve the NECC, and he reported that as of December 3rd, the NECC broke about even on the October conference. The Council has $38,612 in savings and $13,814 in checking for a total of a little over $52,000, but it also lost some investment income in its CD.

Jack Warner stated that we have about 40 members out of New England’s 60 two-year-degree-granting institutions. The more who join, the better we can share resources and spread costs.

Jack thanked all attendees for their ideas and energy. Ellen thanked Barbara Brittingham, president of the NEASC Commission in Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) for attending the NECC dinner meeting again this year, and Barbara in turn thanked everyone who had participated on NEASC standards, including Wilfredo Nieves and Bob Pura who had served on the commission.

Dr. Kennedy also suggested that we find more ways to speak with one voice as New England community colleges and to share experiences about how we have transformed lives. We know we add value; it’s time to tell our story both effectively and together.


2015 Conference Prompts “New Normal” Discussions, New Leadership

Seventy presidents, vice presidents, and other higher education teammates gathered at the Publick House Historic Inn in Sturbridge, MA on Friday, October 30 to discuss “the new normal” and how the New England College Council can better serve its members.

Continue reading 2015 Conference Prompts “New Normal” Discussions, New Leadership

Announcing Our 2015 Scholarship Winners

The New England College Council is pleased to announce that three outstanding students will be awarded NECC scholarships for the 2015-2016 academic year at NECC member institutions.

Eastern Maine Community College student Sara Clifford learned to work hard at an early age, and today she juggles three jobs to maintain her finances in addition to sustaining good grades at EMCC. Along with volunteering at various Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Student Success Center events, Sara spends quality time off-campus with local children as a volunteer Big Sister. She has a clear five-year plan to help others, beginning with earning an associate degree in early childhood development and a Behavioral Health Professional Certification, after which she will transfer her credits to the University of Maine Orono to obtain her teacher’s certification after an additional two years of coursework. She will then enroll for a fifth year of study to attain a master’s degree in guidance counseling for elementary schools, which she will apply to a career in helping children in the state of Maine. Sara’s instructor lauded her for encouraging, tutoring and mentoring her fellow students, and the judges wish her well on her ambitious and passionate plan to follow her dream of being an advisor and mentor for local youth.

In 2012, Jeanne Hallisey had to quit her supervisory job at a bank to nurse her husband, who had undergone his second stem-cell transplant, and to run her family’s household. For 25 years, Jeanne had worked in and risen through corporate ranks without a college degree, but that has become more difficult in today’s job market. She entered college for the first time last January at the age of 50 to attain an A.S. in order to pursue a new accounting position. Jeanne has already earned 43 credits toward her degree at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts and has earned a 3.95 GPA in addition to supporting her husband and children, working part-time at an internship, and serving on the board of the Amesbury Educational Foundation. Jeanne is proud of the example she is setting for her children by pursuing college and by working hard at it, and once her schedule permits it, she looks forward to continuing the extensive volunteering she had done in the Amesbury school system as well as at her children’s various sporting and school events. She was highly praised by her business professor for her impeccable work and for being a role model to other NECC students, and the judges found Jeanne inspiring and wish her the best of luck.

Sheyla Rivera, a student at Capital Community College in Connecticut, emigrated to the U.S. from Peru at 15. The experience of having to learn a new language and culture provided Sheyla with empathy to reach out to others in her situation, and for two years she taught English to immigrant adults in a local church to help them acclimate to the same new world. Despite many financial challenges and the hardship of having her mother deported, Sheyla has continued to develop and grow academically in her classes at Capital CC, professionally via a successful internship with Pepperidge Farm, and personally as the oldest child helping to run the household from a young age. She plans to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and gain experience as an exemplary banking employee until she can achieve the next step in her plan – creating a family business along with her father to aid community members with their taxes and finances. Her determination in the face of adversity, her strong desire to help people in and beyond her community, and her glowing recommendation from the accounting professor she had repeatedly impressed with her patience, professionalism, drive, and attention to detail convinced the judges to award Sheyla with a NECC scholarship.

Announcing Our 2015 Conference Speaker

The New England College Council is pleased to announce that Mark Milliron will be the 2015 NECC Conference keynote speaker.

photo of Mark Milliron courtesy of
Mark Milliron (photo courtesy of

Dr. Milliron is currently chief learning officer and co-founder of Civitas Learning, an organization committed to helping students learn well and finish strong on education journeys. An award-winning leader, author, speaker, and consultant, he has worked with universities, community colleges, K-12 schools, foundations, corporations, associations, and government agencies across the country and around the world. In previous roles, Dr. Milliron served as the founding chancellor of Western Governors University, Texas; as deputy director for postsecondary improvement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; as endowed fellow and director of the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development at the University of Texas at Austin; as vice president for education and medical practice with SAS; and as president and CEO of the League for Innovation in the Community College.  He has been a member of numerous boards and advisory groups, and in 1999, the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education named him a Distinguished Graduate for his service to the education field. In 2007, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) presented him with its National Leadership Award; in 2011, the National University Technology Network (NUTN) named him the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award; and in 2013 he was inducted into the United States Distance Learning Association’s Hall of Fame.

The New England College Council would like to thank Mount Wachusett Community College President Dan Asquino for bringing Dr. Milliron to our attention. Dan recently caught Dr. Milliron’s standing room-only presentation, “What’s in Store for Community Colleges: Results of the 2014 CEO Key Trends Survey,” at the League of Innovation Conference and found him both informative and dynamic. For his part, Dr. Milliron looks forward to tailoring a presentation especially for NECC members as they face the challenge of leading in higher education in this age of the “new normal.”

The 2015 New England College Council Conference will be held on Friday, October 30, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Publick House Historic Inn, 277 Main Street, Sturbridge, MA 01566. The cost will be $130 per person, and invitations will be sent by early May. NECC members are encouraged to bring teams of colleagues to participate in this conference.