NORFOLK, Neb. – The faculty and staff at Northeast Community College came together at the end of the academic year to mark its conclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic and to recognize several longtime employees who are leaving the institution.
At the 2021 Employee Success & Retirement Celebration in the Cox Activities Center Gymnasium on the Norfolk campus, employees gathered with their co-workers to observe the conclusion of the academic year and to congratulate retirees and present them with “retirement good wishes boxes” that included cards and notes of congratulations.
This year, 23 employees with a combined 625 years of service to the College are retiring. Nine of them leave with over 20-years of service; five with over 30-years; three over 40 years; and one is retiring with over 50-years of service to the College and its predecessor institutions.
Also, at the event, Leah Barrett, president, conferred emeritus status on two longtime employees - Karen Severson, former vice president of student services, and Debb Strate, executive assistant in the agriculture, math & science division.
Emeritus at Northeast is awarded to a retiree who has been employed by the College for 15 or more years and whose nomination validates excellent service, as well as, positive moral and ethical behavior inside and outside of the institution.
Severson, who recently stepped down from serving as interim associate vice president of human resources, joined Northeast in 1990. In addition to serving as vice president of student services for 26-years, she held the roles of director of the career achievement center, dean of admissions, dean of enrollment management, and adjunct instructor. Her Emeritus award is for her work as vice president.
During her time at Northeast, Severson earned the Nebraska Community College Association’s Administrator Award as well as the Distinguished College Administrator Award by Phi Theta Kappa.
“This College means the world to me,” Severson said in accepting the award. “I love the students; I love the faculty and staff. It’s been a great run – the first time and the second time. It is an extremely privileged honor and I thank you.”
Strate joined Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast, in 1968. She began as secretary to the dean of students - later changed to secretary to the dean of instruction. She also served as part-time secretary in the Agriculture Department which evolved into a full-time position as executive assistant to the dean of agriculture and technology and to what is now known as the Agriculture, Math and Science Division.
In Dec. 2020, Strate was nominated by the Ag, Math and Science division for the US Bank Great Performer Award for Non-Faculty Staff. However, she was not eligible for the award, as she is a previous recipient of the recognition. However, the nomination form with comments from 31 employees was so impressive it became the nomination for her to be recognized with Emeritus status.
“It’s been a wonderful, wonderful journey at Northeast Community College,” Strate said. “I could have never imagined receiving this award. Thank you everyone.”
Leah Barrett, president of Northeast Community College (center) is pictured with 2021 Northeast Emeritus award recipients Karen Severson (left) and Debb Strate during the College’s 2021 Employee Success & Retirement Celebration recently. (Courtesy Northeast Community College)