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Barrett's remarks kick off the new academic year at fall in-service

Barrett's remarks kick off the new academic year at fall in-service

NORFOLK, Neb. – There was excitement on the Northeast Community College campus Wednesday --- more than what accompanies the usual jitters that mark the start of a new school year.

Northeast Community College President Leah Barrett provided the welcome back to faculty and staff as they prepare for the arrival of students and start of classes next week. Northeast closed its doors for the morning so all employees could participate in their annual in-service training. The president provided a state of the college address and allowed time for Q&A with the rest of the in-service dedicated to learning more about supporting students’ mental health. 

Northeast hosted representative of the JED Foundation, an organization created in the late 1990s by Phil and Donna Satow after their youngest son, Jed, died by suicide. The Foundation works to protect student mental health and prevent suicide. 

Out of more than 500 colleges and universities that are JED Campuses, Northeast is the first college where all faculty and staff participated in training. “We know that our students struggle with their mental health. Equipping our faculty and staff with tools and resources to support our students is critical,” said Barrett.   

While many Northeast employees have been attending these in-service events for years, the start of a new year is hardly routine. Each year brings its own challenges and excitement, which is especially true for 2023-24.

Some new instructors have been added. Others changed program areas. Some employees are in new positions or buildings, especially with the planned reconstruction of the Maclay Building. And then there’s the once-a-decade Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation visit and the observance of the 50th anniversary, with events planned throughout 2023-24.

“We have a very busy year,” Barrett said. 

Beyond the HLC accreditation, there are other program accreditations in 2023-24, including Automotive Technology, Basic Nurse Aide and Medication Aide, Paramedic, Associate Degree Nursing, and Veterinary Technology.

The in-service began with a review of the statutory requirements that created Northeast in 1973. As part of its mission to students, Northeast remains committed to keeping tuition low. No more than 20% of the college’s revenue comes from tuition, with it currently at about 18%, Barrett said.

“It’s about students. We always start there and end there,” she said.

Based on the smiles and handshakes that were shared, however, instructors and staff at the in-service seem eager to return to the profession they appear to love. And why wouldn’t they?

The college president noted that Northeast is a rewarding and inspirational place to work with attention to compensation and benefits, consistent application of procedures and protocol, shared governance, and improved faculty on-boarding --- among other things.

The college has invested heavily in technology, which includes cybersecurity. And more is on the way, with the iHub coming for students. iHub will be an innovation campus in downtown Norfolk, Barrett said. 

The planned 50th anniversary observation was noted with videos of several employees commenting on the school spirit that has been prevalent over the decades. Employee comments included that school spirit and academic achievement go hand in hand, that school spirit is a sense of pride in the school, and bonds are created among Northeast students and between students and instructors that last beyond college. They also took a break to head outdoors to pose for a photo standing in the shape of the number 50 that was shot from above by a drone. 

Barrett said employees and students have a lot to be proud of at the college.

“Thank you all for doing what you do and being who you are,” she said. “We are very fortunate to have you on campus.”


                                                                                               PHOTO CUTLINE 

Faculty and staff at Northeast Community College poses in the shape of a 50 during a break in the college’s fall in-service recently. Northeast is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the 2023-24 academic year.