Tuesday, January 24, 2017 Board of Higher Education Meeting
Good morning and Happy New Year. I want to thank the Commissioner for his comments recognizing the role of the colleges in the development and implementation of BHE policies. On behalf of our community colleges, I want to congratulate Dr. James Vander Hooven on his appointment as president of Mount Wachusett CC as Dan Asquino prepares for his next chapter of life’s interesting journey. I also want to congratulate Dr. Laura Douglas on her appointment as President of Bristol CC as Jack Sbrega prepares for retirement.
Following on President Clark’s comment, I want to recognize my friend and colleague, Charlie Wall, who has announced his August retirement after 16 years as president of Massasoit CC and 5 years as president of Greenfield CC.
This morning’s discussion about Early College Initiatives was particularly timely as just yesterday I was having a discussion with one of our high school principals about such an initiative involving aviation maintenance. This would allow high school students to complete their aviation certificates and FAA license at the same time they graduate from high school. The community colleges are looking forward to building on the momentum for Early College along with the resources to help accelerate this initiative.
As we remind you of our commitment and appreciation for the BHE budget proposal, we also want to call out our support of two legislative bills. The first requiring the Administration to request funding for each year of the expected collective bargained costs approved in the collective bargain agreement between unions and DHE. This measure would help enhance fiscal stability for community colleges and state universities, particularly if the request is funded.
Second, recognizing the continuing need to encourage private giving, a subject touched on by Chairman Gabrieli during the Trustees Conference last year, we are very supportive of restoration of the Endowment Match Program to help leverage donations among all 29 public institutions with $10 million of incentive match funding. This change would help stimulate giving and leverage the Commonwealth’s investment in public higher education.
Let me share 4 quick info items from across our colleges:
First, North Shore Community College is creating a Gateway to College program to provide high school students who risk failing to graduate, a dual enrollment pathway increasing their potential for success. Through a $150,000 Gateway to College grant, planning is underway to serve a very diverse group of young people with strong motivation and academic promise, but who are unlikely to graduate from high school or who have already dropped out.
Second, following a competitive round of tryouts on January 13, Microsoft has extended internship offers to fifteen students from Bunker Hill Community College. The students will support the launch of Microsoft’s “Garage” Innovation Lab in Cambridge’s Kendall Square Tech hub. Three student tech teams were hired from BHCC for Coding, Generalists, and Projects.
Third, Cape Cod Community College will soon begin to train cyber-technologists to uncover the security weaknesses of computer networks, and to build even safer ones. The College is launching an Associate of Science IT Degree concentration and an Academic Certificate in Security Penetration Testing, also known as “ethical hacking.” In the program students will learn varied network configurations, study cybercrime trends, and learn technical skills critical to testing the strength of networks, and how to improve their “walls” against hackers.” Graduates will enter the field of digital database protection that is projected to explode by more than 1.5 million jobs by the end of 2019.
Fourth, because of a shortage of sleep technologists, students in Northern Essex Community College’s Sleep Technology Certificate Program are getting jobs before they graduate. Eager to hire more sleep technologists, Neurocare, the largest employer of sleep technologists in Massachusetts, recently expanded its relationship with the College, moving from being simply a clinical placement site for those in training to becoming a student employer, hiring NECC students for paid, entry-level positions. The shortage of sleep technologists is being driven in part by the closure of at least two sleep technology programs in recent years. Currently, Northern Essex is the only college in New England graduating sleep technologists.
Finally, we are looking forward to the culmination of the Higher Education Strategic Framework Working Group and clarity on the criteria to be used in the decision making process for funding capital projects, particularly those addressing long standing deferred maintenance needs for our next generations of students who will graduate and ultimately help drive our future MA economy. We’re hopeful this framework and the process will have positive implications for our community colleges in terms of the development of the Governor’s FY2018 Capital Investment Plan with inclusion of delayed community college projects and a future higher education bond bill.
On that, I thank you.