This third strategic priority recognizes that the college will have to act and think in fundamentally different ways to accomplish the first two priorities and the new vision.
It commits NSCC to use its financial, human, and physical resources to effectively build this transformational college environment for today and tomorrow. While NSCC has a track record of responsible fiscal management, building a future-focused college environment will necessitate that the college make strategic investments in developing human capital and creating programs aligned with urgent regional needs, while at the same time committing to responsible resource management, guided by principles of environmental sustainability.
This includes working smarter by serving our students with simpler processes, informed by readily accessible data.
NSCC is implementing a new data software package named Zogotech, for instance, that will allow more members of the college community to access and parse the information they need to serve students well. Being able to disaggregate student completion data by program, in core courses, or by race in major courses, allows faculty and program coordinators to better address equity gaps at the course level.
Providing such democratic access decentralizes information and arms the faculty and staff delivering curriculum with the tools to adapt and tailor that curriculum. Combined with the Navigate student success tool, NSCC will be able to more quickly identify groups of students with specific needs, communicate with them, and deliver solutions, buttressing student retention and completion.
Making support unavoidable for students by integrating it into their experience at the college is also part of this strategic priority and a key retention tool.
During the pandemic, the college created a virtual student support center called CentroHub, which allowed students to access academic advising, financial aid, and other services remotely. Students’ use of CentroHub remains strong even as the pandemic wanes and they are increasingly on campus for classes. The ability to move a student among staffers with different expertise to meet all of their needs in a single “virtual visit” makes it far more likely students will take advantage of all the support the college offers.
There is an opportunity to scale CentroHub as the tool for students needing these types of services, should it prove the best way to meet student needs. This “on the fly” adaptation is evidence that the college regularly reviews initiatives for efficacy in order to best determine where resources should be focused.
Meanwhile, on the academic support side of the student experience, this priority will consider the use of a Learning Commons model to expose students to available services and make it easier to access them.
For instance, students are more likely to take advantage of tutoring or other academic support if it is collocated in a space where students can also study together, access technology, speak with faculty, grab a cup of coffee, or hang out with peers. Students who use such services tend to have much better academic outcomes and NSCC will make these supports part of the way they experience college–rather than something they need to seek out on their own–to encourage all students to take advantage of them.
A key to a transformed college experience for students is faculty and staff who are engaged in meaningful work and enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
This priority specifically focuses on our human capital. It will take advantage of the pandemic’s impact on where and how employees wish to work through an evolving telework policy. NSCC will embrace change as a constant and make a much deeper investment in professional development to burnish faculty and staff skills in innovation and change management. This will require developing an entire lifecycle of professional development for faculty and staff at the college. Innovation will also be celebrated with awards and events that support a culture of hope, excitement, and belonging at NSCC.
Moreover, this priority involves seeking new approaches to the design of faculty and staff positions with both community partners (such as shared Health Care faculty positions with hospitals) and our collective bargaining units.
This type of innovation will be necessary to attract top talent to NSCC at a time of severe labor shortages, while also maintaining financial sustainability. Opportunities exist with regional partners, specifically in the healthcare sector, where NSCC has already begun talks regarding “endowed” positions that take advantage of shared resources.
In fact, careful stewardship of the college’s financial resources is central to this priority.
On the one hand, stabilizing funds like HEERF and ARPA will be exhausted this year even as enrollment has not yet recovered. On the other hand, NSCC built up significant reserves from the past strategic plan. Pell funds are set to increase incrementally over the next few years, and the Commonwealth’s commitment to sustaining the SUCCESS Fund is strong. Coupled with new approaches to donor giving and an increase in dual enrollment/early college, NSCC will have the resources necessary for innovation to maintain financial stability.
Moreover, these financial resources could be a catalyst for changing how our students pay for college.
NSCC will examine student financial behavior carefully to understand how their reliance on financial aid, debt, and scholarships is evolving in the wake of the pandemic. Based on that analysis, the college will consider some of the many “Promise” models evolving around the country for meeting student financial need. Then it will develop its own model, including the potential to leverage philanthropic resources with its strong financial reserves for proven approaches to improving student completion.
An early leader in implementing sustainability practices at its facilities, NSCC boasts the first net neutral building built by the State of Massachusetts, our Health Professions building in Danvers.
Features like passive solar gain, a green roof, and geothermal heating/cooling paved the way for DCAMM to realize the benefit to the state of up front costs in building net neutral facility. These early innovations, though, were only the beginning. NSCC recently received a Mass EVIP (Electrical vehicle incentive program) grant to install four EV charging stations at the Lynn campus and plans are underway to apply for a grant to fund charging stations on the Danvers campus.
The college is committed to a planned vehicle replacement program to transition to electric vehicles over the next ten years. Additionally, the college participates in “demand response” programs at both campuses, reducing its power load to remove stress from the grid and prevent brownouts. NSCC is committed to reducing its footprint and to do so has replaced less efficient boilers and new state of the art compensating boilers that deliver heat and energy savings simultaneously.
An early adopter of rooftop solar arrays, the college recently replaced inverters in its current systems to improve energy output. Finally, NSCC has collaborated with the Environmental Club to relaunch and promote single stream recycling at both campuses. Continued environmentally sustainable investment and programming will assure climate resilient facilities in our coastal region at a time of extreme weather events.
STRATEGIC PRIORITY #3 METRICS
Metrics for this strategic priority include both lag and lead indicator targets to help NSCC monitor progress in building a transformative environment in its facilities, human resources, and culture.
- Alignment of investment in academic programs to regional need (lead)
- Funding for new academic programming and student support services designed to meet student needs (lag)
- Dollars saved from improvement in energy or other facilities/technology improvement investments (lead)
- Allocation of non-state funds and fundraising to capital adaptation and renewal (lead)
- Faculty, staff, and student use of physical and virtual spaces, by modality (lead/lag)
- Establish baseline academic/student support program facilities and technology needs and decrease the number of programs with unmet needs (lead)
- Return on net assets (lag)
- Increase the annual College’s Operating Margin (lag)
College Culture-Related Metrics
- Percentage of faculty and staff participating in professional development (lead/lag)
- Student and Employee Feelings of Belonging and Engagement (lead/lag)
- Employee Retention (lag)
- Student and Employee Participation in NSCC Events and Initiatives (lead)
- Engagement with NSCC social media accounts (lag)
- Participation rate in Foundation Programs and Initiatives (lag)