In 1995, Northeast Community College was raising funds to build what is now known as the Lifelong Learning Center. Part of the need identified back then was to adapt to industry and society’s changing needs away from traditional learning in classrooms.
“Adult and continuing education will also play an important role at the Lifelong Learning Center,’’ said Robert Cox, who had recently retired then as the first president of Northeast Community College but was helping to raise funds for it. “More and more people need training beyond their diplomas and degrees. The workplace is becoming increasingly technologically oriented and human relations skills are emphasized more than ever before. This center will allow business, industry and individuals to continually update their career skills.’’
Fast forward 25 years and Northeast Community College is again adapting to a changing world — this time because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In late March, Northeast adopted distance learning delivery of its courses for its faculty and students and allowed many other employees the option to work remotely.
Now the college has been developing a plan to operate with a limited number of employees and students through the summer and is looking at additional measures for the fall semester.
“We need to return to a more personal business approach based on a philosophy of academic excellence and the safety of our faculty, staff and students,” said Leah Barrett, Northeast’s current president. “As the pandemic progresses, Northeast Community College is evaluating various ways to resume some of the services on our campuses to accommodate the needs of our students and constituents.”
The Northeast COVID-19 Recovery Team has been designing a business continuity plan that includes facility adjustments and guidelines, practices and procedures to ensure that the college functions effectively and safely.
Also, in June, Northeast will bring a limited number of employees back to its campuses in a staggered approach, incorporating a combination of work from home and work in college offices. Dr. Barrett said this method of work will likely be in place as the threat of COVID-19 persists, which could be for several weeks, most of the summer or even into the fall.
Northeast will continue to seek guidance from state and area public health agencies as it looks to open buildings again. And as Dr. Barrett said, “We will need to be nimble and flexible as we progress through these uncharted times.”
Times change, but it is reassuring to know that the local community college is able to adapt quickly as needed. Based on its history, we know time is on its side.