2019 has brought many changes to the NEC campus. Among the biggest are the addition of the Putnam Theater, the construction of a new gym that is planned to start within the next year, and many new faculty and staff members. But one that is sure to change the campus is the relocation of the New England College bookstore and the new Student Success Center.
Chelsea Hanrahan, Associate Professor and Director of the Danforth library, explained that the Student Success Center was born from a 2.23 million dollar Title III grant given by the government to New England College. The grant will be dispersed throughout 5 years and “…primarily focuses on colleges that apply for it to help their graduation rate and student success rate.” The goal is for students to get all the support services that they need.
Both Hanrahan and Ian Harmon, the Director of Student Success, explained that they hope to bring staff from every office to assist students. Hanrahan described the dream, “Going forward, what we were thinking is every staff member that helps students like librarians, success coaches, would do some sort of hours in the center.” Harmon explained it as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for any questions surrounding student academic success.
But Harmon doesn’t only want the center to be functional, he also wants to make it a place that students feel comfortable in and utilize. “I would love to see a wall that showcased all of our student art . . . just figuring out what students want. I think we have an idea of what students need, but it’s important to get the students’ perspective of what they’re looking for in their space.” He hopes to give them study space and more of a voice in things like the naming and brand of the center.
Harmon and his team have started to interview students to be “peer success coaches,” to both potentially offer work-study positions and give students looking for guidance more options in seeking that help. “I think it’s easy for students to open up and be a little more candid with what their situation is with other students as opposed to staff or faculty.”
The cross-office collaboration is also spreading to the Tutoring Center on the second floor of the library, where Megan Beeso, the director, has taken the first steps with Harmon to open the space to student tutors. Harmon explains that this would also allow the Success Center to stay open later, extending the hours to the very diverse schedules around campus. Beyond the peer tutors, Harmon plans on having a staff member present until 7 pm during the week.
As for the NEC bookstore, which is being displaced in all the excitement, many changes are coming as well. Paula Amato, the Chief Financial Officer of NEC, explained that while the bookstore is moving online, the school spirit store will still be found in Henniker, just up the road at 20 Main Street, right across from the financial aid offices.
With the new store being put into place, Amato explained that they are planning on accepting work study students to help run the store, as well as a full-time manager. “We’re looking into maybe even having an intern who can come in. Maybe a junior or senior in the business area who would have an opportunity to help run the store, maybe learn about budgets, learn about management, inventory, all of that kind of stuff. We’re trying to look at all different aspects.”
Harmon hopes, in the end, the Student Success Center will be a place where the residents of NEC can feel welcome and claim responsibility for their education. “It’s helping to make students feel like they are in the driver’s seat of their own education and that they do have a say, which is really important.”