NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC’s white knight sheds his armor

President Lane Glenn conducts a presentation inside the Hartleb Technology Center.Photo courtesy of NECC Newsroom

President Lane Glenn conducts a presentation inside the Hartleb Technology Center.

His feet brace the black tar like a locomotive, switching and taking turns, one after the other. The cool weather adds to the intensity, attempting, with great effort, to rein President Lane Glenn back, down to the realms of ruin.

He resists the oppressive wind; his lungs, accustomed to the attacks, continue to operate efficiently without interruption. Liberating sweat bleeds through a blue and gold shirt, whipping. A sensation of rich fire burns through his legs. He is running for his life, a means by which health and happiness drive his legs to extend beyond the demands that come with being the college president: the responsibilities, the meetings; the frustration of witnessing, in plain view, the destruction of what could have potentially been a great concept.

It can be difficult to accept failure, even more so when it clouds judgment and critical thinking. Looking back, he finds he is not alone in the fight. A group of similarly dressed runners pump their arms and moderate their breathing to endure the formidable, seemingly unending journey that they, despite all obstacles, pain, are willing to see through. Beyond escape, he finds himself, amid the President’s running club, calm and collected, in knowledge that the hardest part has yet to come.

As with any high position or lofty title, the role of college president comes with a significant amount of recognition and responsibility. Since replacing Dr. David Hartleb, who retired June 30, 2011, after whom the Technology Center is named, Glenn has taken the role as NECC’s fourth president to new heights.

Glenn’s accomplishments, as president for only three years, have been unprecedented. He has consistently and effectively focused his authority into progressing student success, support for underprepared students, among other things. Most notably, he expanded the college’s relationships with local high schools and partnered with local employers, such as Raytheon, to develop programs that deliver the skills most needed in the job market.

Indeed, Glenn has come a long way from serving as NECC’s vice president of academic affairs since 2006. In fact, it only preludes what else he has done for the college, which include, but are not limited to, the following: putting in place the college’s associate of science degree in lab science. The program was developed in partnership with 10 local employers, and an innovative Early College Program at Amesbury High School, which has been called a statewide model. Glenn also spearheaded NECC Riverwalk, bringing together credit programs, adult literacy programs, and non credit personal enrichment and career programs in one location for the first time.

Of course, without taking away credit where it is due, Glenn didn’t just develop the uncanny ability to convert opportunities into results overnight. Prior to coming to NECC, Glenn was dean of academic and student services at Oakland Community College in Michigan. He has also served as director of learning services at Lansing Community College, also in Michigan.

Lane Glenn gives a speech after a run, for which he was awarded a medal.Courtesy photo by Ernie Greenslade

Lane Glenn gives a speech after a run, for which he was awarded a medal.

When he’s not at work, Glenn leads the President’s Running Club, and engages in physical activity of almost all variances, as fitness is an important part of his life (and, occasionally, coming in first place). Furthermore, although he isn’t known for theatricality or making a scene, do not be fooled. Glenn holds a Ph.D. in theater from Michigan State University.

Yet these are all things we’ve always known about Glenn (except for that last bit, of course). Because of his involvement in many events and decisions related to the college, few have seen what Glenn is like outside of being president. Without too much difficulty, it’s easy to recall the dark blazer, the pleated pants brisking through the Haverhill Campus on a day without remembrance — the charming, winning attitude that breaks through even the most coy and standoffish of people, with an air of ease that lowers even an enemy’s defense to allow for genuity, of the highest caliber, to have its day — the practiced yet naturally alluring smile pasted, brightly and smartly, on the college’s website or the NECC Observer. Yet there’s very little known about the person behind the smile, and what troubling thoughts occasionally slip through the rigid, optimist creed Glenn lives by and holds himself to.

He’s a man who never seems to be in one place for too long, slipping in and out of rooms, smoothing through the orderly chaos of a meeting or an unexpected encounter with yet another suit smiling and shaking his hand. Sanity, ebbing and flowing, holds his tongue in place. Regardless of sitting through a luncheon or speaking at an event, this is business as usual, and President Lane Glenn is no novice: the business of leading a life that begins with a handshake and ends with a smile is second nature to the NECC President.

So is establishing relationships and bringing people together. Two weeks ago, Glenn and others celebrated Gov. Deval Patrick’s announcement of $1.2 million going to Greater Lawrence Vocational Technical High School to rebuild their machining labs. According to Ernie Greenslade, Director of Public Relations, it was the result of a conversation Glenn had with s Greg Bialecki, Massachusetts’ Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. Upon a chance encounter, Glenn saw Bialecki and reached out to him about the machining program at Greater Lawrence Vocational Technical High School. It is a non credit program that receives grants so that it can be offered, but with little to no up to date equipment to train people on, it has been near to impossible to manage.

“We’re trying, there’s this demand, there’s jobs available, but we just don’t have the equipment to train people for these jobs,” said Greenslade. Shortly after, NECC partnered with Greater Lawrence, along with some machining businesses, and wrote a grant for $1.2 million to fund the machining program.
“He doesn’t want the credit, he just wants to make it happen,” said Greenslade.
But even the most successful of people have experienced failure of one form or another, suffered from some mistake, and Glenn is no exception.

“I think the problem that someone like Lane Glenn occasionally faces, because they’re so optimistic, so much of an idealist, is that they may sometimes fail to prioritize and set a reachable goal for their ideas,” said Greenslade.

As a dreamer, Glenn has sometimes fallen short of his goals. It has resulted in unborn seeds that could have blossomed into a grant for people in need, a program in demand but without supply. In spite of his past error and failures, Glenn maintains, unbroken, his vision of helping people and making a difference.
He’s running by himself now, the competitive beast within unraveled and hungry. The loops, white lines organize and measure the outburst of athletic energy. For a while. Eventually, he allows himself to be consumed by the moment, to coarse through his veins. The pain unleashes him into the element. He is in his domain, where nothing survives except the light of his optimism.

Glenn runs faster; his legs ignite, his breathing thickens. And suddenly, suddenly he feels nothing: a height of inexplicable feeling whites out and numbs everything, solidifying, to great pleasure, the chaotically beautiful crescendo of his transformation. And suddenly, Glenn is no longer running. He is free.