Northern Essex Celebrates Reopening of Main Classroom Building

Participating in the ribbon cutting were, from left to right, Jonathan Spurk, grandson of John Spurk; Rep. James Kelcourse; Steven Spurk, John Spurk’s brother; Michael Heffernan, secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance; Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives; John Spurk, son of John Spurk; Jeffrey Linehan, chair of the college’s board of trustees; Carol Gladstone, commissioner of the state’s construction arm; James Peyser, secretary of education; Lane Glenn, college president; John Dimitry, former president; Sen. Barbara L’Italien; Sen. Bruce Tarr; Rep. Linda Dean Campbell; Bill Heineman, NECC vice president of academic and student affairs; Hannah Benning, NECC student trustee; and William D. Cox, vice chair of the board of trustees.

The Spurk classroom building at Northern Essex Community College was formally rededicated this week after being closed for a year for $18 million in renovations.

Earlier this month, Northern Essex President Lane A. Glenn told college trustees why the building is vitally important to the college.

“The Spurk building houses 65 percent of our classes and it has been closed for a year,” he said.

Referring to the many students who are preparing for careers, state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, who is a member of the Joint Higher Education Committee and spoke on behalf of the college’s legislative delegation, said the Spurk Building is “More than just a building; it’s a space where dreams become reality.”

And Bill Heineman, vice president of academic and student affairs who was representing the college’s faculty, staff, and students, said “If you wonder what we do in this building, there’s a simple and profound answer, we change people’s lives.”

The 89,000-square foot building is almost 50 years old. The renovations delivered new windows, flooring and audiovisual equipment in the classrooms, a new HVAC system, new restrooms and handicapped accessibility upgrades.

Also speaking as part of the program celebrating the renovation were James Peyser, state secretary of education, and Michael Heffernan, secretary of the executive office for administration and finance.

Peyser said that this renovation project is part of a statewide plan to fix existing facilities rather than build new ones.  “We want to create more flexible and inviting space.   It’s all about student success.”

In addition to 33 classrooms and 54 faculty offices, the Spurk Building houses the college’s Career Center, Business and Accounting Academic Center, Academic Coaching Center, Reading and Writing Center, gathering and performance spaces.

Constructed in 1971 as part of the college’s first permanent campus, the building was renamed in memory of Dr. John Spurk, a professor of history and government for 24 years until his retirement and later death in 1991. A history of the college written by Spurk is being published.  John Dimitry, who served as the second president of Northern Essex from 1975 to 1996 and attended the event with his wife Audrey, asked Spurk to write the history in 1986.  The published edition will contain an update written by Mary Wilson, dean emeritus of the college, with contributions from Wendy Shaffer, dean of development.