Northern Essex Community College Honors Four Retirees with Emeritus Status

Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn presents retired NECC English Professor Joseph LeBlanc of Haverhill with emeritus honor during NECC’s May commencement exercises. LeBlanc was one of four to receive the honor. (Courtesy photograph.)

Four recent Northern Essex Community College retirees were elevated to the honor of emeritus status during the institution’s 57th Annual commencement last month.

Joseph LeBlanc of Haverhill, Jane Gagliardi of Gloucester, Karen Blanchard Mitchell of Bow, N.H., and Charlene Kennedy of Richmond, N.H., received the rank of emeritus—an honor that recognizes sustained excellence in performance, character and meritorious service to the college.

LeBlanc was named Professor Emeritus of English. He joined the college’s English faculty in 1988, and served for more than a decade as advisor to the “Observer,” the award-winning, student newspaper, and coordinator of the college’s Journalism Program.

“Joe was demanding but well-loved and greatly respected,” said Glenn. “Under his leadership, the Observer received national and regional recognition.”

Later, LeBlanc served in multiple roles with the Massachusetts Community College Council, the statewide organization of faculty and professional staff, including as local chapter president and president of the statewide organization. He provided leadership for the MCCC while continuing to teach at the college until last year.

Gagliardi, named Professor Emerita of Human Services, was a clinical social worker and therapist for 25 years prior to joining the Human Services faculty at Northern Essex in 2001.  She retired last year as coordinator of the program.

Blanchard Mitchell, named Director Emerita of Pathways to Academic and Career Excellence, was the first in her family to earn a college degree, and she devoted her career to helping other first-generation students succeed in college. She joined Northern Essex as a career and academic counselor in 1993, and, in 1997, was named director of the PACE Program, a federally funded program that provides support services for disadvantaged students.

Kennedy was named Professor Emerita of Theater. Along with her partner, Susan Sanders, she was the face of Northern Essex’s Theater Program for more than 30 years. In addition to teaching, she directed two, full-length shows each year—productions that ranged from Shakespeare to Broadway musicals. She also acted alongside her students, most famously in the college’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol” which she starred in and directed for 15 years.

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