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Registrar celebrates 40 years at Northern Maine Community College

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — In 1977, a gallon of gas cost 63 cents, the Dow Jones was under 1,000 and the first mobile cell phone was still months from being unveiled. Now gas is closer to $2.75 and the Dow is over 24,000. Much has changed, but one constant at Northern Maine Community College has been registrar Betsy Harris, the college’s longest-serving employee.

NMCC recently honored Harris and other employees with annual Longevity Awards.

Harris spent the past 28 years as registrar, but her story at NMCC goes back a dozen more years when she was hired as a clerk.

“I remember when I began working at Northern Maine Vocational Technical Institute (NMVTI): there were only two new buildings, the Christie Building and Andrews Hall. All of the other buildings were old base buildings,” said Harris.

Since that time, Harris has witnessed the growth of campus with notable building additions such as the John Martin Building, Edmunds Building, and most recently, the Smith Wellness Center. But the most satisfying change to Harris came in the form of the information technology revolution and a new student information management system.

“What a dream come true — it has certainly made my job responsibilities much easier,” said Harris. “The combination of software and data improvements makes it possible to organize and analyze data faster than when I first began.”

Through the years, Harris has seen many employees come and go.

“I have worked with six presidents and five deans of students and have enjoyed working under the direction of all of them,” she said.

She has worked with current NMCC President Timothy Crowley for many of those years – 15 while he has been president.

“Betsy has made, and continues to make, an important contribution to the day-to-day operations of the college,” he said. “Her ability to adapt and change as the Maine Community College System has changed over the past 40 years is amazing. Her high standards and ability to meet deadlines have been a trademark of her work and we are fortunate to have her as an employee and a leader at NM.”

Harris says the college is much more than just brick and mortar. It’s the people that make it what it is. She appreciates the support of administration, faculty and staff, but it’s the students who win her heart.

“The greatest highlight is when students thank me for encouraging them to remain in school, when, in fact, they want to quit,” she said. “It is an awesome feeling — knowing that they have reached their goals! The excitement and happiness on their faces, makes for such a proud moment on graduation day.”

Over her 40 years, Harris has also noted some changes in the student population.

“Students’ needs have certainly changed. They are trying to juggle family and job responsibilities, class scheduling, homework, etc.,” said Harris. “It is very challenging. Students seem to be busier, struggling with everyday hectic schedules.”

Harris knows her time at NMCC will eventually end, but doesn’t want to dwell on the inevitable.

“Life is short and fragile; so, don’t take it for granted,” she said. “Find your passion, if you really love what you do, you will find that your life is worth living and you will have true happiness. Also, choose a way of life that helps to make the world a better place.”

Dr. William Egeler, NMCC dean of students, says Harris has served countless individuals in her role as Registrar at the College.

“Her dedication and commitment to the students, the college and Aroostook County, in addition to her attention to detail, has served all well. We could not have a better person represent us in this capacity.  Personally, I can always rely on Betsy’s knowledge, integrity and loyalty, for which I am always thankful and appreciative.”

The following employees also received Longevity Awards:

For five years of service:  Ryan Bugbee.

For 10 years: Jennifer Graham and Paul Lajoie.

For 15 years: Dean Duplessis, Karl Jackson, David Wyman, Carol McCleary and Tammy Nelson.

For 20 years, Robert Rice.

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