News Briefs

NSCC Students, Faculty and Staff Must be Fully Vaccinated by Jan. 2022

All employees and any students studying or coming to campus must be fully vaccinated by January 2022 President William Heineman announced today.

 The decision was made unanimously by the Presidents of all the state’s 15 community college.

“During the last eighteen months, the Massachusetts Community Colleges have prioritized the health and safety of our communities while also recognizing that many of our students have been disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While a significant number of students, faculty, and staff are already vaccinated or are in the process of becoming vaccinated, the fifteen colleges are seeking to increase the health and safety of the learning and working environment in light of the ongoing public health concerns and current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” it was noted in a joint statement.

 Students who seek to register for courses that do not include any in-person component, and who do not plan to come on campus for any reason for the Spring 2022 semester, will not be required to provide documentation of vaccination.

 The announcement comes amid a rise in the number of new cases of COVID-19 across the Commonwealth, the increased access and availability of vaccines, the Food & Drug Administration’s full and pending approval of available vaccines, and CDC guidance that the COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to be extremely safe and highly effective at preventing infection, severe disease, hospitalization, and death, the requirement is aimed at ensuring the safest learning and working environment possible for the more than 135,000 students served by the community colleges each year.

 “The Massachusetts Community Colleges are committed to ensuring vaccination status is not a barrier to students and will continue offering a range of virtual learning opportunities and services,” Heineman said.

Lynn Man Sentenced for Possession of Ammunition

A Lynn man was sentenced for illegally possessing ammunition as a previously convicted felon.

 Paul Votano, 38, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf to 78 months in prison and three years of supervised release. On May 13, 2021, Votano pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of ammunition.

 In September 2019, Votano arranged the sale of a Romarm Cuguir, AK-47 rifle and over 300 rounds ammunition with a cooperating witness. Following the sale, agents observed Votano carry the ammunition and store it in a vehicle. Due to prior felony convictions, Votano is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition.

 Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell and James Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Field Division made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip A. Mallard of Mendell’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit prosecuted the case.

 This prosecution is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

Salem State University Launches Bachelor of Liberal Studies Major

 This fall, Salem State University is launching a new, flexible academic major in liberal studies. The new major, which provides an interdisciplinary curriculum, is responsive to many student needs and allows for a degree completion option at Salem State. It will benefit traditional, transfer and adult learners looking to develop knowledge across a variety of academic areas and grow as creative and critical thinkers. The major is primarily designed to meet the needs of learners with some prior college credits or students who have changed majors and are seeking a pathway to integrate what they have learned and graduate on time. The major is offered by Salem State’s interdisciplinary studies department.

“As a department committed to equity and access, we are excited to add a major that will allow students to maximize prior coursework, creating a robust degree path designed to ease the journey to graduation for students who may have switched majors or taken courses in multiple academic areas,” said Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, chairperson of the interdisciplinary studies department. “In the liberal studies major, students build 21st century skills of integration and synthesis across areas of academic inquiry, preparing them to succeed in a global world as they meet their personal and educational goals.”

The liberal studies major requires students to complete a foundational interdisciplinary studies methods and research course, complete a capstone research project  and work with a faculty advisor to cluster their additional courses around two or three academic areas or themes drawing on courses throughout the university.

“We look forward to teaching and mentoring students along their journeys to personal and professional success,” said Duclos-Orsello. “Our aim is to build creative and critical thinkers suited to lead and make change, with justice at the center in all sectors.”  

In addition to liberal studies, the university’s interdisciplinary studies department offers a major in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in American studies, peace and conflict studies, and a robust self-designed option.

For more information about the liberal studies major or Salem State’s department of interdisciplinary studies, please visit or contact Chair Duclos-Orsello at [email protected] or 978.542.6354.

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