Karina Barriga Albring
Recently deserted Appian Way now witnesses hundreds of young faces going in and out every two hours. Backpacks, the smell of coffee and breakfast wraps come and go. The fields that once seemed too quiet host intramural games and practices for fall sports. Music has replaced silence and books have replaced flowers. Sunny days may cause confusion, but a new year has begun at Keene State College and summertime is now long gone.
Along with welcoming more than a thousand freshmen from the class of 2017, this year the college also greets its 10th president, New Hampshire born-and-raised Dr. Anne Huot, and also has permitted Interim President Dr. Jay Kahn to return to his duties as the leader in charge of KSC’s finances.
“I am excited for the new year and I am excited for the new president,” Kahn said, who took back his position as Vice President for Finance and Planning after serving as Interim President for academic year 2012-2013. “The start of school always brings a lot of energy to the campus,” Kahn said.
Some new faces to KSC indicated they feel energetic and excited to be at the college. “Everyone here is very friendly and enthusiastic. In just two weeks I have been able to meet a lot of people, I feel completely comfortable. I feel a great connection with Keene State, and that’s something I’ve always wanted to experience at a college,” said junior Mynam Huynh, who recently transferred from Plymouth State University.
Freshman DJ Lancaster said he was glad to “get off with a good start for this year.” He then said, “Also, campus life in Keene is very exciting. I feel I’m learning a lot of new things and having fun.”
As the new president settles into her duties, just like another freshman, Dr. Huot is equally excited herself. “This is really a great community. People have been very welcoming. There is a sense of optimism in the air,” the president said.
Involvement on campus
Dr. Huot officially assumed her role July 1. Currently, getting to know the student body and faculty is her number one priority, Dr. Huot said. “Being present on campus is really important. It is vital to make sure that the students have a voice in how we think about our future.”
In order to allow the faculty and staff to share with the new president, the president’s office will host informal group meetings with Dr. Huot throughout the semester starting September 19.
Currently, there are 12 sessions scheduled for the fall and they are full.
Challenges and goals
After being at KSC for about two months, the president gave her perspective on this academic year and referred to some of the challenges the college currently faces. Dr. Huot said improving some academic as well residential facilities appears on top of the college officials’ to-do-list. “We have to look into not only the quantity of our residential life housing but also the quality of some of it. And we need to plan to address that,” Dr. Huot said.
Freshman Kyle Hastbacka lives in Holloway Hall. About his dorm, he said, “I think it is a fun place, and I don’t feel it is crappy at all. I know most freshman Res Halls are ok, except for Randall Hall. You don’t hear a lot of good things about it.”
Regarding academic buildings, Huot said, “many of those need freshening. We need to get some technology into the classrooms.”
For Dr. Kahn, some challenges include building KSC’s regional and national reputation as an institution. According to Kahn, some goals college officials have set for the future are to “expand our reputation as an outstanding liberal arts college and as a college that is concerned about the future of their graduates.”
Building a platform
Former Interim President Kahn referred to his time in the office as a challenging year. “We needed to stabilize the campus in order for a new presidency to begin, we wanted to establish a good platform for the new president to build a chapter in our history.” Kahn said the decision made by the state legislature to restore appropriation and freeze in-state tuition for N.H. students “was crucial to stabilize things in the college. It helped us keep making education accessible for our students,” Kahn said.
Upcoming changes: New Provost
Last year Dr. Melinda Treadwell was assigned the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Treadwell is in an interim two-year term which ends in the summer of 2014. This month the college will start a national search for the new provost.
The search committee will include faculty members, staff, students and community members. “There will probably be more faculty in this committee than there were in the presidential search committee because the provost is the chief of the academic office,” the president said. According to Dr. Hout, the position will be open to anybody who wants to apply. “It is Provost Treadwell’s choice [whether she wants to reapply for the position],” the president said.
Provost Treadwell said she is considering whether she will apply for the permanent position. “I love the job, I’m very passionate about KSC. I need to talk to more of our faculty members to see what they are looking for in the person that will be the provost. If I meet all these characteristics, and can serve the college, well then absolutely, I will apply.”
Treadwell will be going on maternity leave in the following weeks. “I will take the time that is legally required to give birth and the I will be back in the college,” Treadwell said.
Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org