Keene State College

Keene State College has hit its enrollment goal this spring for the incoming freshman class.

That goal, more modest than in years past, reflects an overall downsizing of the college in response to regional demographic trends. 

Many schools in the northeast have been struggling to stabilize enrollment as local high school class sizes, and therefore general application pools, have shrunk. 

Britta Greene / NHPR

Keene State College today broke ground on an expansion to its Mason Library, a project aimed at bringing its academic programming and research resources on genocide studies under one roof.

Courtesy of Keene State College

Keene State College is pledging to run its heat plant completely off biofuels, rather than heating oil, in less than two years. In that same window, it will look to cut per capita electric, heat and water use by 20 percent.

Those are among a number of new sustainability goals the college is announcing this week.

By 2030, the school is also pledging to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions by half over current levels, as well as divert upwards of 90 percent of its waste. 

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Keene State College is making a play for students of a small private school in Massachusetts that is closing at the end of the year.

Officials at Mount Ida College in Newton recently announced that undergraduate students will be offered automatic admission to the University of Massachusetts' Dartmouth campus when Mount Ida closes later this year. Some majors aren't offered at UMass Dartmouth, however, causing confusion among students.

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Keene State Biology Professor Susan Whittemore was at a conference last summer when she first heard statistics about hunger among college students nationwide.

The numbers struck her. Of course, she knew college was expensive, but she hadn’t thought about how that might be affecting her own students’ ability to feed themselves on a day-to-day basis.

Buyouts and cost-cutting in recent months at Keene State College have put the school on track to balance its budget for the coming fiscal year, according to Interim President Melinda Treadwell.

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The University System of New Hampshire is expanding a program offering four years of free tuition to in-state students who qualify for federal Pell grants.

The program, known as "Granite Guarantee," began last year at the University of New Hampshire.  It'll now expand to cover Keene State College and Plymouth State University. Those schools will begin covering tuition for first-year students enrolling next fall.

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A professor from Keene State College is representing five of her students in a lawsuit against the city of Keene for failing to fulfill Right-to-Know requests.

Journalism professor Marianne Salcetti calls the students the “Keene State Five.” Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with her about the lawsuit.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

How did this all come about?

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Keene State College Interim President Melinda Treadwell will host a live video conference for admitted students and their parents next week.  This comes as Keene State looks to improve its enrollment numbers while navigating significant budget cuts.

Treadwell says the live chat she's planned will be a first for prospective families. “I'd rather be very direct with parents about where we are and the bright future than to wait for folks to fill in the blanks,” she said, pointing to recent news headlines.

State University System Chancellor Todd Leach cites several factors behind cost-cutting measures at Keene State College.

Besides declining enrollment and competition, he says there was a perception that Keene State was in fiscal trouble due to a cut in state funding in 2010.

“We can look and see the numbers drop there,” he said on The Exchange.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Keene State College’s alumni weekend this fall kicked off with a 5k run around campus. Justina Reichelt, a 2003 graduate, crossed the finish line pushing her 2-year-old son in a stroller.

Reichelt actually grew up in Keene. She now lives in Vermont, so not far away, but she almost didn’t come back for alumni festivities this year. “I was at one of those turning points where I was thinking - maybe I should take my degrees off my wall and put them under my desk,” she said. “You know, I was embarrassed.”

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Keene State College will offer buyouts to faculty and staff as part of ongoing efforts to cut costs. The college may also look at layoffs in early 2018, said Interim President Melinda Treadwell.

Enrollment declines have fueled Keene State's recent financial struggles. The college relies heavily on tuition income for its operating budget. 

Courtesy of Keene State College

New Hampshire police chiefs overwhelmingly cite drug abuse as the most serious problem facing their communities, according to a new survey from Keene State College.

“Police chiefs are confronting these problems every day,” said Keene State Professor Angela Barlow, who directed the survey. “And they’re having very little success at reducing the opioid crisis and addiction issues within their communities.”

The survey went out to all full-time police chiefs in New Hampshire last year. About half, including those from the largest cities, responded, Barlow said.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Keene State College is partnering with the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation in New York to welcome a visiting international scholar focusing on genocide studies this fall.  Hikmet Karcic is on campus through December and will speak on the Bosnian genocide at  Keene's public library on Thursday.

Karcic, from the city of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is working toward a PhD on the use of concentration camps in his country in the 90s.

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The new president of Keene State College says she is working quickly to try to right the school’s balance sheet.

The college has struggled in recent years to attract and retain students. Lower-than-expected enrollment has translated to significant declines in revenue from tuition.

This week, interim President Melinda Treadwell is launching a task force to look closely at the school’s admissions and enrollment strategy. She’ll ask that group to deliver preliminary recommendations next month.

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A bid to bring the pumpkin festival back to Keene prevailed Thursday night after an unexpected last minute challenge from local officials.

Keene's mayor cast a tie-breaking vote at the city council meeting to allow the event to go forward.

In the past, the festival has broken world records for the most lit jack-o-lanterns in one place. But it was canceled in 2014 after riots broke out. Now. organizers are planning a much smaller, kid-focused festival.

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The former president of Keene State College, Anne Huot, received a severance payout of more than $300,000 after stepping down earlier this year.

The University System of New Hampshire said Huot would take a year of unpaid leave when it announced her resignation in June. But she received a $327,225 severance payment following her resignation.

The college has recently struggled to contain its deficit. Officials say low enrollment is largely to blame. Todd Leach, chancellor of the state university system, was unavailable Thursday to comment on the severance agreement.

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Keene State College is looking to cut costs as the school year kicks off. The college was expecting to run a deficit this year, but revenue is down even more than anticipated due to low student enrollment.

Administrators are looking for areas where spending can be tightened without affecting student experience. Todd Leach, chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire, said low enrollment isn't just a challenge for Keene State. “Every college in New England really has to be making some adjustments for changing demographics,” he said.

Britta Greene / NHPR

Christopher Cantwell has been in the news in Keene this week. The city resident - and white nationalist - was featured in a Vice documentary about the clashes in Charlottesville that aired on HBO and went viral online. In the footage, he expresses his hatred for black people and Jews.

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The Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College is planning a series of performances that use theater to get at issues around drug and alcohol addiction. Redfern has received $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, which will be used - in part - toward the effort.

Keene State College

The president of Keene State College is stepping down after four years in that role.

Anne Huot said her departure was for "personal and professional reasons." She will spend the next year on unpaid leave before returning to a faculty position in biology at the college.

Huot saw Keene State through a number of challenges including the pumpkin festival riots in 2014 and a unionization vote by college employees last year.

She will officially leave her position July 31st.

There’s been a public dispute going on in Keene over the rights of student journalists.

This is all playing out at Keene State College, where editors at the student-run newspaper say administrators have been limiting access to faculty and staff for interviews.

About 1,000 New Hampshire students who apply to Keene State College and Plymouth State University are not offered admission — and now, those two institutions are offering them alternative pathways through future enrollment.

The Public Promise initiative provides paths including associate degree programs, Dual Admission options and targeted coursework. Once completed, the options would allow students to transfer into the institution of their choice.

Public Promise will start in May with outreach to applicants wanting to attend college in fall 2017.

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

Among the dozens of agencies and groups watching the state budget process this spring are the two organizations representing public higher education in New Hampshire: the University System, and the Community College System. In recent years, the two have fared differently when it comes to state support.

Marc Pilaro

It’s tough to find a venue in New Hampshire to view modern dance.  While “Nutcrackers” abound at the holidays and international dance troupes turn up at the big theatres, modern dance is a far more elusive creature.

Keene State College is joining a national trend of getting the public involved in crowd-sourcing the transcription of historical documents.

The college is working the with the state Division of Archives and Records Management to host citizen archivist training workshops where participants learn the ins and outs of reading and correctly transcribing letters, diaries and other historical records. The goal is to create a core group of volunteers who can help town historical societies and other organizations make documents more widely available to the public.

Keene State College

Students at Keene State University are using a flat aquatic worm to study some rare human diseases. And the research began because of something unexpected that occurred in the course of some very basic research.

David Brooks is a reporter for the Concord Monitor and writer at Granitegeek.org. He joined NHPR’s Peter Biello to discuss the story behind this flatworm research.

 

Keene State College is getting national recognition for its efforts to reduce food waste.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently honored 14 organizations in a variety of categories. Keene State won an award for the best educational and outreach campaign.

The campaign involves performing regular food audits, brining experts on the topic to campus and having a "spokesvegetable," the Carrot, which is displayed across campus with facts about preventing food waste.

  Governor Maggie Hassan is offering congratulations to new graduates of Keene State College – and encouraging them to stay in the state after college.  

Keene State held commencement ceremonies Saturday on the Fiske Quad. In her address, Hassan told the graduates they had a lot to offer the state where they’d studied – and the state had much to offer them.

Let It Shine, Inc.

The organizers of the Keene Pumpkin Fest have proposed a new public safety arrangement for next year’s event.

The organizers only want to be responsible for safety and security within the festival’s footprint.

In a Facebook post, Let It Shine, Inc. – the Pumpkin Festival’s non-profit organizer – said in 2015 it would like the city of Keene and Keene State College to take charge of controlling rowdy college students in neighborhoods near the event.

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