Keene State College

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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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 The president of Keene State College is participating in a White House summit exploring how to increase college completion, particularly for first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students. 

Anne Huot will join President Barack Obama and others Thursday at the White House College Opportunity Summit. The conference brings together colleges and universities, business leaders, nonprofit groups and others working to support more opportunities for students. 

Melanie Plenda for NHPR

For many Keene residents, the wounds are still fresh.

"This is an emotional issue," said Jessica White, who started the Facebook Page "Keene Pumpkin Festival Move it or Lose it" and moderated a forum Thursday night focused on the events of that weekend. "We were hurt. We were embarrassed. Embarrassed is a big one."

On Oct. 18 and 19, more than 2,000 college-aged adults overwhelmed police, started street fires, threw full liquor bottles at emergency officials tending to the injured, toppled light poles and tipped cars for more than eight hours.

Courtesy Kaitlyn Coogan / Keene Sentinel

Governor Maggie Hassan says a company may have staged the massive house parties that broke out into riots in Keene Saturday and early Sunday morning.

After meeting with officials from the city and Keene State College Sunday, Hassan explained the parties were broadcast on social media.

"As far as we can tell," Hassan says, "there are companies now that advertise parties around certain events often near college campuses, attract people there, and the people are encouraged to do things that are then videotaped and put on social media."

Keene State College president Anne Huot says her focus since starting in the position last summer has been on listening – hearing what’s been on the minds of students, faculty and staff, business and community leaders and public officials.

Anne Huot joins All Things Considered host Brady Carlson to talk about some of what she’s heard and what she hopes to bring to Keene State in the coming years.

Courtesy Keene State College/Library of Congress

We use the phrase “long lost” more often than is probably warranted, but this story certainly qualifies.

Several years ago a contractor was cleaning out a barn in Nelson that he’d been hired to demolish. He found a 35 millimeter film projector and seven reels of nitrate film. Among those was a short film that had not been seen in decades. The film, called “Their First Misunderstanding,” stars an 18 year old woman named Mary Pickford, who would become one of Hollywood’s first and biggest stars.

Keene State College is saying farewell to its president of eight years. Helen Giles Gee is leaving the school at the end of the month to become president of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.