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Fall Honorees - Winter 2003

Fall Honorees

Monetta SheaParent of the Year – Monetta Shea
The winner of the 2002 Le Vine Mellion Parent Award, announced during the Fall Honors Convocation, was Monetta Shea of Chichester, N.H.

"I'll never be able to truly thank her for making my life so full and joyous, so rich and exciting," wrote her daughter, Emily, who first enrolled in Keene State last fall.

"Parents are supposed to be caring, sensitive, helpful, understanding, and supportive, right?" wrote Emily. "Aren't they always supposed to be there, always give you a second chance, never doubt your abilities, and always be sure you'll come through on top – regardless of what you may or may not have done?

"My mother has done all this and so much more," attested Emily.

Monetta Shea, a single mother raising two children, faced considerable money troubles, and yet, as youngsters, Emily and her sister "had everything we needed, and wanted – my mother is completely selfless and always put our needs first and foremost. She still does. She's given up so much, especially financially, to help me get here to Keene and make my dream of becoming a teacher come true."

2002 Community Service Award – Dr. Tom Duston
During Fall Honors Convocation in October, Dr. Tom Duston was presented with Keene State's first Community Service Award, created to acknowledge a KSC staff or faculty member's community service and that individual's role in enhancing the quality of life within his or her home community. Dr. Duston was honored for his "extraordinary commitment to the natural environment of southwest New Hampshire."

Tom DustonDr. Duston has served for years in a central role for conserving and maintaining great swaths of the natural landscape – in part for the passage of large animals between habitats, in part to provide unspoiled routes for humans through New England. It was Dr. Duston's vision 12 years ago to establish a greenway between the Connecticut River and Mount Monadnock and to develop a hiking trail within the greenway to connect the two landmarks. Today that project is moving steadily toward a pathway known as the Wantastiquet-Monadnock Trail.

Those nominating Dr. Duston for the award spoke of the patience, tact, careful negotiation, and persuasiveness he brings to fulfilling his vision. He has sought and received numerous grants for his projects, established cooperative relationships among environmental groups, and organized countless volunteers. His initiatives have included not only the series of trails that will eventually traverse the proposed greenway, but also many other environmental concerns close to home, including land-use planning and recycling. Since 1995 he has been a member of the Town of Chesterfield Conservation Commission, for which he now serves as chair.

Dr. Duston earned his B.S. degree in engineering physics from the University of Maine-Orono, an M.A. in economics from the State University of New York-Binghamton, and his Ph.D. in economics from Brown University. He came to Keene State in 1983, having taught on the faculties of Plymouth State College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

2002 Distinguished Teacher – Dr. Ockle Johnson
Dr. Ockle Johnson, professor of mathematics, received the Distinguished Teacher Award from the KSC Alumni Association at the Fall Honors Convocation in October.

Ockle JohnsonSince Dr. Johnson's arrival at Keene State in 1992, letters arrived to nominate him for the Distinguished Teacher Award. "The quality of his mathematics thinking," wrote a colleague, "is such that he can deal well with topics in which he has no formal training." At the same time, nominators wrote, he brings to a public liberal arts college the determination that mathematics is a field to be explored – and even enjoyed – by all students, not just those who have chosen it as a major. He has taught more than half the department's courses for math majors – but also half of those considered "elementary service courses." According to one student, Dr. Johnson "explains some of the most complex ideas of mathematics in a way that a non-math person would understand."

While Dr. Johnson is well known for making mathematics accessible, his own accessibility is legendary. Again and again, in letters supporting his nomination, students spoke of his willingness to meet with them outside the classroom and his posted office hours. "Always available" is a repeated phrase. A gentle man in a sometimes fearsome discipline, he attracts students because of his "extremely kind heart," his "respectful" demeanor toward them, and, as one wrote, his reputation as the College's "most giving professor."

Dr. Johnson came to Keene State from St. Olaf College, where he served as a faculty member following his graduate work for the Ph.D. in mathematics at Brown University.

2002 Granite State Awards – Wendy Dwyer
Granite State Awards are presented each year at Fall Honors Convocation during Parent/Family Weekend by Keene State College and the University System of New Hampshire to honor outstanding achievements by community members.

Wendy DwyerWendy Dwyer, artistic director of the New Hampshire Dance Institute, was presented the Granite State Award for her 15 years with NHDI. Each year, she organizes a program that involves 250 children from eight area middle schools in dance and music. She writes original lyrics for shows, choreographs dances, and oversees set and costume design. Each year's work ends with an original musical theatre production staged in the late spring at the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond.

Ms. Dwyer, who holds a degree in Russian literature from the University of Rochester and an M.F.A. in dance from Sarah Lawrence College, trained in both classical ballet and contemporary dance in London. In addition to conceiving, writing, and directing the NHDI shows, Ms. Dwyer teaches at The Well and South Meadow School and is an assistant professor of dance at Franklin Pierce College. She has been named to the board of the American College Dance Festival Association.

The recipient of the second Granite State award was the Friends of the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery. Since 1966, the Friends have worked to make the visual arts accessible and appreciated in the Monadnock region. One of the group's most successful programs is "Famous Artists Come to School" – the FACTS program, which brings volunteers to K-12 classrooms to discuss art and artists. For some children, this is the only opportunity they have to visit an art gallery or college campus. In 2001, 1,659 students, 289 adults, and 44 Keene State College students from education methods classes participated in the FACTS program. The Friends are also involved in organizing public lectures and exhibitions and purchasing artwork for the Thorne Gallery, located on the KSC campus.

Accepting the award was the group's president, Susan Landers Gilbert.