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100 Great Things About Keene State College
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World War II Symposium

Held November 8 to 10, 2001, this public affairs symposium was an active partnership between the College and the city of Keene.

Local veterans described their experiences during the war, and the city staged a World War II parade.

In addition to hosting the many lectures and films, KSC created a USO canteen, complete with a reenactment of the Andrews Sisters singing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B," backed by a band with Don Baldini at the helm.

The event's success cemented the idea of a biennial symposium.

The First Playing for Peace Concert
Playing for Peace photo by Mark Corliss

For several years, collaboration between the KSC Music Department and the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music provided scholarships for two talented young musicians from war-torn areas of the world to escape the violence and study music at Keene State and Apple Hill each year.

Former KSC president Stanley Yarosewick remembered the first concert in 2002: "Sarah Cohen from Israel and Nouran Meho from Jordan were the first two students to participate in this program. Hearing them play music together gave you hope that people could overcome their differences and work together to produce something extraordinary."

Harriet Huntress
Harriet Huntress re-creation

Though she never lived in Huntress Hall, or even in Keene, Harriet Huntress, a dedicated and beloved employee at the state office of education, did lend her name to a stately residence hall here.

She also gave the campus its most enduring ghost story. Legend has it that her angry spirit continues to roam Huntress and show her displeasure over the fact that men, in the form of Navy cadets, were housed in the women's dorm during World War II.

Fall 2008 Keene State Today story.

Pumpkin Lobotomy
Pumpkin Lobotomy photo by Ann Card

The city of Keene started its Pumpkin Festival in 1991. In one of those curious cases of serendipity, KSC Student Government at that same time had begun hauling pumpkins to campus for students to carve, just for fun.

So it was a natural symbiosis for the campus to support the city's attempt to break the Guinness record for the most jack-o'-lanterns. And break the record they did, with 4,817 pumpkins in 1993.

The Pumpkin Festival has since grown, and so has Pumpkin Lobotomy, as students and staff take over the Quad on a Friday in October to carve more than 1,800 pumpkins, creating tons of fun (and piles of pumpkin guts).

The Inaugurations of Drs. Y and Giles-Gee
Inauguration photo by Chris Justice

The past two decades have seen the College expand physically and academically, creating the spaces and commitment to meet the educational needs of the new century. Much of the impetus for this forward movement centers on the presidencies of Dr. Stanley Yarosewick (inaugurated 1994) and Dr. Helen Giles-Gee (2005).

A calm, capable leader, Dr. Y united the campus and got people working toward a common goal. As Bert Poirier, associate director of admissions, remembered, "Dr. Y's presidency was a significant era at the College, due mostly to the type of person he is. He believed that people do not remember you for doing a good job (they expect you to do a good job), but they remember you for how you treat others."

President Giles-Gee continues the College's growth as a proud, respected liberal arts institution. Her strong sense of community and citizenship and her ideas for enhancing the performance and reputation of Keene State have impressed and motivated the College and the wider community.

As she explained, her desire is "to assure that Keene State College continues to provide the high quality of education its students require for today's realities and tomorrow's possibilities." Keene's growing reputation, quality academics, and beautiful campus attract qualified students, exceptional faculty and staff, and key community partners.

“A great thing is the President's open communication with campus – those individual meetings she had back when she first arrived (though she never got to the Z's), budget meetings this year, and regular e-mails.”
– Beth Zinn,
Upward Bound
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