KST Cover

From the Editor's Desk

Going Green for Spring

Can you tell we were yearning for spring when we worked on this issue, back in the dark days of winter?

It was such an escape to transport ourselves to the KSC greenhouse atop the David F. Putnam Science Center, to hear botany professor Kristen Porter-Utley relate the memory of seeing her first passionflower vine when she was just a child, to talk to gardener Joe Britton about the 45,000 seedlings he is starting for our campus landscape.

As always, winter is transforming into spring, and we hope this issue of KST captures the spirit of transformation we are seeing on campus.

First and foremost, we are pleased to present an interview with Provost Mel Netzhammer, the engineer of the impressive Academic Plan created last year. The plan would not be nearly so impressive were it not for the huge – yes, transformative – curricular changes that preceded it.

The adoption of the Integrative Studies Program and the change to a curriculum built on four-credit classes could not have happened without an experienced and dedicated faculty willing and even eager to rethink old models. This degree of academic progress also required steadfast support from the College administration for the high-impact practices that we know lead to academic excellence.

(Those of you who read President Helen Giles-Gee's "A Time to Soar" in the winter issue of this magazine know that Keene State is blessed with a leader who appreciates the spirit of "striving," but will settle for nothing less than "achieving.")

Some transformations are small ones. At least, they start small.

Education professor Tom Bassarear's meditation classes are by definition quiet affairs, yet they can have a profound effect on individuals, as Amy Proctor testifies.

Some people transform their own lives through hard work and being able to recognize the moment of serendipity that leads to change. Professor Porter-Utley was a graduate student looking for a research topic when a professor asked what her favorite group of plants was, and she instantly replied, "Passionflowers!" The research she started then has informed her teaching and her scholarship ever since.

Or take Kevin Cahill '79, the alumnus on the cover, who stepped out of his high-profile job to become a painter, following the muse that had inspired him as a student here. He and his wife, Jill Colburn '80, paint and farm at their beautiful home, which is built from an old barn that Kevin took apart and then reconstructed on their land in Weare. As Kevin notes, "You have to create your own model, the model that works for you."

By the time this magazine arrives in your mailbox, the staff of the Advancement division will have moved into the beautiful new Alumni Center on Main Street; unpacked our computers, family photographs, and house plants; and set to work, transforming a quiet and empty building into one pulsing with ideas and life.

Michelle Fuller, director of advancement services, will have fired up the alumni database. Patty Farmer, director of alumni and parent relations, will have dived right into her ongoing plans for 2010 Reunion, June 4 to 6. Ken Goebel, director of development, will be celebrating your many generous gifts to the building and its new initiatives.

As for me, I'm hoping the move to the new building will transform me into someone who has a neat office – although as a friend recently pointed out, if I were destined to be a neatnik, it probably would have happened by now.

Please drop by to see us and get to know the new Alumni Center. You don't have to wait until Reunion, or even until the creative clutter returns to my desktop (that will take about three days, I figure).

If we lived in the South, we'd say, "Y'all come visit!" This being New England, we'll just note that we would be so pleased to see you.

Susan Peery,