When Colleges Thrive,
Our Communities Thrive
Helen Giles-Gee, President
In light of the challenges public higher education is facing in New Hampshire, I feel fortunate to lead a college that has received national honors for programs and contributions to our communities, and is dedicated to promoting civic engagement. Keene State College serves as an example of excellence that others are choosing to follow.
Colleges such as Keene State bring many benefits to our society and communities. Our students and faculty are collaborating with communities to solve problems, provide strategic thinking and policy development, promote civic engagement, support government, bring cultural experiences to people, and contribute mightily to economic growth and stability. These experiences prepare our students to join the thousands of successful Keene State alumni already making an important difference.
Our college collaborates with communities and state organizations for their mutual benefit. Examples include Keene State's Architecture Department, which developed the Communicorps Program to enable students to use their knowledge in the field. Students working with Southwestern Community Services designed a 20-unit housing facility for seniors in Winchester, New Hampshire. Geography and architecture students are conducting a health-needs assessment and analysis for the town of Troy, New Hampshire, in order to set the stage for future community health interventions.
Leaders at Keene State College share their expertise by serving on boards for organizations such as the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, the Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and many others. These are only a few of the organizations that have invited our staff to develop policy and strategic plans that will improve the lives of New Hampshire citizens.
I firmly believe that public higher education institutions should help students become responsible citizens. Keene State College has partnered with the American Democracy Project (ADP), a nonpartisan initiative begun in 2003 by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), to inspire and equip graduates to become active and involved in their communities. Our college has developed a variety of faculty, staff, and student initiatives aimed at engaging students to become active citizens and fostering a passion for civic engagement beyond their college years.
Keene State supports state agencies. Our faculty and sociology students increase the resources available to agencies by assisting them in writing grant proposals and compiling data. Keene State also joined with Governor Lynch and the Department of Environmental Studies to retain the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) consultancy center in New Hampshire. Keene State College currently operates one of the top five (out of 24) OSHA centers in the United States – with 18 sites throughout New England – keeping workers healthier and safer every day.
Public colleges and universities contribute to economic development. Keene State employs over 900 people and serves as an economic stabilizer for the Monadnock Region. We help to develop educated citizens who possess the critical thinking and communication skills, quantitative and information literacy, and teamwork that are desired by today's employers around the world. Our faculty develops programs that respond to the expressed needs of employers, such as undergraduate and graduate programs in Safety Studies and Occupational Health, Environmental Studies, Architecture, Sustainable Design and Innovation, and nursing. The Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) partnership among Keene State, River Valley Community College, SAU 29, and the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce is building a workforce that will help sustain the economy of the Monadnock Region and New Hampshire.
And public colleges are trying to do more. Our faculty and students are comparing the health effects of burning biodiesel versus diesel, and testing the quality of biodiesel developed from waste grease. Collaborating with Dartmouth College, we are developing the next generation of leaders in research from our students who are receiving grants and preparing to enter graduate programs.
As president of this amazing public college in New Hampshire, I can attest that we are doing our best to serve the citizens of this state and beyond. We believe that a public college should provide its students with complete access to a high-quality education. And the benefits from this high-quality education will be felt by students and our surrounding communities and state for many years to come.