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From the KSC Arboretum
What does it take to landscape a new building?

From the KSC Arboretum
by Jeff Garland
Keene State College arborist

Wait a Year and See

Eastern redbud photo by Chris Justice

If it's our Keene State Alumni Center, here's the answer: Three thousand vinca plants, 66 mountain laurel, 15 inkberry bushes, 10 green ash trees, six Japanese tree lilacs, six 'Coral Burst' crabapples, six 'Kousa' dogwoods, five red oaks, four Eastern redbuds, three Fraser firs, three witch hazels, two white ash, and two sugar maples. Plus a lovely Stewartia for the entry and many assorted dogwoods and grasses. (So far.)

'Kousa' dogwood photo by Michael Matros

The landscaping plan began before the site was cleared. Dirtworks PC of New York City, the landscape architecture firm that designed the award-winning courtyard for the David F. Putnam Science Center, was hired for the Alumni Center project. Dirtworks' designer Erin Upton made frequent trips to Keene to study the site and consult with staff, alumni, and citizens of Keene about their vision for this corner of campus. The plants we chose for the building - the 'Kousa' dogwood, witch hazel, and the Japanese tree lilacs, for example - echo similar plantings on campus and in downtown Keene.

Staff moved into the Alumni Center in March 2010, construction debris outside was cleaned up, and only a few weeks later, KSC gardener Joe Britton, Erin Upton, and I found ourselves tramping the muddy fields of Salmon Falls Nursery in Maine, where plants we had ordered from all over the Northeast were being assembled. We approved each specimen and got to choose plants from Salmon Falls' own vast collection. This is really the fun part - looking at beautiful plants with people who share your passion for them - and we were not at all deterred by heavy rain. We walked all over three fields of firs to find the perfect third Fraser fir, which you can see on the north side of the building.

Japanese tree lilac photo by Chris Justice

Then came the sunny day when three box trucks filled with plants pulled into the Alumni Center parking lot, and the installation began. We consulted the paper plans. We modified, we shifted, we considered, and we dug a lot of holes. We stood inside Centennial Hall and looked out at the roundabout to find the best spot for the trees. Everyone on the grounds crew, plus landscapers from Salmon Falls Nursery, worked on getting every last plant into the ground, watered, and mulched.

Will we make any changes? "Wait a year and see" is the gardener's maxim, and that's what we intend to do. This spring, Barbara Ryans Brackett and her husband, Bill, both class of 1957, generously donated a perennial garden for the courtyard, and Joe Britton installed it in time for Reunion. Thankfully, the cycle of plants never stops.

Jay Punt '82 and son, Victor Punt '11 photo

Jay Punt '82 and his son, Victor Punt '11, stand together in the Science Center at Commencement on May 7, 2011, 29 years to the day of Jay's graduation.

Happy Birthday, Alumni Center!

Keene State's new Alumni Center opened on June 4, 2010, with great fanfare and celebration, just as Reunion weekend began. Its first year of life was a busy one. Centennial Hall was used extensively by our students and the greater College community. More than 7,000 people participated in 92 different programs sponsored by student, campus, alumni, and community groups. Here is a small sampling of the diversity of programming and participation:

  • Orientation for New Students
  • Monadnock Center for Successful Transitions (job training)
  • College and Career Summit
  • KEA Investment Committee
  • American College Dance Festival Conference
  • Alumni Association Board Meetings
  • President's Council
  • Safety and Internship Fair (jobs and internships)
  • Community Partners Celebration
  • Monadnock Conservancy Board Meeting
  • Cohen Center Hildebrandt Awards
  • Communicorps Project Presentation
  • Keene Rotary Club Luncheon
  • KEA Annual Meeting
  • Golden Circle Luncheon
  • Pauline Dionne Retirement Reception
  • Reunion 2011 Welcome Back Social

Alumni continue to support the fund-raising goals for the building, particularly for alumni program funds. To date, nearly $600,000 has been raised. Alumni are still able to make gifts that include naming opportunities - we have several offices and reception spaces available, along with two benches near our entrances. To give to the Alumni Center Campaign, please call Ken Goebel, director of development, at 603-358-2378, or e-mail

Where in the World

Where in the World Was Wendell Pollock?

Wendell Pollock his sky-diving

It was a little too windy at 14,000 feet for Wendell Pollock to read his copy of Keene State Today, so no doubt he tucked it into his flight suit. Pollock celebrated his 85th birthday last spring by jumping from an airplane in Florida. He and his sky-diving instructor plummeted (intentionally) in a 5,000-foot free fall before the parachute opened. "Once the chute opened, we floated all around and came down to a pinpoint landing on the field," he reported.

The last time Pollock wore a parachute was during World War II, when he was a radio gunner on a Navy dive bomber. After enlisting at age 17, he served in the Pacific on the carrier Antietam. "I always wore a chute, but never had to use it," he said. His crew received word that the war had ended as they were flying over Shanghai, and he remembers seeing the Great Wall from the air.

Pollock, who graduated from New England College after the war, was a top business administrator at Keene State from 1970 to 1988, and has been on the Keene Endowment Association board for 41 years.

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