Keene State College has approached its preparations for its ten-year accreditation review with confidence and optimism. The past decade has witnessed significant growth and change at Keene State College. Full-time undergraduate enrollment has increased from 3,200 to about 3,900 students. The full-time faculty has grown from 178 to 185. We continue to lead the state in the preparation of teachers, both elementary and secondary, and in special education. Graduate programs have been streamlined, retaining the M. Ed. as the only graduate degree we award. We have strengthened and expanded curriculum offerings in communication, environmental studies, technology, athletic training, health science, graphic design, film studies, and women's studies. We have acquired and integrated technology to provide computer access for faculty and students, including Internet connections in residence halls, offices, and classrooms. Technology has revolutionized the ways we provide administrative, library, and student services, as well as creating a presence for Keene State College on the World Wide Web. New physical facilities create an attractive and functional campus: two classroom and faculty office buildings, Parker Hall and Morrison Hall, have been updated and renovated. Mason Library is undergoing its second expansion within the decade. The Lloyd P. Young Student Center, with offices for student activities, meeting rooms, campus stores, and a food court opened in 1995. The former student center, now Rhodes Hall, has been remodeled and enlarged to accommodate computer laboratories, faculty offices, and classrooms. The new Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery was built with state-appropriated and donated funds. Two new residences, Holloway Hall and Pondside, increase our capacity to house students on campus. Appian Way, now closed to vehicular traffic, has become a broad pedestrian walkway, culminating at Main Street in a brick and granite archway. Alumni who return to campus praise these handsome and impressive transformations.
At the institutional level, the College has emerged from a period of turmoil at the beginning of the decade with stable leadership, stable enrollments, and a renewed sense of campus community. Stanley J. Yarosewick became the eighth president of Keene State College on August 1, 1994. With his inauguration, the College began regaining momentum after several difficult years that included: (1) a protracted faculty contract negotiation, during which faculty worked to rule and withdrew from committee and governance activities; (2) a Trustee mandated staff reduction redirecting 5% of continuing position personnel dollars into salary equity increases for continuing employees; and (3) a period of turnover in the top administration. In June 1994, the Board of Trustees and the faculty union settled a three-year contract (9/93 to 6/96) using a mutual gains negotiation process that has reframed the relationship between the faculty and the administration and the way in which problems are addressed on campus. Two additional contracts have been negotiated using mutual gains techniques. President Yarosewick moved quickly to fill key administrative vacancies, including the vice president for academic affairs, the director of athletics, the library director, and the director of advancement. In July 1995, Dr. Robert Golden became the Vice President for Academic Affairs; this key leadership position had been filled on an interim basis from 1986 to 1991 and 1992 to 1995.
With a full leadership team in place, President Yarosewick initiated a broad-based planning process designed to strengthen the campus community and identify priorities for which there was substantial campus-wide agreement. Using techniques of large-scale system change, the campus undertook two planning conferences: an open-space conference in the spring of 1996, followed by a more focused "Future Search" conference in January 1997. These events were designed to facilitate high levels of participation in planning activities, broad consensus about campus priorities, and shared responsibility for implementing identified strategies. The result was "Our Plan," a dynamic document that has guided campus decision-making for the past three years.
The University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees has reorganized and reenergized its committee structure to address fundamental problems in state funding for public higher education-both the level of funding as well as the state's ability to raise the revenue necessary to meet its educational needs. Modest state support for public higher education and the need to diversify funding sources is a major theme of this self-study and the single most important variable in Keene State College's environment. For many years, the University System relied on healthy out-of-state enrollments to balance its budgets, using out-of-state tuition to underwrite the costs of educating in-state students. This decade saw the erosion of this strategy, as high out-of-state tuition began to limit the attractiveness of New Hampshire public institutions to out-of-state applicants. USNH Trustees began to develop support in the legislature for tuition policies that over time would bring in-state tuition levels plus the state appropriation to a level representing the actual cost of educating in-state students. At the same time, however, the state faced a major lawsuit, known as the Claremont suit, that challenged its reliance on local property taxes to fund public K-12 education. Until New Hampshire resolves issues about the way it raises these funds, its commitment to supporting higher education remains tentative. Even as this self-study was being finalized, the University System of New Hampshire was responding to Governor Jeanne Shaheen's proposed rescission of 3% of the state's 2000-01 appropriation.
As a result of this uncertain environment, the College in particular and the University System in general have become adept at planning, reallocating resources to address critical needs, reducing administrative costs, and managing enrollment. Their success in managing in such a constrained and uncertain environment demonstrates their fundamental strengths.Major Findings of the Self-Study
Keene State College enters the twenty-first century with a strong sense of shared ownership for the mission, character, and direction of the institution. While resources are tight, they are well managed and the campus uses careful planning, strategic decision-making, and private fund-raising to improve and enhance programs, services, and resources. The College has made significant progress in implementing new technology, managing enrollment, improving services to students, and upgrading facilities. It has a strong faculty and staff and its faculty find it an attractive place to pursue a teaching career. The College is known for close relationships between faculty and students.
In addition to these strengths, the self-study identified several impediments to achieving our mission that will require close attention.
While it faces many challenges, Keene State's commitment to preparing future teachers, its identity as an undergraduate liberal arts institution, and its responsive organization all presage continued strength and effectiveness for the new decade.