Standard 1: MIssions & Purposes
The Mission of Keene State College
It is the mission of Keene State College to provide and maintain an intellectual environment grounded in the liberal arts that fosters both the personal and professional growth of our students. In support of this mission the College promotes and sustains strong relationships among students, faculty, and staff that emphasize creative and critical thinking, scholarship and research, and a passion for learning. Through a mature commitment to learning and service, students will be able to integrate different forms of knowledge and will graduate with substantive knowledge in a chosen field of study. Through retaining and supporting a caring staff and a faculty of active scholars and effective teachers, the College prepares students for success in a complex, interdependent world.
As a campus community, we value:
To further these values, we accept the following responsibilities:
Keene State College focuses primarily on undergraduate education and serves the citizens of New Hampshire as a scholarly community of higher learning, offering associate's, bachelor's, and selected master's degrees, and opportunities for continuing education in credit and non-credit programs and courses. Founded in 1909 as Keene Normal School, the institution became Keene Teachers College in 1939 and was named Keene State College in 1963, when it became affiliated with the University System of New Hampshire. Keene State College offers a liberal arts education through programs in the arts, humanities, and sciences, as well as professional programs based in the liberal arts, designed to prepare students for specific careers.
Located in a small city in rural southwestern New Hampshire, KSC plays a major role in the region's economic vitality and in the cultural, educational and recreational life of the community. The attractiveness of our campus, the city of Keene and the Monadnock Region, coupled with the teaching emphasis of the faculty, creates a private liberal arts college atmosphere found at a select number of public liberal arts colleges in the nation. The College's Carnegie classification is comprehensive masters II.
The College's fall 1999 enrollment was 4,606 students. About 3,900 are matriculated undergraduates; 40% come from outside New Hampshire. Its fiscal year 2000 operating budget totals $60 million, of which the general operating budget comprises $37 million. Instructional and academic support expenses comprise 53% of the operating budget. Full-time faculty hold 184 full-time equivalent positions, while 186 adjunct faculty and staff in teaching positions total ninety faculty FTE, producing a student to faculty ratio of eighteen to one.
The process of updating the 1989 College mission statement began in 1998 when the president appointed a task force to review the existing statement, internal campus and system documents, model statements from other campuses, and values statements generated during campus planning activities. During fall 1998 and early 1999, the task force met with campus constituencies to discuss proposed changes in the mission statement. President Yarosewick accepted the mission and values statement on March 17, 1999. The College Senate endorsed the statement unanimously on September 29, and the Board of Trustees approved it in February 2000.
The NEASC Accreditation Task Force has reviewed the mission and values statement, and addressed the NEASC standards in relation to mission. They have found that our current mission and values statement accurately describes Keene State College as an institution that honors its charter and historical roots as an institution for the preparation of teachers, while demonstrating progress toward broader educational goals supported by the liberal arts.
This progress is evident in curricular goals implemented over the last decade. In response to a change in state teacher certification requirements, a new education curriculum was introduced in 1995, which requires that prospective teachers complete a second major in an arts and sciences discipline. While this change is a significant step in the evolution of the liberal arts at Keene State College, it challenges our ability to support burgeoning enrollments in some programs.
Enrollment management through both admissions and retention are closely linked to financial aid policies through financial and student information systems, planning efforts and operational practices. In addition, retention necessitates close monitoring of course availability and financial aid, areas that have received increasing attention based on consultants' recommendations.
As the College approaches the limit of enrollments possible with our current faculty, we have increased course availability through greater dependence on adjunct faculty. Adjunct faculty must be integrated more closely into the increasingly complex instructional models used by regular faculty, including the use of technology. The outcome of current unionization efforts by adjunct faculty and the degree of our success in their integration into the campus community may well define the quality of education at Keene State College over the next ten years.
Affordability and access are key elements of our mission as a public college. Yet the College is currently at or above capacity in terms of staffing, infrastructure, and facilities. Access for New Hampshire students may be limited by recent, rapid in-state tuition increases and continued dependence on out-of-state tuition dollars. The current schedule of capital projects sets a three- to ten-year timeframe for improvements, while trustee guidelines allow only minimal growth in staffing. Dealing with salary and other cost issues by increasing enrollments during this time of favorable demographics would be detrimental to our long-term success in meeting our mission.
The College is experiencing significant changes in faculty and academic programs. The replacement of retiring senior faculty during this past decade has brought new expertise and newly directed emphasis to academic programs in ways consistent with our mission. An increased emphasis on student experiential learning is strengthening partnerships and building bridges between our academic programs and the larger community. Maintaining our partnerships with public schools and increasing internships and cooperative education placements will extend the combination of theory and practice so much a part of teacher education to more students in arts and science programs. The move to Division III athletics, completed in 1998, has broadened student participation, academic achievement of athletes, and athletic success.
The focus on facilities planning has moved from structural and infrastructure improvements to academic facilities. Rhodes Hall, the first new academic facility since the Redfern Arts Center was built in 1979, opened in 1998. We have added new space and dramatically enhanced the appearance of the campus. Further improvements to instructional facilities and the campus infrastructure will require significant investments to ensure high rates of student retention in quality learning and living environments. We have already begun to use more environmentally sustainable practices that may also reduce operational costs in the face of rising energy prices.
We anticipate challenges in improving student services and laboratory and studio learning environments, and in modernizing and expanding computing and information technology. Computer technology improvement has been driven primarily by student and administrative needs and supported by a substantial planning process, while progress on department and technology labs has been slower due to their number and the lack of funds necessary to sustain them. Progress is now being made on the academic front.
"Speak Out!" and "Future Search" initiated a transition from the broad and ambitious planning efforts of "Vision 2000" (the College's strategic plan for 1990-95) toward integration of both large-scale and more localized planning efforts closely linked to regular decision-making and funding. Effective planning necessitates further improvements in data availability, budget information, and more "manager friendly" budget reporting.
While the College has goals for increasing diversity, it has achieved little success in hiring minority faculty and is hampered by relatively inflexible policies and procedures relating to the types of appointments we may offer. We have had some success in hiring minority staff. Our efforts to enroll minority students have been slightly more successful. Enrollments of international students have increased slightly, and increasing numbers of students participate in national and international placements and exchanges.
The Keene State College mission statement will be re-examined in a five- to ten-year cycle in the context of future institutional planning, as has been our history. Dr. Stephen Reno, incoming chancellor of the University System, has expressed interest in a common system-wide approach to planning for the individual campuses. Once the new parameters of institutional planning become clear, we will embark on the next stage of a new planning process.
We anticipate continued challenges in achieving the purposes outlined in the Keene State College mission statement. The influx of new faculty and increasing scholarly engagement of faculty and students promise greater intellectual vigor in our academic programs. The need to develop and implement a coherent and developmentally appropriate general education program will require considerable faculty effort and administrative leadership. A mainstay of the general education goals recently approved by the College Senate will be the "Cultural Perspectives" component, which will enable us to address issues of diversity through the curriculum.
We will continue to employ adjunct faculty for their special skills, and because we must ensure course availability to retain students and facilitate timely completion of their degrees. Once the litigation concerning their attempt to unionize has been resolved, we will continue our efforts to improve their working conditions and integrate them more fully into the life of the College.
We project that Keene State College will continue its trajectory of slow and steady improvement in the quality of its programs, faculty, facilities, and graduates despite a climate of slender budgets. We will continue striving to create a more responsive budget process and stable enrollments through improvements in admissions, retention, and financial support of students. Careful program review and assessment of outcomes will be fundamental in determining the effectiveness of educational and administrative efforts to support our mission. We will continue to restructure academic programs and administrative services selectively to achieve greater efficiency and cost control. We must accomplish this in a climate of limited and uncertain state support, and success will depend on readily available data and analysis. Integration of computer and information technology into campus operations and instruction will be challenged by limited budgets both for equipment and support, as well as increased non-computer equipment needs.
Renovation and expansion of academic facilities, especially the Science Center, will be necessary to meet the growing expectations of our public, even at current enrollment levels. We must work with the state to increase its capital appropriations to the University System to address this pressing need, as well as the need for additional housing and recreational facilities.