Leo F. Redfern, 1923-2002
It was with shock and sadness that we heard Friday morning of Leo Redfern’s death. Dr. Redfern died Friday morning in an automobile accident on his way to attend Alumni Reunion Weekend at Keene State.
Dr. Redfern guided Keene State College through a period of great change. He assumed the leadership of Keene State in 1969. While he was president, the College grew enormously, not only in its campus, student body, and faculty, but also in its academic stature. During his tenure, student enrollment increased by 60 percent and the number of staff and faculty doubled.
It was his belief that “a great college needs a great arts program” and that a great arts program needed an arts center. Dr. Redfern persuaded a reluctant New Hampshire Legislature to fund the construction of an arts center to house academic arts programs and host performances for the campus. The Arts Center on Brickyard Pond, as it was known then, opened for classes in 1980 and had its first public performance in 1981, two years after Dr. Redfern’s retirement. In 1996, the Arts Center was renamed in Dr. Redfern’s honor.
Following his retirement, Dr. Redfern remained deeply involved on the board of the Keene Endowment Association, which provided scholarship and loan assistance to 95 KSC students last year. In addition to his dedicated work with the KEA, he established the Julia McHale Redfern Award, named for his mother and given annually to an outstanding student in the performing arts.
Leo Redfern was a man who gave. He gave himself to Keene State College. He provided leadership during a period of great change. He gave us a vision of Keene State as a great college with both education and liberal arts programs. He gave us friendship, laughter, encouragement and inspiration. Occasionally, he gave us a hard time - but never without the College’s best interests in mind.
I, and many others, will miss him greatly. On behalf of the Keene State community, I would like to express our condolences to Leo’s family, including his son, Chuck Redfern, of Keene, and his daughter, Laurie Redfern Smith, of Nelson.