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Honorary Degree, 2008 Granite State Awards Presented at Keene State College's Commencement May 11

KEENE, N.H., 4/9/08 - President Helen Giles-Gee will award associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees to more than 900 graduates at Keene State College’s Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 11. The event begins at 1 p.m. on Fiske Quad.

Dayton Duncan, a documentary filmmaker from Walpole, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. The 2008 Granite State Award will be presented to Sullivan residents Jean and John Hoffman.

Dayton Duncan, well known throughout the Granite State for his diverse achievements as a writer and filmmaker, is being honored for his contributions to the cultural life of the state. He began his career as a writer, journalist, and columnist, and he found his way to statewide prominence as New Hampshire Governor Hugh Gallen’s chief of staff, Walter Mondale’s national press secretary in the 1984 presidential campaign, and Michael Dukakis’s press secretary in the 1988 presidential campaign.

Duncan is the author of nine books, most recently Out West: A Journey Through Lewis & Clark’s America, the story of his retracing the Lewis and Clark expedition and the basis for the script for the Florentine Films’ documentary Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, which was coproduced with filmmaker Ken Burns. The documentary has received numerous awards, including the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America.

This year the Granite State Award, presented annually by Keene State College and the University System of New Hampshire to honor outstanding achievements by community members, will be presented at the Commencement Ceremony to Jean and John Hoffman. Through their extensive involvement of service and philanthropy to the Monadnock region, the Hoffmans have provided vision, leadership, and generosity to the citizens of New Hampshire.

The Hoffmans purchased a farm in Sullivan during the 1980s and, upon retirement, moved permanently to New Hampshire in 1992. Prior to retirement, Mr. Hoffman was a lawyer for the firm of Sherman & Sterling, New York, specializing in international dispute resolution. One of his greatest career successes was his role in negotiating with Iran the release of the 66 American hostages who were held by militants for 444 days in 1979.

After moving to Sullivan, the Hoffmans quickly became involved as civic and community volunteers - Mrs. Hoffman served as a town selectman and Mr. Hoffman as a member of the planning board. Mr. Hoffman is trustee of the Hoffman Family Foundation, which supports the arts, education, environment, health organizations, higher education, and human services. He is founding board chair of Giving Monadnock, and retired chair of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Monadnock Region Board. Additionally, he is a trustee of New Hampshire Public Radio and has been a contributing author and panelist.

Mrs. Hoffman serves on the boards of MoCoArts and Monadnock Family Services. She was cofounder of Alice’s Circle, a women’s charitable group named in honor of Alice Batchelder, the first Monadnock Family Services benefactor.

The Commencement Ceremony is the culmination of graduation activities at Keene State. On Saturday, May 10, the Spring Honors Convocation will be held at 4 p.m. in the Main Theatre of the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond. The Convocation recognizes excellence in student scholarship and leadership, the recipients of undergraduate Academic Honors, the Leo F. Redfern Outstanding Citizen, and discipline and endowment awards in American studies, biology, chemistry, communication, economics, education, English, geology, history, Holocaust studies, modern language, mathematics, performing arts, management, safety studies, psychology, sociology/anthropology, and women’s studies.

All events are free and open to the public. The ceremony will also be broadcast on closed-circuit television in the Mabel Brown Room in the Student Center and in Morrison Hall on the quad. For information on Commencement activities, call Pauline Dionne at 603-358-2106 or e-mail or visit

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435