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Dr. Kate Deconinck

Dr. Kate Deconinck, Director of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Dr. Kate Deconinck, Director of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

New director of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

It has been a busy, event-filled start for Dr. Kate DeConinck, new director of the college’s Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

A trained anthropologist of religion with expertise in religion in the wake of mass tragedies, Kate stepped into the role in July, replacing Peter McBride, who left Keene State to return to his native Ireland.

*Since arriving, under Kate’s direction, the Center has hosted high-profile events open to the campus, the greater local community, and audiences beyond. Those events include:

The 2022 Holocaust Memorial Lecture, a well-attended virtual conversation with award-winning documentary filmmakers Ken Burns and Sarah Botstein, September 22. The discussion focused on the filmmakers’ latest documentary, a three-part film codirected with Lynn Novick titled “The U.S. and The Holocaust,” which premiered in September on PBS. The film explored America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises in history and how it tested the ideals of democracy. The lecture drew more than 800 attendees.

The annual Kristallnacht Remembrance at a full Colonial Theatre in downtown Keene, November 9. This year’s theme was “Building Resiliency Through Memory,” and the always-powerful community ceremony featured remarks from a Holocaust survivor, Kati Preston, and concluded with a candle recession and a departure in silent remembrance.

An interactive discussion titled “Reporting on War” with Peabody award-winning journalist Jason Beaubien, live from Ukraine, where the reporter was on assignment, November 14. The Boston Globe covered the virtual program. An NPR correspondent, Beaubien has filed stories from more than 60 countries across the globe. His reports often highlight inequities, injustices, and abuses of power, and he regularly writes about natural disasters, war, and human conflict.

“I believe Kate brings the necessary skills as a servant leader that will work well with all constituency groups on campus, throughout the community, and indeed across the region and the state to make the world a better place,” Dr. James Beeby, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, said.

Keene State is the lone institution in the country that offers an undergraduate degree in Holocaust and genocide studies.

The Cohen Center serves as a research and resource center for the teaching of the Holocaust and genocide through the College’s academic programs. The center also provides materials for educators at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels.

Kate said she is thrilled to join the college community in this meaningful role because she believes “this is a crucial time to be engaging campus and community members in dialogue about the motivations that drive hatred and genocide, the realities of antisemitism today, and the importance of civic responsibility.”

She said she believes in the power of democratic collaboration with wide-ranging stakeholders to create lasting change.

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