Skip Navigation

Cohen Center For Holocaust and Genocide Studies Marks 40th Anniversary

Above, from left, President Melinda Treadwell, Dr. Kate DeConinck, Suzanne Hampel, and Dr. James Beeby
Above, from left, President Melinda Treadwell, Dr. Kate DeConinck, Suzanne Hampel, and Dr. James Beeby

During the 2023-2024 academic year, the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Cohen Center) at Keene State College is marking a major milestone: its 40th anniversary. In 1983, the Holocaust Resource Center began as a collection of books and resources brought together by founder Dr. Charles Hildebrandt, who coined the mission “to remember…and to teach.” It was one of the first Holocaust resource centers to be established in the United States.

The Cohen Center has greatly evolved since that time, expanding both its offerings and mission. In 2001, it was renamed the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies after a transformative gift from Rick and Jan Cohen to honor Rick’s parents, Lester and Norma. The Cohen Center later expanded its name and mission to include genocide studies in 2009. The dedication of a new building in 2019 to house the Cohen Center as well as the Department of Holocaust and Genocide Studies (the academic program) further strengthened the relationship between the two. Today, the Cohen Center continues to counter ongoing realities of antisemitism, hatred, dehumanization, and violence.

The anniversary is being marked by three special events that feature speakers from across the globe. Two of those offerings took place during the fall semester: the 2023 Holocaust Memorial Lecture featuring Dara Horn and the 2023 Kristallnacht Lecture featuring Suzanne Hampel OAM. Horn is an award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction, and her October 3 lecture was entitled “In the Haunted Present: Jews in a Non-Jewish World.” Hampel is the Co-President of the Melbourne Holocaust Museum in Australia. Her November 14 lecture analyzed the Australian response to the Holocaust, including key turning points such as Kristallnacht.

Keene State Today, Winter 2024, Cohen Center 40th Anniversary, Dara Horn lecture
Author Dara Horn delivers the 2023 Holocaust Memorial Lecture in October

This spring, the Cohen Center will host Loung Ung, a survivor of the Cambodian genocide and human rights activist, for the third major event: the Genocide Awareness Lecture to be held on April 3. Ung is the author of First They Killed My Father, an autobiographical account of the genocide that was later made into a Netflix film produced by Angelina Jolie. The event will be available both in-person and via livestream, a format that the Cohen Center has offered all year long in order to make events accessible to wider audiences.

Reflecting on the Cohen Center’s work today, Dr. Kate DeConinck, KSC Director of Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. emphasizes the importance of partnerships. According to DeConinck, who became the Cohen Center’s director in 2022, “Democratic partnerships and collaboration are key in our work to educate people about the past and promote human dignity and civic leadership.” At this year’s Kristallnacht Remembrance event, for example, city officials spoke at or otherwise or participated in the program.

Looking ahead to the future, the Cohen Center is fundraising to support new initiatives such as internship opportunities for undergraduate students and graduate fellows, a study tour program to bring community members to domestic and international locations alongside experts for experiential learning, a new cohort model to empower local educators in designing Holocaust and genocide curriculum, and more.

To learn more visit or call 603-358-2371

Related Stories

Contact Keene State College

229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435