Newly appointed Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs William Seigh spent 19 years as a dance and theater professor at Keene State College. Now, he is busy choreographing his way around new and broader duties. According to Seigh, these duties include promoting the very best education for Keene State College students, as well as collaborating with various members on campus concerning academics.
“I’m responsible in many ways for the creation and implementation of our academic priorities on campus,” he said.
Seigh said dance helped him work as a team member, which was beneficial to his new occupation. “Making dance is problem-solving, and in this office I get to do it with many people across campus,” he said.
Seigh said he first got into dancing at age 18. “It’s sort of a non-traditional story, but I was always able to find work in dance; I worked as choreographer long before I was a dancer,” he explained. He said he found a passion in teaching while choreographing. “My favorite part of dance was always the classroom and the rehearsal more than the performance,” he said.
He said that he didn’t just teach dance and theater, but also had and still has leadership experience with dance. “My administrative work for the last 20 plus years has been with…the American College Dance Association (ACDA) and I’m currently serving as president for that association,” he said, explaining he’s in his second term of six years. “So I’m in my last little bit of that service,” he said. Seigh said that there are 59 members on the ACDA board, as well as between “five and six thousand participants.”
He said this experience gives him confidence as the new provost. “It’s a job where I get to meet and work with people from really every corner on the campus that has anything to do with academics,” he said.
Seigh said that although he’s set for a temporary position of two years as provost, he’s “committed to being here.” After these two years, he will be evaluated and further decisions will be made. Seigh said that while he’s provost, people shouldn’t feel intimidated by his title. “I find myself in this office a lot,” he said, “so I’m hoping that when I have lunch or dinner in the dining commons, or I’m walking through the student center, students or anyone on campus feels comfortable coming up to talk with me. “
Seigh said he feels excited to have the position, which he was nominated for by Professor of Education Dr. Pru Cuper.
Cuper said there were many reasons as to why she nominated Seigh. “I believe in William. I think he’s a very capable, collaborative and kindhearted human being,” she said.
When Cuper heard he was interested in the position, she reached out to him. “I asked him, ‘Why are you doing this?’ and I could see in his eyes, he really wanted it. He was very committed to it; he was very heartfelt,” she said.
Cuper said she got to know Seigh after they were both chosen as distinguished teachers at KSC. She said, “There’s sort of a support system there because you’re on the stage a little bit and there’s that pressure.” Cuper remembered how Seigh, who won the title prior to her, “reached out to her” to offer that support.
Cuper said she finds his diverse background in dance inspiring. She said that although this background isn’t typical of a provost, “it’s kind of wonderful that way.” She explained that he’s more creative than academic, which enables him to offer a different mindset. Cuper said, “He’s a whole different ballgame.”
KSC sophomore Sierra Shelburne said she finds Seigh’s background interesting. “I think it’s good he has that opportunity because he could give new ideas, and maybe help with preserving the arts and making them more noticeable,” she said. Shelburne said that she just changed her major from art to education, however, she said, “I love the arts.”
Shelburne said she finds that a lot of the firstyear students don’t seem to know much about the art programs offered at KSC. “They seem more into the general majors and sports,” she said.
Associate Professor of Biology Jason Pellettieri said that while he doesn’t know Seigh personally, he’s heard good things about him. “What I’ve heard is very positive and I know he was a former teacher of the year,” he said. Pellettieri said he knows Seigh is in a difficult position since he will be undertaking the financial issues associated with the school. Pellettieri said, “It’s really about how do you cut costs in a responsible way?” He said he’s hoping Seigh will help the school in this “particularly challenging time.”
KSC senior and dance major Makayla Ferrick explained it’s exciting yet sad for her to see William Seigh move on from dance. “I actually started crying when I found out,” she said. Ferrick explained that Seigh had been her advisor and always checked in with her. “It’s hard because he’s not even in the building anymore,” she said. However, Ferrick said that she finds Seigh is a good choice for the school.
She continued, “He’s very qualified and very involved on campus. I know that he’s very passionate with students.”
While William Seigh wasn’t everyone’s top choice for candidacy, those who felt that way declined comment.
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Corrections made 9/19/16 – Headline: corrected “KSC theater and dance instructor named interim provost” to “KSC theater and dance professor named Provost.” Paragraph 1: corrected “instructor” to “professor.”*