After nearly 16 years of service at Keene State College, Director of Campus Safety Amanda Guthorn will be sending a final salute to the college and Keene community. Guthorn, who accepted a position at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will finish on Feb. 2 at KSC and will leave more than just memories to those who will miss her, but an impact too.
On June 1 of 2001, Guthorn began her career at KSC. Hired as the Director of Campus Safety from the start, Guthorn also worked as an adjunct professor, got involved with the outside community and helped to implement notable programs at the college, including self-defense for members of the KSC community. For Guthorn, it was initially because of the people that attracted her to KSC. “When I came for the interview, I was just really overwhelmed with the sense of community and how friendly everybody was,” she recalled. “It just seemed like a really good fit for me.”
Guthorn said she enjoys telling others about KSC, explaining it’s a place to foster relationships, especially with the students. For Guthorn, these interactions are essential to her job. “I get really excited when I talk about the students I’ve met here and their experiences. A lot of times people think, ‘oh in your job you only meet the bad students,’ and I’m like ‘well first of all, I have to believe, in order to do my job, that people are good and they just make bad choices sometimes,’” she said. Guthorn said she, herself, is not without fault, as she has made some bad choices in life as well.
Looking ahead, looking back
However, making the choice to leave KSC is not a bad one in her book. Guthorn explained her leave is both beneficial for her personally and professionally. She said she has family in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and this move will make her more “centralized.” “I have seven siblings, 17 nieces and nephews [and] two great nephews,” she said. Professionally, this will be a position of advancement for Guthorn, as she will work as the assistant vice president of public safety at La Salle University and work with a department of roughly 60 members. “This was an opportunity to step up in terms of position and responsibility. It’s a larger department [and] it’s going back to a city environment, which is where I started my career in Boston,” she said. “I’ll be the first person running the department who is a campus law enforcement person solely, that’s been my career.”
Guthorn said over her career at KSC, the best action she contributed to was moving the Campus Safety group from Grafton House to Keddy House. This move was made in 2012. “It was hideous and I fought to the point that people didn’t even want to hear the words ‘Grafton House’ come out of my mouth,” she said. Guthorn said she did it for her crew. “My staff are my second family and I feel like it’s my responsibility to fight for them,” she said.
Guthorn recalled a moment when they were tearing down Grafton house and upon receiving a phone call, she rushed over to sit in one the pieces of demolition machinery, excited at long last for the change she had fought so hard for. “I wasn’t missing that opportunity,” she said.
These who know her well
Assistant Director of Campus Safety Leonard Crossman said that that change alone spoke wonders of Guthorn. “A lot of departments struggle…whether it be a campus safety department [or] a police department. A lot of times, they get what’s left over and I know she worked really hard years ago to make sure that happened,” he said.
Crossman said he’s excited for Guthorn’s move, but will miss her. “I’ve learned a ton from her and she has this management style that really gets things done. She sets expectations, she sets deadlines and she continuously follows through and rarely things fall through the cracks,” he said. “It’s her attention to the detail that really benefited the department.”
Crossman came from city law enforcement, meaning interaction with students was rare. It was from Guthorn that he said he really understood the importance of connecting with students and a college community in general. ”Part of a student’s experience here is not only to get an education, but to also grow and develop as a person….so that’s why coming here and learning that from Amanda, who is just so student-oriented, was great. She always put the students first,” he said.
Crossman said he feels confident that the team will manage just fine after Guthorn leaves. “We have a really educated and knowledgeable staff here and we have taken the time and really on Amanda’s leadership, to cross-train each other on everything that happens. I don’t feel that by one person leaving, whether it be be Amanda or anybody else, that they would take things with them,” he said.
While Crossman has only known Guthorn in the roughly two and a half years he’s been at KSC, others such as Administrative Assistant of Theater and Dance Marcia Barrett have known Guthorn since she first arrived at Keene State. “I know her very well,” Barrett said. “She’s a good communicator, very straight-forward, has students’ interest at heart.” Barrett said she’s happy for Guthorn, saying her plans are “a great opportunity.”
Barrett said she especially likes Guthorn’s passionate action on offering self-defense classes for everyone on campus.
Barrett also alluded to her strength in maintaining relationships on and off campus. “There’s no way you can succeed at a college without having good relationships,” she said.
The importance of Campus Safety
KSC junior Blake Powell said that while he doesn’t personally know Guthorn, he feels safe on campus and finds her position an important one. “It’s good to make sure people don’t get hurt and to know they have the service campus safety provides,” he said. Powell said he’s never felt intimidated or neglected by Campus Safety.
Updates as to who will fill Guthorn’s position are unknown for the time being. Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Kemal Atkins is tasked with finding a replacement. He could not be reached for this article.
Guthorn said she’s going to miss much from Keene. “This has been a great place for me; it’s been a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “My hope is that Keene continues to succeed and really do well and continues to be a tremendous resource for the college and for the community.”
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org