The recipients of Keene State College’s honorary degree and Granite State Awards have been announced.
Thomas Porter will be receiving this year’s honorary degree and Eric Stumacher is receiving the Granite State Award.
KSC Chief of Staff and Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications Kathleen Williams, who also acted as chair of the committee charged with the commencement awards, said that there were six nominations for the Honorary Degree and five for the Granite State Award.
Aside from the recipient of the Granite State Award being from New Hampshire, Williams said the criteria for the awards is broad, but that specifically the committee tries to find nominees whose work has had an impact on society and that align with the college’s mission.
She said these men are examples of that.
“One of the things we look at is we look at the mission of the college and one aspect of that is to help our students [and] our community to find ways to become more [civically] engaged or engage citizenship. I think both of these gentlemen really exemplify that,” Williams said.
Porter was nominated by Mark Reynolds, a staff writer for the KSC marketing and communications department who said he has known Porter since the 70s.
“To me, I think he is the greatest man alive. I mean I’m not exaggerating, I really do,” Reynolds said.
Porter is a member and advocate of Mohawk Nation. He has worked for decades to help restore and preserve Indian culture in North America through lecturing, various organizations dedicated to traditional culture of Indian people and more. He touched on what he has been up to recently.
“I’m doing a lot of lecturing in different Indian communities… they call me to different parts of the country…to interpret what the tradition and the spirituality of their native people before it was interrupted by colonization… there’s only a few of us left in North America that could probably do that. So that’s why I’m always busy because they’re trying to resurrect, they’re trying to revitalize, trying to make sure that it doesn’t become extinct…” Porter said.
Reynolds commended his friend for his dedication to his beliefs and his goals for as long as he has known him. “What he was doing then, that’s what he’s always done. I’ve never seen him compromise his integrity or his goals. He’s stood up against adversity,” Reynolds said.
KSC Music Professor Jose Lezcano, who could not be reached for comment for this story, nominated Stumacher to receive the Granite State Award.
Stumacher founded the Sonad Project in 2007, which he said was created to help bridge the gaps between cultures through the arts and working with students and professionals from all around the world to achieve that goal.
“The real challenge in today’s world is how can we empathize with those who are different from ourselves and we feel blessed by the discovery that the arts, music and the other arts provide a wonderful format where people can collaborate across human differences and inspire each other to realize the common humanity in all of us,” Stumacher said.
Porter will also be giving the commencement address at graduation, where he said he will speak about the connectedness of all things and the responsibility individuals have for the safety of future generations.
Both men expressed their gratitude for their respective honors. Commencement will take place May 6 on the Fiske Quad .
Jacob Barrett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org