The sense of community has been present these first few weeks of the new academic year, and Interim President Melinda Treadwell intends to keep it here at Keene State College.
Treadwell is bringing back something that KSC use to do on Fridays.
She is encouraging campus community members to wear KSC colors and apparel. Treadwell said the staff recognition council began talking about, “Lee denim day,” or, “casual Friday,” until one council member proposed a new idea.
“They said that we use to celebrate KSC Pride Day, so people, anyone on campus, can wear Keene State colors or Keene State apparel and I said, ‘That’s a great idea,’ to try help bring back some energy around the positivity of this community and I said, ‘Let’s do it again,’” Treadwell said.
She explained this is something she plans to try over the next six weeks to see how people react to it, and if it is something the campus enjoys, she plans to continue it throughout the year.
Treadwell said, “It’s a way to show our connection to this community.”
Treadwell said when she rejoined our community six short weeks ago, she noticed that the culture had been changed a bit since she was last here.
“The culture wasn’t as warm, the culture wasn’t as fun as it had been in the past. We weren’t celebrating who we were in the same way or who we always have been in our history. I wanted to do something fun. We’re going to try to do light things this year to help us remember that we are a serious institution of learning, but we are also a place of community,” Treadwell said.
She continued, “And community means laughter, community means caring about one another, community means having a shared experience, so that shared experience is the Keene State experience. So this is a way to visibly manifest my hope that we’ll start living as a community in kinship and colleagueship with each other again.”
Many of Admitted Student Days and tours for prospective students fall on Fridays. Having this school spirit on Fridays could make a difference while people are visiting.
“My hope is that they [visitors and prospective students] will see a community that is connected with one another [and shows] we care about each other and we care about this institution. We are connected with it in a way that we’re willing to say, ‘We are Keene State,’ and that is something I really hope that people will see and feel when they come here because if students are trying to decide where to go, a lot of times what makes the decision is, ‘is there a community I’m going to feel comfortable in?’” Treadwell said.
Assistant Director of Admissions Kevin Justice is on board with Treadwell’s idea. He said he loves this concept Treadwell is proposing.
“We have actually done it before. It was something we had years ago that we used to do. I think it really does bring a sense of camaraderie and togetherness and spirit [and] I think we need to improve the filling of spirit on this campus. Even if it starts with the little thing of wearing a Keene State shirt on Friday, that’s awesome,” Justice said.
Justice said when he visits other institutions and sees their community doing this that it has a presence and is very noticeable. As he works with prospective students often, he thinks this will truly make an impact on them.
He said, “I think it’ll make them [prospective students] feel like there’s a sense of spirit here. You know they have that saying, ‘fake it till you make it,’ and we’re trying to improve that aspect of Keene State as far as just getting more spirit. I think when they walk on campus and see that they’re going to have this feeling of, ‘Wow, these people really like this place.’ It’s not that it’s not true, we just really haven’t made it visible.”
Having Treadwell here at KSC is a good addition to the campus, according to Justice.
“I think everything about her [Treadwell] is Keene State. That’s what I love about the fact that she is where she is. I have known Melinda since I first got here and having her as the president has already brought people’s spirits up. I think that she lives and dies for Keene State. I mean she’s a grad from here, being a first-generation student, she was in the same situation as a lot of other students. I think that everything about her is Keene State, it’s awesome,” Justice said.
Transitions Case Manager Matthew Schmidt said having these spirit Fridays is positive for Keene State.
“I think the little things like that that bring positive energy and give people the opportunity to maybe express that spirit. Sometimes, those little things get taken for granted and so having it come from leadership and you hear, ‘We’re excited about this,’ it’s a really positive thing from around. Especially with there being a lot of challenges in higher ed right now and at Keene State, so that energy is encouraging,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said Treadwell’s presence on campus is very noticeable, especially during New Student Orientation.
“Her experience that she brings to the table with some of the different things, the goals the college has, her experiences and the way you can tell there’s a sense of confidence you get in her ability to apply those experiences here. Being an alum and an athlete here, she has this investment in Keene that also comes with a lot of trust,” Schmidt said.
Treadwell said she isn’t completely sure of a permanent name for these school spirit Friday’s.
“We’re currently calling it KSC Pride Day but I think it can easily get mixed up with the student organization. It use to be KSC Fridays. I would welcome help with picking a name for it that would be engaging and attractive to students. This is what it should be about, it’s us, it’s our staff, our faculty but it’s really about our students and potential students,” Treadwell said.
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