With his final analysis paper turned in to his professors, the mayor sat at his photo-covered round table in his office and laughed about how one’s never too old to go back to school.
Keene Mayor P. Dale Pregent, now 74, will graduate from Keene State College this May with a degree in Political Science.
“This isn’t my first degree,” Pregent said. Pregent started his college career at KSC in 1957 with intentions of becoming a teacher. “I decided I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore, so I transferred and graduated in the spring of 1960 with a business degree from Northampton College.”
[singlepic id=303 w=320 h=240 float=right]
With encouragement from his friends, KSC President Helen Giles-Gee, and City Manager John MacLean, Pregent decided to return to KSC to complete a second degree. With the help of Pat Halloran in Academic and Career Advising, the mayor began to complete the remaining credits he needed to graduate.
Because of the “life-long learning” credit system, Pregent was able to receive credit for being a successful business person, being involved in politics and from his two years at KSC during the ‘50s.
Halloran said completing Pregent’s degree was a collaborative effort between Pregent, Professors John Welch and Chuck Weed as well as Barbara Ouellette and Barbara Bernsten. In order to complete his political science degree, the mayor enrolled in four courses this semester in which he did a series of papers for professors Welch and Weed.
Pregent took State and Local Politics, Campaigns and Elections, Public Policy, and Conflict and Management. Pregent worked closely with the professors to submit his work outside of the classroom, with exception of going to one of Weed’s classes, where he engaged in class discussion and with the other students.
Pregent said he wrote papers about increasing citizen participation and volunteerism, how the mayor can change the city charter, the possibility of the elimination of city primaries, and about electing a checklist supervisor per ward.
“Going to class was interesting. I enjoyed the discussion in class and the questions the students had for me.” Pregent said. “But the most enjoyable part is the interface of the students and seeing the difference in freshman, sophomore, and those who are about to graduate with political science degrees.”
As part of Pregent’s course work, he got together with 60 KSC students in March to write a letter to the New Hampshire Speaker of the House regarding their dissatisfaction with the out-of-state student voters bill. He also led many students to Concord to testify against the bill; with their testimony the bill was killed.
“Working with the mayor was a pleasure,” Halloran said. “I am always so impressed when someone who has been away from academia for quite a while decides to return to complete a degree. The environment and climate has changed considerably and requires a great deal of adaptation. The mayor did this capably.”
Since Pregent received his first degree, he worked for Sears and Roebuck for four years in Keene as a trainee to be a store manager. He also was heavily involved in the American antique business. Pregent had three antique businesses simultaneously where he bought and sold antiques. To this day, he’s still taking part in the world of antiques. “I have an American oak leaf table in my kitchen at home from 1690. It’s beautiful,” Pregent said.
In 2003 Pregent ran for city council. He served as a city counselor until he was elected as mayor in January 2008 and is currently in his second term as mayor.
He got involved with city government because he wasn’t ready to retire at the age of 65. “I didn’t know I was supposed to retire,” Pregent said. “I’m not the type to sit down and stay home.”
“I’m glad he decided to come back and finish. It’s very inspiring,” Giles-Gee said. “He’s been so supportive of the college; he comes out to a lot of events. I’m excited to see him graduate.”
“My sons are already planning a barbeque after graduation,” Pregent said.
Danielle Rivard can be contacted at email@example.com