Kevin Butler

Equinox Staff


Keene State College continues to attract and retain students as the enrollment number reaches its highest point in school history.

KSC enrollment for the fall 2011 semester is at 5,864 students, and is the highest number in the school’s 102-year history.

According to Vice President for Finance and Planning Jay Kahn, enrollment and recruiting is something the college works on each year.

“The college takes a very measured approach to its enrollment planning,” Kahn said, “So the growth we’ve had here is very planned and consistent with the outcome the college was planning to achieve.”

KSC increased its first-year enrollment rate from a year ago, recruiting 1,262 students, compared to last year’s number, 1,205. Although Kahn pointed out the rising numbers can be found in another group of students.

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“The increase has led to the highest number at the graduate and continuing education programs,” Kahn said.

Kahn said KSC graduated its largest class this past May, and this year will graduate its second largest class.

“Replacing those large classes requires the college to be competitive in what otherwise is a shifting high school population,”  Kahn said, “That requires the college to be more competitive and attractive than ever.”

Kahn listed tenured track faculty, the new nursing program, and the addition of the Technology, Design, and Safety Center as some things KSC is doing to keep up with the rising level of competition.

“Those are important investments to help the college stability in undergraduate enrollment,” Kahn said.

Kahn mentioned how KSC maintains a 10-year master plan for its facilities, which was last approved by college trustees in 2004. He said there is a plan for a new Visual and Media Arts Center.

“The plan was broken into phases,” Kahn said, “The first phase was to change the old Dining Commons into the Media Arts Center, which was done a few years ago.”

Kahn said the second phase is to add a three-floor building at that site.

“The college is working with our trustees to move that project along as quickly as we can,” Kahn said.

As for funding, Kahn said, “It needs to have both a public and private funding component. Public, coming from the state of New Hampshire, and private funds as a result of fundraising by the college through partners and alumni.”

With the increasing number of students, overcrowding and lack of housing can become an issue, an issue that Kent Drake-Deese, director of Residential Life and Housing Services, is happy to put to bed.

“We have a viable and vibrant program here at KSC,” Drake-Deese said, “And in terms of housing, ultimately I don’t know that it’s going to change very much.”

Even with the change this year of first- and second-year students having to live on campus, Drake-Deese is confident there is adequate housing for everyone.

“I don’t think it will ever get to the point when our first- and second-year students will consume all 2,800 beds,” Drake-Deese said, “Or even all the beds besides the ones in the apartments.”

Although KSC’s student numbers continue to increase, the number of beds has decreased in the last few years.

Drake-Deese mentioned the losses of Carrol and Proctor Houses, the reduced number of people in Tisdale, and less beds in Bushnell.

“We didn’t feel like they were quality beds,” Drake-Deese said, who cited overcrowding as a common complaint from students.

He added, “The one and only exclusive reason is for increased student satisfaction.”

There is however, a new apartment-style building being constructed on Ralston Street, to which Kahn said, “Those apartments are based off of the success of the college’s other apartments.”

In this case, the Pondside 2 apartments located on campus.

In a press release by KSC, President Helen Giles-Gee acknowledged the college’s increases,  despite the poor state of the economy.

“Even in a difficult economy, Keene State’s reputation is attracting students from the New England region and around the country at record rates,” Giles-Gee said.

“This reputation is built on the college’s world-class curriculum, and opportunities to engage in our community and take action for civic responsibility.”

The President added, “I am proud that Keene State offers a high-quality public liberal arts education that is more accessible to students, and I am thrilled to welcome even more students to our programs.”


Kevin Butler can be contacted at


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