President Helen Giles-Gee leaves KSC for University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
Managing Executive Editor
In an exclusive Equinox interview, President Helen Giles-Gee announced that after seven years, she will leave Keene State College to become the president of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Her last day will be July 14.
As to why she left, Giles-Gee said, “It was the opportunity they presented me to take the institution to the national level in the area of health care and science. These are two of the areas that are the most pressing concerns of the nation. I could envision myself working with them to help achieve that goal,” she said. Giles-Gee said the college has a stellar reputation, and she has also taken courses at the institution, formerly known as the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. Giles-Gee will be the first female president in the college’s 191 year history.
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The recent budget cuts were not the reason for her departure, as she said, ”This college is financially sound and managed extraordinarily well.”
Giles-Gee said she also spoke with the Chancellor, Ed MacKay, and the Chair of the Board of University System of New Hampshire’s Board of Trustees, Ed Dupont, about the transition from her position, as well as the departing provost, Emile Netzhammer, to their replacements. Giles-Gee also emphasized a shared governance, meaning that student leaders, faculty, and staff input is very important. Giles-Gee said she expects they will work together in making important decisions. On March 30, the Chancellor will be coming to KSC to speak about the process of the coming transition.
MacKay, in an email, wrote, “I want to assure the Keene State community that the University System and Board are committed to building upon this solid foundation and momentum. We will be working to ensure that there is a seamless transition of leadership at the college and that the members of the community are engaged and informed throughout the process.”
In addition, MacKay wrote that his top priority is finding a successful replacement for Giles-Gee. MacKay wrote, “Adjusting to new leadership can be challenging. However, please know that President Giles-Gee and Provost Netzhammer are leaving only because their success here – as evidenced by the growing reputation for excellence of the College,” he wrote, “made them extremely attractive individuals to be pursued by other institutions wishing to emulate that success, and each was offered a unique and exceptional opportunity for professional and personal growth.”
The president said July 14 would give the college ample time to cross over and that she would be able to help with the transition. “I’ll be meeting with the vice president and councils to work through issues we still have to work through, for example, our new merit system.” She explained it is a pilot system required by the Board to obtain one-fourth of the salary increase for staff. “As of July 14, I’m still the president,” she said. “I’ll still be doing my job.”
As for her time here, Giles-Gee said it was going to be “bittersweet” to leave. “When I came here, I was asked to do certain things, one of which was to help the college achieve academic excellence. I believe this college has achieved it.” According to the president, there have been certain goals on the outset, that she had hoped to achieve, and through her involvement in the college, the college has achieved every single one. Some of these goals included better financial stability, an advancement division that raises money for endowment, a summer semester that has brought in more students than in the past, as well as working on professional development for staff and faculty, increased the amount of money for both. “We have the highest percent, I would say, of any institution, a staff with Bachelor’s degrees and more. It’s moved from below 50 percent to 60 percent. We have a very intellectual campus community,” she said. She also said she has worked with the city on numerous initiatives as well.
“The college’s reputation is outstanding. Enrollment was the highest ever this year,” she said. In addition she feels that she has helped the campus “retain its sense of a warm and supportive community. That is the essence of this campus.”
She also mentioned some of external achievements the college has received, such as the President’s Cup, in which KSC received the award for having student athletes with the highest overall GPA. According to the U.S. News and Report, KSC is one of the top colleges in the east, and has also been highly regarded in the Princeton Review.
In addition, Giles-Gee cited the Huffington Post, which reported KSC as one of a few institutions that was the most welcoming for “socially awkward” students.
“I think people are finally starting to get what this college offers,” she said.
On a more personal level, Giles-Gee said she has made many good friends at the college. “People are honest, direct, and bring so many great ideas to the table. The college has used those ideas and has moved forward with them. I’ve had such a good relationship working with everybody here. To leave will be hard,” she said.
As far as her replacement, Giles-Gee is very confident in the campus selection committee to find someone to successfully fill her shoes. She said she felt honored the selection committee chose her. “The selection committee grilled me,” she joked. “But I answered from my heart and from my head, and I knew if they brought me back, we could work together.” Giles-Gee is assured that the campus would still continue to be successful. “The campus has to trust itself, and whatever they recognized in me, that they will see it in another person. I trust they will do that.” While the college looks for permanent replacements, an interim president will be appointed in the meantime.
The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, where Giles-Gee will be headed, is the oldest pharmacological college in the nation. “It has a rich, rich history.” She noted that graduates of that institution have gone on to make vast improvements in the area science, including the foundations of Eli Lily, Ruhr, “some of the top pharmaceutical forms in the country,” according to Giles-Gee.
The president also added that the New Hampshire Board of Trustees and the Chancellor has always been extremely supportive of her and the college. “They gave us the ability to set our own tuition, to use reserves for the advancement division, the ability to hire a provost and a vice president for advancement.” The Board and Chancellor, according to Giles-Gee, have listened to new ideas, “And I thank them for that,” she said. “Without their assistance and support, the college could not have grown at the pace that it has.”
The president said she still couldn’t believe that she was leaving, and that seven years is a noteworthy length of time to be working as a college president. “It’s been a pleasure,” she said. “Thank you to the entire campus for being wonderful.”
Giles-Gee said that she believes she has done her best to help the college reach a pinnacle in its success.
“I leave smiling knowing that I helped the best way I could,” she said.
Vice President of Student Affairs, Andy Robinson, said he is still in shock that president Giles-Gee is leaving. “After an initial period of disappointment and grieving we will straighten our spines,” Robinson said. The college “has a lot of good things going” and Robinson said he hopes the streak continues. “Let’s keep going.”
Whitney Cyr can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Provost Emile Netzhammer to take reins at Washington State University Vancouver
Keene State College Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Emile Netzhammer has announced he will depart KSC to serve as chancellor of Washington State University Vancouver (WSUV).
Netzhammer will be ending his six-year stay at KSC on June 30, 2012.
During his time at KSC, Netzhammer guided and pushed the college to reach further successes academically.
While at KSC Netzhammer helped the college achieve its highest ever enrollment, 5,738 students, according to a statement forwarded to the KSC campus on behalf of Netzhammer’s departure.
While in office, Netzhammer helped develop seven new majors: architecture, political science, environmental studies, nursing, sustainable product design and innovation, Holocaust and genocide studies, and a master degree in occupational health and safety studies.
Under Provost Netzhammer, the college also became a leader in the American Democracy Project and undergraduate research boosted as a top priority.
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In addition to Netzhammer’s work at KSC, college faculty developed a new education program including quantitative literacy, writing, critical thinking, teamwork, and application of theory through practice, according to the statement.
Lastly, under Netzhammer’s advisory, KSC has partnered with SAU 29, River Valley Community College, and the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce to support the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM), which endorses educating prospective employees for the regions 70 manufactures.
In a statement released to faculty, Netzhammer said, “It has been an honor to serve as the chief academic officer and first provost at the college. I will miss this community, but I look forward to the challenges ahead.”
In that same statement, Netzhammer said WSUV is a young campus that has room for significant growth. Located in southwest Washington, just across the Columbia River from Portland sits WSUV, which opened its doors in 1989 and enrolled first-year students in 2006. According to the WSUV website, the college enrolls more than 3,000 students and offers 18 bachelor’s degree, nine master’s degrees, two doctorate degrees, and over 37 fields of study.
In the statement released to faculty, Netzhammer added WSUV is “developing as the high-tech campus” of the Washington State University system. “The institutional values are the ones we hold so dear at Keene State College. This is a natural fit,” Netzhammer said.
“In Mel Netzhammer, I believe the search committee has found an ideal person to continue and expand the campus’s mission,” President of Washington State University, Elson S. Floyd said in an announcement released to the WSUV campus.
The statement said there was a large pool of applicants for chancellor and Netzhammer was chosen because of his “dynamic leadership.”
WSUV Associate Clinical Professor of Education, Gay Shelby said, “The search committee was unanimous in its recommendation of Mel as the new chancellor.”
Keene State College will be losing Netzhammer in June as well as KSC President Helen Giles-Gee in July. In a statement released to faculty, USNH Chancellor Ed MacKay said himself along with the board chair and vice chair will be working to find “strong, effective leaders” to replace the president and the provost.
MacKay said, “Please know that President Giles-Gee and Provost Netzhammer are leaving only because their success here … made them extremely attractive individuals to be pursued by other institutions.”
In order to ensure a smooth transition when replacing the president and provost positions, and provide stability at KSC, Giles-Gee said, “We will employ a shared governance process.”
On behalf of Netzhammer’s departure, Giles-Gee said, “I have confidence in his abilities and know that he will do a stellar job in this new role.”
Chancellor MacKay as well as the board chair and vice chair will be visiting KSC on Friday, March 30 to address faculty, staff and students on what is next in store for KSC.
“We look forward to working with the entire community during this transition and know that we can count on you to be active and engaged as we prepare to take the next step in advancing the mission of Keene State College,” MacKay said.
Jordan Cuddemi can be contacted at email@example.com.