Student body says administrators’ announcements to leave Keene State College won’t rock the boat

Sam Norton

Student Life Editor


Announcements of President Giles-Gee and Provost Netzhammer leaving after the spring 2012 semester, along with the Dean of Arts and Humanities Nona Fienberg stepping down, has left the student body questioning where the college stands over the upcoming years.

After seven years here at Keene State College, President Giles-Gee will end her tenure here to become the next president of University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

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Several days before, Provost Emile Netzhammer announced that he would be leaving the college after six years on June 30, to accept an appointment as Chancellor of Washington State University Vancouver.

The announcements of these departures are ones that left the student body surprised, surprised that three administrative positions were leaving.

Katelyn Williams, student body vice president, said, “I was surprised but I was happy that she was going to be moving on. She (Giles-Gee) has been here for seven years, which is a long time for a president to stay at the same institution.”

However, many students are worried that the absence of the president and the provost will be one that has the ability to cause impact.

With the student body’s top two leaders leaving the school, many begged to question what would happen to Keene State College?

Will the college carry on?



But members of student government said that the student body has no reason to worry.

Tyler Rines, student assembly chair, said, “The fact that all three positions are going to be needed to be filled and are going at the same period of time, that might make it a little bit rockier than what it might be if it was just one position, but I think all in all we’ll be more than fine.”

In an informal survey conducted with 85 students, 52 percent said KSC would feel the affects of the top administrators leaving the college, whereas 48 percent voted either a one or two on a scale of five, one being least affected.

Despite these, numbers Rines said that KSC has a strong administration and a strong staff, making it impossible for the college to falter.

“I think we’ll be affected, but no more than any other college or university. It’s a common thing—changing leadership structures,” he said.

“I’m confident that the transition will be relatively smooth and it should be a good thing,” Rines said.

Provost Netzhammer’s improvements in technological advances on-campus in addition to establishing new majors and developing a new educational program have allowed the college to grow and prosper.

Rines said that this is why the college won’t simply coast during Netzhammer’s and Giles-Gee’s departures.

“I think that we have a strong community here and really involved people so I don’t think we will coast,” he said.

However, Student Body President, Colin Daly, said that if KSC does not work as hard as the college is, KSC could potentially coast.

“But we know where we have to work harder and we know there is a lot at stake and I think that is going to have everyone on-campus pushing themselves to get to the goal we need to,” Daly said.

But, 52 percent of those surveyed said they are concerned about the college’s potential to coast and not continue to grow and develop.

However, both Daly and Rines agree that the average student does not understand the roles of the President and the Provost in their entirety.

“I’m not sure if they completely understand what the roles of the president or the provost are specifically to do involving the students on-campus,” Rines said.

Despite the high percentage of those concerned, Daly said this is a time of reconstruction and transition and it is a time period that should be considered as a positive one.

“I know that it is somewhat of a nerve-racking time. I think it is a positive thing. I think President Giles-Gee is going onto something that is a better fit for her and I think Mel is going onto something that is a better fit for him,” he said.

Daly said this time of reconstruction is one that allows for students’ voices to be heard in regards to what they desire out of the next president and provost.

“I think they should take the time to voice their opinions on what they’re looking for—for a president of this college. What they think will be most beneficial for them, for the college as a whole, and for prospective students looking at the college,” Daly said.

For the next president and provost, Daly said he would like to see the president and provost be very involved with the student body population, whereas Rines said he wants a president and provost who possess a doctorate and have had experience teaching as a professor.

“I think that people who are too administrative can be problematic so the people that know what it’s like to be a college student, to teach college students, and to work with professors as an administrator too, so it’s not just one or the other,” Rines said.

For the 2012-2013 school year, an interim president will replace Giles-Gee, making sure that the transition between presidents and provosts will be a smooth one.

“What will happen is we won’t be left out in the cold. We’ll most likely get an interim provost, and interim president from the USNH system, who will either be a retired president or provost or a college administrator who knows what they will be doing and will serve for about a year while we look for a temporary replacement through a committee. That is what typically happens,” Rines said.

However, Student Body Vice President, Katelyn Williams, said it is not the students who will be primarily affected by this change in presidents, it is the administrators who will be primarily affected.

“It’s like a ladder—and not in a bad way, but the students are at the bottom,” Williams said.

Williams said that the students would not be able to see a difference in how the college is ran without its president and provost.

“I think the student body is aware of her leaving, but I don’t think it has had an affect or impact on them and I don’t foresee it having an impact,” she said.

President Giles-Gee and Provost Netzhammer have done a great job at upholding Keene State College’s values, which is an attribute Williams would like to see in the next president and provost.

“President Giles-Gee has done a great job at that and I think it would be nice to see someone continue on that way in that personal way—feeling like Keene State College is their home and making it their home.”


Sam Norton can be contacted at


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