Interim President Jay Kahn captivates Keene community and government officials

Kaitlyn Coogan

News Editor


A lecture hall, a chalkboard, a pen, and paper are typically used to make up a college setting inside any academic building, but Keene State College has taken it a bit further with the Technology, Design, and Safety Center.

On Friday, Oct. 12,  the TDS Center welcomed over a hundred guests from around New Hampshire for the grand ribbon cutting ceremony. Among the crowd visiting the 53,000 square foot building where students, professors, alumni, the interim president, the provost, a state senator, a chairman and the mayor of Keene.

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The dedication ceremony started with a meet-and-greet as people passed through the doors of the building and into a nearly zero net energy atmosphere.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a zero net energy building is a building with no net energy consumption and no carbon emissions annually.

When the ceremony headed towards a close, Interim President Jay Kahn sent the crowd into cheers with a surprise. Kahn took the stage one last time. “I too have a special announcement,” he said. Kahn went on to say that it’s one of their strategic planning priorities to involve the college in sustainable projects and practices that educate the campus community about conserving resources and promoting innovation.

Kahn said, “Our vision for the TDS Center has always included a high performance energy efficient facility and a part of that plan included a solar photovoltaic array, something that absorbs solar heat and then transfers that heat to the power grid of the building. I am pleased to announce to you that as a result of our donor gifts the college has the ability to fulfill this commitment to sustainability.”

According to Kahn, the college will shortly begin to install a 125-kilowatt photovoltaic array aiming for completion before the end of 2012. It will be the third largest photovoltaic array in the state of New Hampshire.

“The photovoltaic array will cover nearly half of the center roof and on a bright and sunny day in the summer, it will deliver the electrical needs to operate the TDS Center,” he said.

Over the course of the year, the array will provide 15 percent of all the energy used by the TDS Center, according to Kahn.

At the beginning of the ceremony, after meeting the building, alumni, professors, and students headed to class. In three different classrooms, alumni from each department shared their life after college and how they succeed in the fields in which they graduated. The departments that make up the TDS Center are Safety Studies, Architecture, and Sustainable Product Design and Innovation.

During the Architecture presentation, nine alumni talked about what happened after graduation, from making their own business to climbing the ropes in another. Alumnus Nathan Mallard said,  “I started pretty small. I went to work with a small general contractor. I was getting nothing,” he said.  Mallard talked about how after working in a small company for a while, a larger company came around and picked him up out of the blue. “You can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty; they want to see that you’ve accomplished something,” Mallard said.

Alumna Rheannon Demond told the students how her first position was only entry level. “They almost didn’t give it to me because they said I was overqualified but I insisted. I told them that I wouldn’t be bored,” she said. “I would say don’t be afraid to take the entry level position. If you found a good company, and they’re not hiring for something you want to get a job at, just get your foot in the door.”

Alumnus Zach Smith said getting into graduate school, something he did, will not hurt. “It delayed the inevitable of dealing with the job scene and everything. I actually liked grad school. I think it was a valuable experience,” he said.

The presentation covered everything from where they started to where they ended up and how each class and each experience changed their lives for today. The alumni also talked about how, even though statistics say differently, there are jobs opening up everywhere in the architecture business, from construction to design. During the Safety Studies presentation, alumni covered how they got to where they are today and the struggles and triumphs along the way. The TDS Center holds the largest Safety Studies undergraduate program in the northern states graduating 80 students each year. In the TDS Center, there is a safety tower that covers two levels and allows the study of two hazardous situations: working at heights and working at high places. Rescue Randy is a mannequin where the students can learn what happens in these hazardous situations. Students learn how to “Rescue Randy.”

“Designated by the U.S. Department of Labor as New England’s only occupational health and safety training institute and also designated by the Department of Labor as New Hampshire’s OSHA consultant to small businesses through the work wise New Hampshire program,” Interim President Jay Kahn said.

The Sustainable Product Design and Innovation alumni talked to students about their positive lives in and outside of the classroom and where they are now when it came to finding a job. This program is supplying the labor force to over 110 manufacturing firms representing 5,000 jobs and 15 percent of all jobs in the Monadnock region. The program is growing in its influence in serving firms up the Connecticut River Valley in New Hampshire and Vermont, according to Kahn.

As the ribbon cutting ceremony drew closer, multiple people spoke on behalf of all the people involved in creating the TDS Center. First up to speak was Kahn who  went on to give some background of the original buildings, Butterfield and Adams Halls, which used to stand in the place of the TDS Center. The original entrance from Butterfield Hall actually still stands as a doorway from the Fiske parking lot and the Fiske quad into the TDS Center. Architecture at KSC is the only such program in New Hampshire and one of only two public undergraduate programs in New England, according to Kahn.  “This high performance and extraordinarily energy efficient building design clearly conveys to students and others the core values of technology, design, and safety programs: health, sustainability, environmental stewardship, and creativity,” Kahn said. After Kahn thanked the architects, engineers, constructors and others for helping build this center, he read a letter from former President Helen Giles-Gee. She thanked all that were involved in making the TDS Center happen. She also wrote that she wished she could be here to “celebrate this wonderful day.”

Richard Galway, chair of the University System of New Hampshire board of trustees, spoke next. Galway said, “In this current fiscal environment we scrape together funds to try to keep our campuses well maintained and provide cutting edge learning experiences for our students.” He went on to say, “You should be proud of the creative work that your administrative team as they brought forth the needs of an inspirational technological center creatively financed from campus resources, university system reserves, and gift revenues.” Galway also spoke of the positive impact this center will have, not only on the students, but on the university system, the Keene community, and the state of New Hampshire.  He observed it was easy to see how students will learn in these state of the art classrooms and laboratories and emerge as graduates skilled in architecture, sustainability, and safety and they will leave here to become the leaders in developing the state’s economy, according to Galway. U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen sent her wishes to the staff and supporters who made this event possible. She wrote this new facility at KSC will have the opportunity to build on its mission and improve student learning and shape the leaders of tomorrow.

Senator Molly Kelly, next to speak, said that the programs offered in the TDS Center will be the only ones of their kind. Kelly also said that it was not too long ago, the school and the state were struggling with the concept of not having a skilled workforce but now that the TDS Center has been created, this is no longer a problem. She also had a letter to read from Governor John Lynch who said that the student from this TDS Center programs will graduate with the applied experience needed for a career.

Larry McDonald, TDS faculty member, explained how two out of the three programs were born in this department. He also explained that the Sustainable Product Design and Innovation program was at KSC when it was still called Keene Normal School.  “If you are looking for Safety, you are looking at Keene State,” McDonald said. Other members that spoke included Plant Manager William Kelleher, former student Matt Norton, senior Alexandria Fournier, and senior Michael Helmer.

Fournier explained some of the conferences students working in the TDS Center attended. Fournier said, “This past summer, I along with three other students, returned to D.C. to place a bid to host one of these conferences I have been raving about. With this new building adding to our unique program and amazing city, we received the honor of to host the fall of 2013 Northeast AIS Conference and are expecting up to 300 students to come and explore the awesomeness of our area.”

After the ribbon cutting, tours of the center were given to all guests. “This project [the TDS Center] is the fulfillment of three goals: curriculum integration, sustainability with a zero net energy target that stretched our thinking, and wow factor,” Kahn said. “The highly visible evidence that technology, design, and safety programs walk the talk of preparing students to provide creative sustainable solutions to a complex twenty-first century workforce and workplace opportunities.”


Kaitlyn Coogan can be contacted at

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