Last opportunities make final impression on search committee
Karina Barrriga Albring
Dr. David H. Perrin and Dr. Anne E. Huot, the top two recommended candidates to become the next Keene State College President, visited the college on Thursday, Feb. 28 and Monday, March 4, respectively. Five months after the presidential search committee began looking for former KSC president Helen Giles-Gee’s successor, the 13 members narrowed down their list of candidates to two.
According to University System of New Hampshire trustee and Chairman of the Presidential Search Committee George Epstein, “All the members of the committee feel very strong about recommending Dr. David H. Perrin and Dr. Anne E. Huot as the final candidates.” Perrin and Huot had two separate visits to the campus.
According to David Westover, representative of KSC Alumni in the Presidential Search Committee, during their visits the candidates had a tight agenda. He said the candidates attended meetings with faculty members and students from different groups and organizations.
David H. Perrin was the first to come to KSC. He spoke at Centennial Hall in the Alumni Center on Feb 28. During his speech, Perrin emphasized the importance of students having experiential learning, being out in the community and gaining knowledge through internship opportunities. “My philosophy is that it is crucial to work with community leaders to develop a mutual beneficial relationship for students and our faculty,” Perrin said. Perrin is currently the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He was raised in Springfield, Vt. He then settled down in the south. Perrin’s career as an administrator began in 1995 in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia where he served as program area director of Kinesiology. Vesta Hornbeck, former search committee member for Helen Giles-Gee, attended the speech. She said she was interested in learning about the candidate’s priorities for the college.
“I want to know what he [Perrin] thinks is important here to preserve and build on,” Hornbeck said. Hornbeck referred to the fact that Perrin was born in New England. “I heard he is from Vermont and this would be like coming home for him, which is very interesting.”
Along with Hornbeck’s statement, one question many might ask themselves is why Perrin wants to leave North Carolina to move to Keene, N.H. and fulfill this position? When asked what drew him to KSC, Perrin said, “Keene transforms the lives of young people.”
Perrin stated when he retires, it will be in a community with a college or university.
“A college contributes in so many ways to the vitality of a community,” he said.
On March 4, the second recommended candidate Dr. Anne Huot visited KSC. During her speech at the Alumni Center, she emphasized the importance of promoting community engagement.
“In whichever aspect of life you are successful at, you must come with the intention to give back to the community,” Huot said.
Dr. Huot is currently the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at State University of New York at Brockport.
Huot referred to the importance of building connections that allow students to have internships opportunities.
“Internships are crucial for students’ professional development. There should be a symbiotic relationships between employers and interns.” In order to answer a student’s question, Huot spoke about student’s advocacy. “Nationally, there has been a sense of loss related to the lack of student advocacy. In Brockport, we have several organizations that promote student advocacy. I welcome this as long as it comes with respect and civility,” Huot said.
Huot said if she became KSC’s next president, she would intent to get close to students and become involved in college life.
“Students have a place in every committee that the institution puts together to study an issue, that’s an important way to get students involved. From a personal perspective, I believe it is important to be present, whether it is at a basketball game, a performance or simply a lecture,” she concluded.
Huot expressed that for her first formal visit to KSC she got “the impression that Keene is an incredibly engaged community that thinks passionately about students’ success and has an eagerness to move forward.”
Some students attended the candidates’ speeches on campus. Meredith Trabilsy, junior at KSC, said, “Being a student at KSC, I feel that it’s very important to have a say on who is going to become the next president of our school. I am curious to see how he plans on incorporating more diversity into our campus.”
The presidential search officially began in October 2012.
The members of the search committee met several times to review backgrounds of potential candidates. Soon after, they determined a short list of selected candidates followed by confidential interviews.
According to Epstein, the process built a search team viewed as a representative of the campus through a series of elections held where campus officials, alumni, and students nominated and elected individuals to serve in the committee.
That committee then hired a recruiting firm that searches America for candidates for this position. The committee completed a national search, advertising the position in national journals and calling potential candidates from all over the country.
“The KSC presidency is an attractive position and we got a good pool of candidates and then met with the top eight or so favored candidates based on the paperwork we had on them,” Epstein said. David Westover said shortly after the two visits from the candidates, the search committee will meet to discuss evaluate and analyze input they have received from the faculty members, staff and students that were part of the agenda and could interact with the candidates. Epstein said they intend, “to reach a conclusion fairly quickly in terms of who the preferred candidate is.” He explained the recommendation will go to the board of trustees for approval. “The board of trustees can take weeks to come to a decision and then there will be able to make a public announcement,” Epstein said.
Katelyn Williams, senior and only student on the search committee, said, “The Board of Trustees will announce the new president of Keene State College hopefully by the end of March.”
Epstein agreed they intend to have a final decision between the last days of March and the first days of April.
Since both candidates are running for positions in different colleges across the United States, Westover noted the importance of completing the selection process as soon as possible. “If we know that we have competition, we want to come to a decision quickly so an offer can be made and we have better chance of recruiting our candidate,” Westover said.
Regarding the students’ involvement and participation in the search of the next KSC president, Epstein said when he process began in October 2012, he felt disappointed.
“Not only the turnout of students but the turnout of faculty indicated that we didn’t have a lot of people engaged in the search.”
However, Epstein noted now he feels comfortable with how student’s body representation has been managed.
“Katelyn Williams was elected as the students’ representative in the Committee and she has had meetings with a number of campus leaders and got feedback from them.”
Hornbeck referred to the difficulty of decision the search committee to make.
“Former President Helen Giles-Gee and Interim President Jay Kahn left big shoes to fill, which makes choosing the right candidate even harder. The integrity of Helen Giles-Gee along with her work ethic and demanding of high standards are things I would love to see continued,” Hornbeck said.
After a detailed evaluation and research process, the committee will recommend a candidate to Board of Trustees. If the trustees accept the recommendation, the elected candidate will have the final word either to accept or decline the position.
On July 1, 2013, several weeks after most students have left Keene for the summer break, silent sunny Appian way will change its master. Interim President Jay Kahn will step down after a year serving the community and a new name will stand in the office of Keene State College.
Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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