After nearly a year-long search, Keene State College  announced the hiring of Dr. Kristene Kelly as the new athletic director.

Kelly will be joining KSC in June 2016 after holding several positions, including: Assistant Professor of Sport Management, Chair of the Department of Business, Accounting and Sport Management and formerly, the Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC.

Kelly has spent the last 15 years of her life studying and teaching collegiate sports.

“Admittedly, I read something about sport management every single day, looking for ways to make things better,” Kelly said.

The committee that was put together to hire a new athletic director was drawn to Kelly because of her energy, spunk and extensive athletic and academic background.

Interim Athletic Director and Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Keene State Kemal Atkins said, “It was a wide range of things that set her apart, but I think it’s the energy and enthusiasm and her ability to connect with the department and the teams, and I think that’s the one thing that is really important.”

Dr. Wanda Swiger, the Athletic Training Program Coordinator and Associate Professor said, “We tried to make sure we had a diverse group of people on campus. It was academic, as well as critical areas on campus where the athletic director would need to work together with those areas.”

The search committee was comprised of faculty in the athletic department, the Office of Disability Services, student athletes from the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and various other faculty.

“Dr. Wanda Swiger did a yeoman’s job of chairing the search committee. I was kept in the loop every step of the way. I enjoyed meeting all the different people, but most importantly my lunch with the student athletes. I think that sealed the deal for me,” Kelly said.

Student athletes understand the importance of having a full-time athletic director at KSC.

Allowing students to be part of the committee makes them feel they have a say in choosing  who will ultimately be responsible for helping them through their four years as a student-athlete at KSC.

“We met with various people in the athletic department to ensure we are enhancing the student-athlete experience,” Atkins said.

Riley Steele, a sophomore on KSC’S men’s soccer team and a member of SAAC said, “We brainstormed, as a committee, various questions regarding mostly our specific sports, and then we presented them as a committee as a whole regarding facilities, her personal opinion on stuff and all other things we thought were relevant, and to get an overall sense of how she would run the athletics department and what steps she would take.”    

The college is rallying around the excitement of the news of Dr. Kelly’s appointment.

“As a whole, everyone is really excited about Dr. Kelly coming on campus and, because there was such strong consensus and energy around the announcement, I think that people are really looking forward to working with her and seeing the good things that I think are going to come out of her leadership,”  Swiger said.

Dr. Kelly is looking to bring in some new proposals and reinvigorated enthusiasm to KSC’s campus.

Contributed Photo / KSC Sports Information

Contributed Photo / KSC Sports Information

“From the outside looking in [having not started yet], I hope to bring some renewed energy and fresh ideas to the department. In my interview, I gave some of my fundraising ideas such as an official athletic booster club, a 107 campaign, and a possible KSC 5K walk/run,” Kelly said.

Dr. Kelly has an impressive resume, with her two bachelor’s degrees, a Master’s degree, and a doctorate degree, but what stands out is her presence in the room.

“You can have a lot of things on paper, but once someone gets on campus and you have an opportunity to meet him or her in person, that’s where people start to separate themselves in the process,” Atkins said.

Kelly stumbled upon the job listing, and after researching more, it piqued her interest.

“When I came to the campus, I fell in love with the campus and the people,” Kelly said.

Kelly recently visited KSC’s campus after being hired, and even attended a couple of KSC sporting events.

“Ultimately, I want our students to have the best possible undergraduate experience so that when they graduate, they are proud to say they competed for and attended KSC. We want our student athletes to become engaged alumni giving of their time, talents and treasures,” Kelly said.

Mary Curtin can be contacted at

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