The Holocaust and Genocide Studies (HGS) program saw another major change as the position of Endowed Chair of the department was eliminated, which consequently mandated that professor Elisa Von Joeden-Forgey would have to leave the college.
The Equinox reported in a May 8 article that at the close of the 2022-2023 academic year, longtime professor and former Endowed Chair of the HGS department James Waller would take a position at the University of Connecticut (UConn) as the inaugural Christopher J. Dodd Chair in Human Rights Practice. When Waller joined Keene State in 2010, he was shortly thereafter given the title of endowed chair of the department, according to a Nov. 2, 2010 press release. According to the release, the position was the first of its kind and was funded by the Cohen family.
Following Waller’s departure, Joeden-Forgey assumed the position of endowed chair. Joeden-Forgey joined the college in Sept. 2020 as a professor, having previously taught at Stockton University, a public university in Galloway, N.J.
In an email obtained by The Equinox on Sept. 15, sent to HGS majors by Provost and VP for Academic Affairs James Beeby, President Melinda Treadwell made “strategic changes” to the HGS department, which resulted in the elimination of the endowed chair position. “Instead, we have converted it to an endowed faculty position with less administrative responsibility in order to allow for expanded scholarship and student engagement,” the email stated. “As a result, Dr. Elisa Von Joeden-Forgey is leaving Keene State College.”
In a Sept. 15 LinkedIn post by Joeden-Forgey, she reflected on the decision made by the college. “…my position as endowed chair has been eliminated, which by regulation means that I too am out of a job, despite tenure,” she explained. The move comes amid what Joeden-Forgey described as a “vast restructuring of Keene State College.”
“As terrible as retrenchment is, it seems to be an unavoidable fact of life for some of us in higher education in the USA these days,” the post stated. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, retrenchment is “the policy of spending less money; a deliberate reduction of costs.”
Joeden-Forgey went on in the post to say that she would continue her work as Executive Director of the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention, a nonprofit that does work in genocide prevention, human security and peacebuilding, according to the organization’s website. “The best thing about Keene State was the students and that’s what pains me the most: Not to be able to see our new cohort of graduate students through to the end of their studies,” she stated. Joeden-Forgey had previously delivered a Graduate Convocation address on May 6, 2022, which focused on how the upcoming generation fits into history.
The HGS program at KSC is currently the only four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in the U.S., offering both a major and a minor to students. Additionally, the HGS department offers a Master of Arts program and a graduate-level certificate, according to the KSC website.
According to KSC’s staff directory, Joeden-Forgey’s departure leaves the department with four full-time professors – Dana Smith, Rianne Hartwell, Ashley Greene and Lisa DiGiovanni.
Director of Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Kate DeConinck, Senior Program Assistant Michele Kuiawa and Coordinator of Educational Outreach Tom White declined interview requests, referring The Equinox to Beeby.
Nathan Hope can be contacted at