Founders Day 2010 Address
by President Michele Perkins
January 26, 2010
Students, faculty, and staff of New England College, trustees, alumni, friends, and honored guests, I welcome you to the 64th anniversary of the founding of New England College.
It is my particular honor to welcome Harriet Sanford, an alumna of the Class of 1974 and our keynote speaker. Harriet is accompanied today by her daughter, Averi Lassiter, and her partner, Dan Bolling. Thank you all for sharing this occasion with us.
I’d like to welcome our students and faculty back to campus for the spring semester. I hope your winter break gave you an opportunity to pursue both personal and educational goals.
Last year at this time, the state of New Hampshire was recovering from a destructive ice storm. The year before, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain had just won the New Hampshire Primary. And this year, even as our thoughts and prayers go to the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we are still keeping a watchful eye on a shaky global economy.
With the incredible pace of change to which we have become accustomed, and the ongoing series of major events in all of our lives, I began thinking about the role that leadership plays in each of these situations. For me, there is a common characteristic - the ability to remain focused on your vision despite what sometimes feels like overwhelming odds.
Last year, I addressed this community with these words, “If anything, this economy has given us reason to strengthen our resolve to act in a fiscally responsible manner and to approach this challenge with the creativity and innovation that are the hallmarks of this institution.”
Together, we did.
And it is my distinct pleasure to speak with you today on the results of that perseverance.
Last year, we rolled out five new master’s degree programs which have allowed NEC to move into new educational markets and have significantly increased our ability to offer educational programming that provides our graduates with the expertise to succeed in a new and challenging economy.
Not only did we meet, but we exceeded our enrollment goals for this spring semester. Interest in the fall semester continues to track above the historic highs of previous years. And, in order to assist the families of NEC students who struggle to fund their children’s education, we look forward to increasing our institutional scholarship and grant awards by nearly $1.5 million dollars over what we provided our students this year - for a total of nearly $12 million dollars in assistance.
We remain committed to investing in our campus infrastructure. Even some of the more subtle projects will have a tremendous impact on our operations. The campus-wide relighting initiative led by Gary Harper and our Campus Operations staff, has been projected to save the College up to $100,000 a year in energy costs. And our current flagship project, the artificial turf field, has the potential to drive both recruitment and retention efforts at the College while building a sense of pride for our student-athletes.
We are anxious to implement the innovative new Community College Honors Program that was developed over the last year. This program will allow an unprecedented number of New Hampshire students to complete their baccalaureate degrees in the prestigious honors program at New England College.
We also celebrate the ongoing accomplishments of our talented faculty.
Dr. William Preble continues his groundbreaking work on one of the most important topics in education today: school climate. This fall, Dr. Preble and Dr. Susan Redditt co-hosted a meeting of leading educators to review a new set of standards under development by the National School Climate Council.
NEC trustee, Dr. Katrina Swett, participated in the New Hampshire production of “Speak Truth to Power: Voices from Beyond the Dark,” by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Ariel Dorfman. Producer and director for this important work chronicling the lives of human rights defenders, was Dana Biscotti Myskowski, a lecturer at New England College.
We were also pleased to hear that Dr. Swett recently announced her candidacy for the Second Congressional District. We wish her well.
Maura MacNeil has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the Best of the Small Presses Series for her poem published in the most recent edition of the Henniker Review. This will be Maura’s fourth nomination for a prestigious Pushcart Prize.
Inez McDermott has just returned from leading another trip to Europe. She will curate an exhibition of works by Northern New England furniture makers that will be held at the Southern Vermont Art Center in May and June.
Tom McGrevey has been working with an international immigration law firm to provide management consulting services and business plan development to foreign nationals looking to develop business in the United States.
Dr. James Newcomb and students from the College presented a poster at the annual conference of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago. The poster examined Dr. Newcomb’s ongoing research on the effects of serotonin on locomotion in sea slugs.
We are most grateful for the work of Dennis and Cathy Kalob who have dedicated so much of their time to relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina. But Dennis and Cathy and colleagues from the New Orleans Program, the General Education Committee, and the KGA Collegium have started a new tradition in Henniker: the annual Gumbo Cook Off and Zydeco and Blues Throwdown. The music for this event was provided by New Orleans musicians and none other than “Zydeco Bill” Preble on drums. And the most original gumbo award went to Tom “Mad Dog” McGrevey! Congratulations all!
Dr. John Achorn has contributed a poem to an anthology published by Outskirts Press.
William Homestead, Robert Seaman, and Meredith Bird Miller all contributed to a special issue of the Ometeca journal on Educating for Ecological Sustainability that will be published next month.
Assistant Athletic Trainer, Greg Hess, has just had an article published in the February edition of Foot and Ankle Specialist.
Dr. Ali Reza Jalili is currently writing a chapter addressing the ethics of tax evasion for a book on Islamic Taxation.
And a heartwarming story that appeared in the media recently chronicled the work of NEC trustee and alumnus Lex Scourby. Lex has been a driving force behind the construction of a $4 million dollar 21,000 square foot building for the largest emergency and transitional shelter serving New Hampshire and southern Maine.
As we welcome the NEC community back for the spring semester, we also say good bye to nineteen of our students who are preparing to leave for the Dominican Republic with Dr. Susan Redditt and Dr. Carlton Fitzgerald. Following the events unfolding in Haiti, we hear that the Dominican Republic has opened its borders to thousands of hungry and displaced Haitians in a historic humanitarian gesture. Once again, our students find themselves at the center of world events. We are proud of their commitment to exercising this leadership, when and where it is needed most.