Plymouth, N.H. – Plymouth State University marked the beginning of a new academic year by welcoming new students and honoring the late Eugene Savage, an alumnus who devoted his life to higher education. After an opening processional featuring University faculty and a warm welcome by Lexi Casale, PSU student body president, PSU President Sara Jayne Steen encouraged the Class of 2016 to embrace the opportunity of higher education.
“Today marks your entry into a learning community that genuinely celebrates discovery, creativity, and the life of the mind,” said Steen. “PSU is a place that believes in people and their potential, and in ideas and engagement. That is what it means to be a learner, to engage with others in talking about ideas, honoring past ideas, and developing new ideas that may transform the world. All of us – faculty, staff, administrators, and your student colleagues – are part of this community, and we hope that you, too, find joy in it.”
President Steen then presented the Henry W. Blair Award for Distinguished Public Service to the family of Eugene Savage, an alumnus and state leader who passed away in May. Savage was a “champion of students” as a teacher and guidance counselor in schools in New Hampshire and Vermont, as dean of admissions at the University of New Hampshire, as vice chancellor for government relations for the University System, and as a member of the Board of Trustees. He was a founding member of the PSU President’s Council. Both Gene and his wife, Joan, graduated from Plymouth and have received numerous awards for their service to PSU and New Hampshire. In recognition of their lifelong commitment to Plymouth State, the university named the Eugene and Joan Savage Welcome Center in 2010. To celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 2007, family and friends established the Eugene and Joan Savage Education Award, a scholarship for a New Hampshire student who aspires to pursue a career in education. Gene and Joan Savage’s daughter Suzanne Yeatts thanked the University on behalf of the family.
“My Mom and sisters were talking earlier about how incredibly proud my Dad was of this school and about how his experiences here really, truly shaped his life,” said Yeatts. “If he were here he’d be telling all of you what an excellent choice you’d made in deciding to spend the next four years at Plymouth State University.… It’s a wonderful place. On behalf of my Dad and our entire family, thank you so much for this wonderful award.”
Convocation is the assembly of the University’s community and incoming students, and it marks the formal start of a new academic year. Also welcoming the incoming class were University System of New Hampshire Chancellor Ed MacKay, Plymouth Select Board Chair Valerie Scarborough, who welcomed students to the wider community created by the partnership between the Town of Plymouth and Plymouth State University, and keynote speaker professor Kathleen Arecchi, faculty marshal and recipient of PSU’s 2012 Distinguished Teaching Award.
Arecchi focused on what her life is like now, and on how, because of education, it is more than she once might have imagined it would be, creating a refrain of “Who knew?” Coordinator of the Voice Performance Studies program in the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance and a faculty members who combines a singing career with her life as an educator, she punctuated her presentation with song, concluding with a beautiful version of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Frost was a faculty member at Plymouth in 1911-12.
Plymouth State’s Class of 2016 is comprised of approximately 1000 talented students who were chosen from 5500 applicants. The class includes students from 19 states across the country and 9 foreign countries, including students from the People’s Republic of China, Jordan, New Zealand, and more. In her closing, President Steen urged the incoming class to focus on making the world better. “The Plymouth State motto, Ut Prosim (That I may serve), reminds us to serve, here, elsewhere, and throughout our lives,” Steen said. “Welcome, Class of 2016, to our community, now yours as well.”
For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or firstname.lastname@example.org