Sara Jayne Steen to Step Down as PSU President

August 21st, 2014 by Tim

PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University President Sara Jayne Steen announced today (August 21, 2014) that she will step down as president on 30 June 2015, after nine years as president.

PSU President Sara Jayne Steen

“It has been my honor to serve as president of Plymouth State University,” Steen said. “I am proud of this vibrant University that is transforming students’ lives and making a difference.”

Chair of the University System Board of Trustees Pamela Diamantis praised Steen’s leadership, saying, “President Steen has provided nearly a decade of passionate leadership for Plymouth State University and has achieved numerous successes that will have a lasting impact on the University, the North Country, and the State. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I offer our sincerest thanks to President Steen for her tireless service and many contributions.”   The University System Board will begin a national search for her successor this autumn.

Steen said the timing was appropriate. “Significant milestones have been achieved. PSU’s new strategic plan, Focus 2020, will advance student success. ALLWell North, which will provide wonderful space for teaching, research, and recreation and athletics, is under construction. We soon will complete our current fundraising campaign, Imagine A Way.”

During Steen’s presidency, PSU has been recognized for teaching innovation and strong mentorship of students, for globalization and environmental sustainability, and for genuine partnership with New Hampshire, especially the Lakes Region and North Country.

Steen credits PSU’s community. “Initiatives succeed when dedicated people do exciting work, and the people at PSU are innovative and energetic. Finally, it is all about the people and for the students,” she said.

Accomplishments during Steen’s tenure have included strong academic and facilities plans that are reshaping the campus’s living and learning environment.

  • Opening in 2015, ALLWell (Active Living, Learning, and Wellness) North is a $32 million facility that will provide space for Health and Human Performance and other programs, as well as a field house and indoor track.
  • Plans are underway for a Health Sciences building to increase preparation of health care professionals.
  • The Savage Welcome Center and Hanaway Ice Rink is a venue for classes and recreation and a home for the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams.
  • Highland Hall hosts graduate study and technology, and PSU-Concord was developed as a site for education, business, and now criminal justice.
  • Samuel Read Hall is being remodeled to expand capacity for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs, and the Hartman Union Building to enhance technology and gathering and dining spaces.

New academic programs, student support, and innovative technology have expanded PSU’s academic profile and reputation.

  • PSU in 2008 received doctoral authority and added a Doctor of Education program, enhancing the work of educators in New Hampshire’s and New England’s schools. A Doctor of Physical Therapy program will begin in 2015-16.
  • Among undergraduate and graduate programs developed since 2006 are nursing, historic preservation, environmental science, tourism management, sports management, and professional sales leadership.
  • Undergraduate programs in communications, business, nursing, and criminal justice have been made available online, and the Lamson Learning Commons, a collaboration of technology and research, has moved the idea of “library” into a new age, with impressive online resources available to the community.
  • PSU has been honored by the New Hampshire Guard and Reserve with the “Above and Beyond” award for support of military members.
  • The National Survey of Student Engagement has placed PSU above its national peers in academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, and supportive campus environment.

Steen was among the first of the nation’s presidents to sign the President’s Climate Commitment, pledging PSU to a sustainable future.

  • The campus created a Climate Action Plan for carbon neutrality and an Office of Environmental Sustainability for enhanced programming.
  • An innovative EcoHouse was developed as a student living and learning laboratory for sustainability and historic preservation.
  • Langdon Woods Residential Complex and the remodeled Mary Lyon Residence Hall have received awards for design and sustainable construction.
  • Business NH Magazine awarded the Savage Welcome Center and Hanaway Rink its Lean and Green Building Award for cost containment and sustainability.
  • PSU has been regularly recognized by groups such as The Princeton Review as among North America’s most environmentally responsible higher education institutions.

As PSU prepares students to succeed in the international arena, global initiatives have increased.

  • Dozens of international partnerships in Europe, Asia, and South America have been added, including an office in China, and PSU has expanded opportunities for international research and service learning.
  • PSU’s Global Education Office was recognized by the national Center for International Studies with their first Going Places! Award, citing PSU for “innovative work in education abroad.”
  • In 2012, PSU opened a Center for Global Engagement to better serve PSU’s international students and help all students develop stronger global understanding.
  • In 2011, Steen was honored by New Hampshire Magazine as one of New Hampshire’s “Seven Remarkable Women of the World” for her leadership on PSU’s global course.

PSU has emphasized community engagement and commitment to making central and northern New Hampshire stronger through partnership.

  • PSU’s Centers for Active Living and Healthy Communities, for the Environment, and for Rural Partnerships have supported healthy people, healthy places, and healthy communities through increased faculty and student research.
  • PSU has been a leader in the Coos County Early Childhood Development Initiative to improve the lives of young children and their families.
  • PSU has collaborated closely with host communities of Plymouth and Holderness on projects such as the Pemi-Livermore Falls renewal and Plymouth’s 250th anniversary.
  • Award-winning programs in the performing arts have extended PSU’s cultural outreach across the region.
  • In February 2013, PSU opened the Museum of the White Mountains to preserve and promote the history, culture, and environmental legacy of the region, attracting thousands of visitors and schoolchildren.
  • Last October, in partnership with the Grafton County Economic Development Council, PSU opened the Enterprise Center at Plymouth, a small business incubator and accelerator. Since then, hundreds of business leaders have worked with students and faculty, and businesses are creating jobs.

That commitment to the region has been acknowledged.

  • PSU has been recognized as one of the nation’s top schools for encouraging community service among students by being named to the President’s Community Service Honor Roll every year since 2008.
  • In 2011 PSU earned the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement, indicating that teaching, learning, and research are done in collaboration with the region and genuinely enhance its wellbeing. Of the thousands of higher education institutions across the country, only 311 have achieved this recognition.

Steen developed the University’s Advancement division. The University soon will conclude a fundraising campaign, Imagine A Way that has raised nearly $20 million dollars. PSU’s friends, alumni, and supporters have increased scholarships that matter for students’ futures, created the University’s first three endowed professorships, and supported new awards for staff and faculty excellence and campus priorities for programs and buildings.

PSU also has been recognized as an excellent place to work.

  • PSU twice has been named by the Chronicle of Higher Education one of the nation’s Great Colleges to Work For, in categories such as teaching environment, which includes innovation and commitment to student success.
  • In 2010, Business NH Magazine featured PSU as one of the state’s five best large employers, the first time an educational institution had been honored.

Steen is vice chair of the NH Higher Education Commission and on the executive committee of the NH College and University Council and of Campus Compact. She is an incorporator of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, chaired the council of presidents of the Little East Athletic Conference, and has served on numerous non-profit boards associated with the arts, environment, and economic development. At the national level, she served on the American Council of Education’s Commission on Effective Leadership and is a member of American Association of State Colleges and Universities Committee on Policies and Purposes, its public policy board. She is a member of the Plymouth Rotary.

Also a professor of English, Steen earned awards from Montana State University for outstanding teaching and research and was named a distinguished alumna of the College of Graduate Studies at Bowling Green State University. She was selected an American Council of Education Fellow and is the author of five books. Steen holds a master’s degree from the Ohio State University and a doctorate from Bowling Green State University.

For more information about this release, contact Tim Kershner,, Chief Public Relations Officer, (603) 535-2476, or Bruce Lyndes, PSU News Services Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or

Innovation is a hallmark of the Plymouth State University academic experience, marked by collaboration and partnerships that deliver outstanding opportunities for students to engage in hands-on learning. To learn more about Plymouth State University, visit