Sara Jayne Steen became the 14th president of Plymouth State University on June 30, 2006. Steen, a specialist in early modern literature, is also Professor of English at Plymouth State.
Before coming to PSU, she was dean of the College of Letters and Science at Montana State University; an American Council on Education Fellow in residence at the University of Delaware; and professor and chair of the Department of English at Montana State University, where for over two decades she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in her field and regularly guided undergraduate research.
Raised in northern Ohio, she holds undergraduate and doctoral degrees in English from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree from the Ohio State University.
Steen’s scholarship has focused on the recovery of writings by early modern English women and the subsequent reassessment of writers such as Shakespeare when women’s voices are introduced to the literary conversation. She is the author or editor of five books, including The Letters of Lady Arbella Stuart, as well as having served as guest editor of journals such as Shakespeare Quarterly. In addition, she has spoken and written on issues related to leadership and higher education public policy.
Steen has received numerous awards for teaching, for scholarship, and for the creative integration of teaching and research, including in 1996 the President’s Distinguished Teaching Award from Montana State University. She was recognized in 1994 for her professional achievements by the Graduate College at Bowling Green State University.
She is a member of the Plymouth Rotary and serves in New Hampshire on the Speare Memorial Hospital Association Board, the Board of Directors of the Plymouth Regional Clinic (providing health care to underinsured adults), the Board of Directors of the White Mountain Gateway Economic Development Corporation, the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire Nature Conservancy, and as an Incorporator of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
At the national level Dr. Steen was an elected member of the Executive Committee for the Association of Departments of English and currently serves on the American Council on Education’s Commission on Effective Leadership, the board charged to prepare the next generation of higher education’s leaders.
The first in her family to attend college, Steen emphasizes the transformative power of education. In a recent interview she added, “I like helping other people succeed, and that’s really what you’re doing as an administrator. . . . It’s seeing how to do something and making it happen for students and faculty.”
She is married to Joseph H. Bourque, a writer.