From the President

October, 2008
President Sara Jayne Steen

President Sara Jayne Steen

A Rich History of Excellence in Education

Over the summer, I took a few days off to relax, see friends, run errands, and enjoy New Hampshire and all it offers. Everywhere I went, people wanted to talk about the University, a daily occurrence that is a joy for me and offers a powerful external perspective on Plymouth State University—on what we do here and how much it does matter.

At a medical appointment, the practitioner said, “My goddaughter just graduated from PSU in health and human performance. She received a wonderful education and worked with great teachers and advisors.” Read More

Letter to the Editor

October, 2008

Reading the Spring 2008 Plymouth Magazine from cover to cover was a great way to start the day! The features and shorter articles all made engaging reading and were laid out beautifully. The “Sense and Sustainability” article was my favorite (great title!)—with its subtitles, integration of journal excerpts, and excellent photos. The magazine truly showcases PSU as a dynamic institution.

Oh, and “Thoroughly Modern Mary” is another title I liked!

I could go on and on … but the gist is you’re doing impressive work and producing an appealing, top-quality publication for PSU. Thank you!

Jane Weber
Director, Writing Center
Plymouth State University

Familiar Faces

October, 2008

familiar_faces1Can you identify any of the people in the photo to the left? Hint: Click on the image for a larger representation.

Send your comments to:
or mail to:

Editor, Plymouth Magazine,
Office of Public Relations, MSC 24,
Plymouth State University,
17 High Street,
Plymouth, NH 03264-1595

Be sure to include your class year as we may print your response! Read More

Center for the Environment Awarded National Science Foundation Grant

October, 2008

The National Science Foundation recently awarded a three-year grant to the Center for the Environment to sponsor a student research program at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, a 3,160-hectare reserve in the White Mountain National Forest. The program, offered during the summer, emphasizes the societal relevance of ecology and ecosystem science through both a research mentorship and an outreach partnership with an organization engaged in communicating ecosystem information to broad audiences.

According to Assistant Professor of Hydrology Kevin McGuire, the communication aspect of the program provides a unique opportunity to students. “Communicating science … is typically not an explicit objective in most undergraduate or graduate science programs,” he says. “These students will be better equipped to bridge the gap between science and public policy and increase science literacy on issues related to environmental change and sustainability.”

Petersen Awarded Fulbright Scholarship

October, 2008

Professor of English Meg Petersen, who was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, left for the Dominican Republic in August to begin her year-long project in teaching writing and mentoring teachers in a K–12 school system. Petersen is excited about the opportunity her Fulbright has given her to return to the Dominican Republic, where she worked for four years prior to joining the PSU faculty in 1991. “Ever since I left there in 1991, I have hoped to someday return to work to support Dominican teachers,” says Petersen. “I am so happy to see this dream become a reality.”

Petersen—who is also director of the Plymouth Writing Project, an organization committed to improving the teaching of writing and learning in the nation’s schools through professional development—notes that the Fulbright provides a chance to strengthen and enhance Plymouth State’s educational opportunities. “I hope to forge strong connections between the Plymouth Writing Project and the teachers I work with in the Dominican Republic,” Petersen said. “My eventual goal is to set up intercultural exchange programs between the two countries.”

A noted poet, Petersen’s work has appeared in Concrete Wolf, Entelechy International: A Journal of Contemporary Ideas, Garden Lane, English Journal, The Leaflet, The International Journal for Teaching Writing, the Plymouth Writers Group anthologies, and other publications. In 1997, she was named New England Poet of the Year by the New England Association of Teachers of English. In 2000, Petersen was honored with the PSU Distinguished Teaching Award.

McDougall Selected for Fulbright Scholarship

October, 2008

“This is an absolutely thrilling opportunity,” says Professor of Business Duncan McDougall of his Fulbright Scholarship, which will take him to the classrooms and boardrooms of Romania this fall.

McDougall, who has been teaching in MBA programs for more than 30 years and serves on the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs’ graduate programs accrediting board, will teach courses at Babes-Bolyai University, help strengthen the university’s international business program, and advise faculty and administrators on building an MBA degree program.

“It will be a refreshing, stimulating experience that will provide me with a more global point of view,” says McDougall, who will also act as a liaison between U.S. and Romanian businesses that want to develop relationships.

Provost Julie Bernier notes that both Plymouth State and Babes-Bolyai University, who have enjoyed a student and faculty exchange partnership since 2004, will benefit from McDougall’s Fulbright experience. “This is a wonderful occasion for Dr. McDougall to share his expertise and to bring back a wealth of experience and knowledge to our students,” she says. “It is also a great opportunity for Plymouth State University and Babes-Bolyai University to further develop our partnership.”

Stephen Taksar New Vice President for Finance and Administration

October, 2008

A veteran financial officer with more than 20 years of experience in higher education, Stephen Taksar assumed the post of vice president for finance and administration in August. He replaces William Crangle, who announced his retirement last autumn and now oversees the University’s environmental sustainability efforts.

A native New Englander, Taksar grew up in Enfield, CT, and earned his bachelor’s degree at Central Connecticut State University, his Master of Education at Northeastern University, and his MBA at Providence College. Most recently he was vice chancellor for administration and finance at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, IN. Previously, he served as chief operations officer at Babson College’s School of Executive Education in Wellesley, MA; assistant vice president of finance and operations at Curry College in Milton, MA; and business manager at Wheaton College, Norton, MA.

“Plymouth State University aligns very well with my core values as a person and a professional,” Taksar says. “It is my hope and belief that I will make a positive difference, not only at Plymouth State, but within the local community. The future looks very bright for Plymouth and I am excited to be a part of the leadership team to help achieve its highest dreams and aspirations.”

Wes Dow Honored for Geographers On Film

October, 2008

Professor Emeritus of Geography Maynard Weston “Wes” Dow was honored by the Association of American Geographers for Geographers on Film, a series of more than 550 interviews with distinguished geographers and selected scholarly sessions.

The project resulted from Dow’s years of teaching the history and philosophy of geography. “Students would pore over writings of cognoscente to acquire an appreciation for the genesis and development of the discipline as a field of learning,” Dow says. After considering what an educational windfall it would have been to have Aristotle on film, Dow decided to record the thoughts of modern scientists in the field for posterity.

The AAG will assume responsibility for archiving, digitizing, and disseminating Geographers on Film. Copies will also be archived at several major academic libraries throughout the United States.

Monninger's Award Winning Baby

October, 2008

Associate Professor of English Joseph Monninger has received a 2008 Peace Corps Writers Award for his novel Baby, the story of a troubled 15-year-old girl who is sent to a foster home in New Hampshire, where she is placed with an older couple who races sled dogs.

Each year, the Peace Corps Writers group presents awards for best fiction book, best nonfiction book, best poetry book, and best short piece—all by Peace Corps volunteers. Monninger served in the Peace Corps in Burkina-Faso, West Africa, from 1975 to 1977, writing letters home and short stories about his experiences with the local villagers and his encounters with African magic and superstition.

“I can recommend no better apprenticeship for a young, would-be writer than a stint in the Peace Corps,” Monninger says. “I’m proud of my service in the Peace Corps and that makes this award especially rewarding.”

Faculty and Staff Recognized for Excellence

October, 2008

Each spring, the University recognizes some of the many talented, creative, and dedicated professionals who have distinguished themselves in their disciplines and in their work. This year’s cohort reflects the full spectrum of PSU’s mission, from excellence in teaching and service to innovation in research and the arts. Visit the Excellence Web site to learn more about the 2008 distinguished faculty and staff.