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On my initial formal visit to New Hampshire during the presidential search, the first person I met at the airport, by coincidence, was a Plymouth State University alumnus who told me a story. He had come to PSU (then PSC) confused and unfocused, he said, and wonderful faculty members had helped him to find his way and mentored him as he became genuinely excited about his field. He is now a public school principal who loves his work and, I later learned, has been recognized for exceptional leadership in New Hampshire. He wanted me to know that Plymouth State University had transformed his life. His is one of many similar stories that I have heard in recent months. When a former colleague in Montana learned that I had accepted the offer of appointment, he rushed to tell me what a wonderful education in business his son had received at PSU. Current undergraduates are strong in praise of their programs. Graduate students stop me on the street and in stores to impart their excitement about their research and about the faculty members who are guiding them. Alumni speak with extraordinary passion about the high quality of their PSU educations. They recount incidents in which faculty and staff members in music and art and English and political science and student affairs have positively impacted their lives and in some cases also their children’s lives.
Plymouth State University, then, has a heritage of excellence as well as a continuing commitment to innovation and engagement. Both are on display in this issue of Plymouth Magazine. For example, Ken Barlow ’84 is an Emmy-winning television meteorologist and another of the successful graduates who recalls outstanding professors who mentored him beyond his undergraduate years. On his return to campus, sharing his expertise with current students, he was impressed by the Judd Gregg Meteorology Center, one of the nation’s finest weather education facilities, and the activities in which it enables students to participate.
Past and present converge in a different way in Marcia Schmidt Blaine’s innovative class in local history. Her students have been involved in undergraduate research, in this case oral histories. Students have investigated materials in print, then interviewed alumni at length, and finally created a poster exhibit about life at Plymouth State from 1938 to 1975—academics, athletics, social life, and the pressures during World War II and the Vietnam War. That kind of active learning is an important feature of a PSU education.
This summer, the College of Graduate Studies moved into new and expanded facilities, reflecting the exceptional growth in advanced studies at PSU. With more than 75 advanced degrees and certificates in varied fields such as music education, health care administration, business, and environmental science, CGS is engaged with the needs of New Hampshire and the region, offering programs that emphasize applied research and that further students’ personal and professional goals.
Community engagement is shown by students like Jared Woodcock ’06, who conducted a workshop on bio-fuels and engine conversion, and by alumni who are leaders in the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative. These alumni are educating citizens about energy options and renewable resources, and recently saw their program recognized for excellence by the U.S. Department of Energy.
As we choose what to feature in Plymouth Magazine, we are aware of how much is being left out. As the new president, I may be especially conscious that there are so many exciting workshops, classes, partnerships, research projects, initiatives, presentations, performances, exhibits, and athletic events that we cannot begin to present them all. After you read this issue, I hope you’ll want to learn more about student, staff, faculty, and alumni achievements. Please visit our Web site, read our regularly updated news items, and visit the campus. All of you are part of the wider community that is Plymouth State University, and we will continue to strive to make you proud.