Sara Jayne Steen became the 14th president of Plymouth State University on June 30, 2006, retiring from the presidency on June 30, 2015. 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 student 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. The first in her family to attend college, Steen emphasizes the transformative power of education.
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.
President Steen has been active with businesses and civic groups and has served on many state, local, and national boards. Among them, she has represented PSU as a member of the New Hampshire Higher Education Commission, the New Hampshire College and University Council, and Campus Compact of New Hampshire, serving on the Executive Committee for all three organizations. She is a member of the Plymouth Rotary and has served in New Hampshire the Board of Directors of the White Mountain Gateway Economic Development Corporation and as an Incorporator of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
At the national level Dr. Steen represented New Hampshire on the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Council of State Representatives and served on AASCU’s Committee on Policies and Purposes, its public policy board. In addition, Dr. Steen served on the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Presidents Advisory Group, representing the Little East Conference, of which she chaired the Executive Committee.