KEENE -- Keene State College's new president, Anne E. Huot, spent Wednesday's move-in day introducing herself to incoming freshmen and helping them move into the dorms.
The New Hampshire native, who has been living outside of her home state for the past 28 years, wanted the new students to feel at home at Keene State as she does.
Huot grew up in Manchester, where her father was a typesetter for the Union Leader. He continues to live in Manchester as do many other family members.
"I went from the University of New Hampshire to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, and in 1985 I went to the University of Vermont, and this is my first time back living in the state. So it's a big deal. I'm excited," Huot said Wednesday.
"Today is just, in a word, great," Huot said looking around at the freshmen gathering at Fiske Quad for a welcoming lunch with their families. "It's the energy. It's the life that you see all over the place. It's why we're here. It's a very appropriate reminder to us and our community that that's why we're here."
Along with greeting students, she was there to assure parents that she was there to help their children make a smooth transition into college life.
"My heart hurts, it literally hurts," one freshmen mother, Robin DePaolo of Nashua, told Huot.
Huot is the college's 10th president and brings 23 years of academic leadership experience to the position.
Most recently, she served as provost and vice president for academic affairs for six years at the College at Brockport, State University of New York.
Reflecting on her new position, she said, "Opportunity is the word that I would use here. We have a lot of traditions here; let's build on those traditions. I want to be a very good steward of the educational experience of the students that come here. … But we also want to build our community partnerships, which are very strong and want to continue getting our students out into the real world environment, many through internships," she said.
Keene State students also volunteer in the community, she said, saying last year students worked more than 72,000 hours of community service in the city.
"So we want to grow and expand those," Huot said. "And I want to make sure we are sensitive to the regional needs of our workforce and want to provide as any educational experiences as possible to improve the economy."
Keene State is always expanding its courses. Last year an advanced degree in nursing was added, and this year students can study criminal justice as a major. Previously it was only offered as a minor area of study, she said.
Keene State's freshman class is 1,354, and 270 students have transferred.
"It's bigger than last year's class. Our residential halls are full," Huot said.
Huot has a B.S. in medical technology from the University of New Hampshire, an M.S. in medical technology from the University of Vermont, and a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Vermont.
After completing her Ph.D. in 1990, she joined the faculty at the University of Vermont and later, in 2004, the College of Health Related Professions at Upstate Medical University, State University of New York.
She served as interim dean and then executive dean of the graduate college at the University of Vermont from 1999 to 2003. From 2003 to 2007, Huot served as associate provost, then executive vice provost and head of the Office of Academic Affairs at the State University of New York-System Administration in Albany.