New Keene State College president revels in Manchester roots
The Manchester native was introduced Tuesday as the 10th president of the liberal arts college in southwestern New Hampshire, the state that was Huot's home from childhood until she left for graduate studies at the University of Vermont in 1985.
Huot's father, Don, still lives in Manchester, and accompanied his oldest daughter to Keene for her introduction Tuesday.
"His degree of happiness was really unmatched. He was just thrilled," Huot said. "He said to me 'I'm so glad you're coming home.'"
It's not quite home, but the distance of roughly 60 miles between Keene and Manchester seemed more like just a few blocks Wednesday night as she made her return trip Wednesday to her home in western New York. Huot has served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at The College of Brockport, State University of New York, for the last six years. The campus is about 20 miles west of Rochester and a 445-mile drive from Manchester.
"I had been exploring a little bit and looking for the right match in terms of my skills and what I can bring to the position and what the institution was seeking," she said.
Keene seemed to be an ideal match for much more than just its location.
Keene State College was primarily a teachers' school when Huot was growing up in Manchester, where she graduated Trinity High School in 1976 and went east to Durham to study medical technology at the University of New Hampshire.
Today, Keene State College is focused on liberal arts - a broad-based education Huot said allows students to develop their minds and the way they think through both academic studies and life experience. The school motto is "Enter to learn, go forth to serve."
"When you step on to campus, you get a feeling of engagement and people that are dedicated to what they're doing there," Huot said.
"They really believe in their mission as a public liberal arts college."
Huot's own educational background is in science. She received a master's degree in medical technology, then a doctorate in cell and molecular biology from the University of Vermont.
She said her studies relate quite well to academic administration in several ways - both require discipline and study. "In both roles, having high degree of intellectual curiosity is an asset," she said. "That's another way of saying I have a very inquisitive mind."
Don Huot spent 40 years working as a typsetter and compositor at the New Hampshire Union Leader. Although he and his wife, Gloria, did not attend college, they made it quite clear to their seven children that they would be pursuing their education beyond high school. And all seven did.
"They were very clear that an education was important. They placed really high value on that and did what it took to get all of us through school," she said.