KEENE - Keene State College ushered in a new chapter Friday with the inauguration of college President Anne E. Huot in Spaulding Gymnasium.
Standing before the audience, Huot said her heart was filled with joy, and she was humbled by the confidence placed in her.
Wearing the college's colors - red and white - Huot claimed the college mascot as her own.
"When it comes to Keene State College, I have gone all in," Huot said. "I am an Owl for life."
Huot thanked her many family members present at the ceremony.
"It's a first-generation thing," she said, saying her family supported her as a first-generation college student and throughout her career.
Along with her family, Huot said, she was also grateful to the mentors in her life, especially Rene Charles Lachapelle, her former professor when she was a graduate student at the University of Vermont.
"He stayed with me for life, encouraging me to engage in work that would make a difference in the lives of others," Huot said.
Huot announced the endowment of the Rene Charles Lachapelle Fund in his memory.
"I can think of no better way to honor Rene than to provide direct aid to students for generations to come as they seek to bring theory to practice," Huot said. "You can't pay it back. But you can pay it forward."
Keene State College was started in 1909 to educate teachers, Huot said.
"Over the course of 100 years, the college has evolved to meet the needs of its students, ensuring the relevancy of its mission and honoring its core value that public education is a public good," Huot said.
Like other colleges and universities, Keene State has faced unprecedented economic times and a changing job market, she said. Keene State will continue to evolve and seek to meet the needs of its students, she said.
"It's really is about you and your education and our collective role in providing you with a transformational environment," Huot said.
And like other colleges and universities, Keene State will face many hard decisions.
"My job is to be your champion," Huot said to the students.
Huot has 24 years of academic leadership experience. After living outside of her home state for the past 28 years, the New Hampshire native returned to the Granite State last spring to step in as the new Keene State president.
Huot grew up in Manchester, where her father was a typesetter for the Union Leader. He and many other family members attended the ceremony Friday.
Before coming to Keene, Huot had most recently served as provost and vice president for academic affairs for the past six years at the College at Brockport, State University of New York.
Huot has a bachelor's in medical technology from the University of New Hampshire, a master's in medical technology from the University of Vermont, and a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Vermont.