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NHTI president Lynn Kilchenstein steps down

Lynn Kilchenstein, left, here in a file photo provided by NHTI, is stepping down from her position of the state's largest community college by the end of the year.

Lynn Kilchenstein, left, here in a file photo provided by NHTI, is stepping down from her position of the state's largest community college by the end of the year.

After 10 years as the president of NHTI, Lynn Kilchenstein will step down from her position as the head of the state’s largest community college at the end of the calendar year.

The college announced its president’s decision in a press release yesterday afternoon. Kilchenstein, now 65, began her NHTI career as an English professor in 1986, and she has served as president since 2003.

“It is time for me to explore some of my other interests and to participate more fully in family matters,” Kilchenstein said in a statement. “It’s an appropriate time to move on as the College enjoys numerous talented and emerging leaders; a highly creative community of teachers and staff; a relevant and rigorous academic curricula; solid enrollment and a well-deserved reputation for excellence.”

NHTI is the largest college of seven in the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH), and it has grown significantly under Kilchenstein’s leadership. During her term, she led the college through a rebranding campaign in 2007 and spearheaded a three-phase expansion and upgrade of the facilities for the school’s health programs. The student population reached its peak during Kilchenstein’s term in 2010-11, when 6,685 students took courses at NHTI.

Jack Dearborn earned an associate’s degree to be an electronic technician when he was a student at NHTI from 1970 to 1972, and he worked his way up to become a vice president at the international defense, security and aerospace company BAE Systems. He returned to NHTI to be a member of the president’s advisory board in 2004, right around the time Kilchenstein began her term as president at the college.

Throughout her presidency, he said Kilchenstein remained committed to making NHTI a place where students could take courses across a wide range of programs – at low cost.

“She was interested in keeping the tuition low and, at the same time, broadening out the curriculum to include young people and also people who are looking to retool their careers,” Dearborn said.

Two of Dearborn’s daughters have also studied at NHTI, which he said has continued to be “a great starting point for a career” over the 40 years since he graduated. During her 10-year tenure, Dearborn said the outgoing president has been committed to keeping NHTI that way.

“I think her passion is actually on the smaller college,” he said. “I do believe this to be the truth, she thought she was (making) a significant contribution to society by being president of a small junior college, an associate’s college.”

CCSNH Chancellor Ross Gittell also said the mission of good education at a good economic value drove Kilchenstein’s work at NHTI.

“I really think she has a true passion, caring for students and understanding their academic needs,” Gittell said. “A lot of our students . . . have to overcome some challenges to be able to afford higher education, to be able to work and go to school at the same time.

“She’s truly committed to the mission of NHTI and the community college system.”

Kilchenstein may return to teaching part time, though she gave no specific plans, NHTI’s director of communications Alan Blake said yesterday.

Gittell said an interim president, who will be set to take over when Kilchenstein steps down at the end of the year, will be announced within the next several weeks. The CCSNH board of trustees will be responsible for recruiting and selecting her permanent replacement.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Lynn is one of the nicest and smartest people I've ever known.

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