NEH Grant Energizes Plymouth State Sustainability Studies
Plymouth State is offering new undergraduate courses and a lecture series thanks to a two-year, $56,867 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). All reflect the Cluster Learning Model, which emphasizes interdisciplinary teaching and learning, and of the University’s commitment to educating students about environmental sustainability, caring for the environment, and promoting sustainable practices to the campus community and the world.

“When we think about living more sustainably we often think about technology and engineering, but to promote change we need to understand the problem, reveal its impacts, and inspire society,” says Professor Brian Eisenhauer, director of PSU’s Office of Environmental Sustainability. “We don’t save what we don’t know or care about. Many professional roles in sustainability require diverse skills including those from the social sciences, communications, business, and the humanities, and we are excited to help our students create a better future through their work. This generous funding from NEH enables us to create ways to do that.”

2 students holding purple tie-dyed rags
boiling pot with plants used for tie-dying rags
The Museum hosted its first NEH grant-funded event, Katama Murray’s “Multidisciplinary Marking with Mindfully Foraged Plant Pigments” in September. Photos courtesy of Katama Murray.
Conversations in Sustainability, a core program course that combines communications, public health, business and marketing, social sciences and the humanities, is introducing students to current events and professional pathways in the field. In fall 2024, PSU will offer a new, experiential field class that will give sustainability studies students a chance to visit and explore nature, learn about ecology in practice, and express their reflections through creative writing. In spring 2025, PSU will offer a grant-funded course open to all undergraduates on the connections between sustainability, public health, environmental justice, and the humanities.

The NEH Spotlight on the Humanities in Sustainability Lecture Series is featuring guest speakers through December 2024. Lectures are held at the Museum of the White Mountains. The grant is also partially funding the museum’s fall exhibition, Extending Ecology: Making Meaning with the White Mountains, on display through December 15.

Associate Provost Lourdes Avilés Named American Meteorological Society Fellow
Lourdes Aviles Portrait
Maundy Mitchell photo.
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) Council has appointed Associate Provost and Professor of Meteorology Lourdes Avilés an American Meteorological Society Fellow. This lifelong appointment is based on “outstanding contributions to the atmospheric or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their applications during a substantial period of years.”  

Avilés will be honored during the 104th AMS Annual Meeting in Baltimore this winter. She is also a candidate to represent the Academic Sector as a member of the AMS Council.

Avilés has been at PSU for nearly 20 years, currently serving as associate provost, and most recently served as chair of PSU’s Meteorology and Physics programs and the leader of the Academic Unit for Computational, Applied, Mathematical and Physical Sciences until July 2023. She is a preeminent expert in atmospheric science, with an emphasis on light and color effects in the atmosphere and the historic New England Hurricane of 1938, the latter of which she wrote about in her first book, Taken by Storm, 1938, which was published in 2013 and was recognized by the International Atmospheric Science Librarians with a History Choice Award in 2014. 

Vice President for Enrollment Management and Communications Joanne Landers
Joanne Landers Portrait
Matt Rudzinski ’22, ’24MBA photo.
Joanne Landers, PhD, joined the University in August as vice president for enrollment management and communications. In this role, she is providing vision, leadership, and management of the University’s goals, objectives, and strategies, and she leads the admissions and communications teams.

“I am excited to join Plymouth State University, a historic institution with nationally and regionally renowned academic and athletic programs that are setting an example for 21st-century higher education with innovative projects and its unique Clusters Learning Model,” Landers said. “I look forward to telling the University’s compelling story as well as working to enhance the recruitment, retention, and persistence of PSU students to ensure that they are equipped to thrive once they graduate. I thank President Birx, the University trustees, and the entire PSU community for this opportunity.”

Landers brings 20 years of academic, enrollment and admissions experience and knowledge to PSU. She previously served as vice president of enrollment management for Saint Elizabeth University in New Jersey, and her career experience also includes positions with Tennessee Wesleyan University, Armstrong State University in Savannah, GA, and the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Landers holds a PhD in education with a specialization in leadership in higher education from Capella University, a master of arts in higher education administration from the University of Akron, and a bachelor of arts in political science from Miami University in Ohio. She also has an enrollment management certificate from Ruffalo Noel-Levitz.

College Student of the Year Corinne Cloutier ’25
Corinne Cloutier Portrait
Hailey Botelho ’22, ’23MBA photo.
StayWorkPlay’s College Student of the Year Award honors New Hampshire college students who are academic rising stars and are giving back to the community in substantial ways. Corinne Cloutier ’25, a sustainability studies major, is this year’s awardee.

As a 10-year-old, Cloutier was already arguing with her parents about climate change and, as a third grader, she was excited to recycle. She began her college career majoring in environmental science before switching to PSU’s new sustainability studies program, which focuses on implementation, communication, and change.  

“It highlights possibilities rather than what has gone wrong,” she explains. She hopes one day to work for Fortune 500 companies, guiding them in sustainability practices. 

Cloutier serves as social action trip coordinator, a student impact ambassador in the Office of Community Impact, an orientation leader, and is an integral part in implementing many on-campus events, including two Out of Darkness walks that raised nearly $20,000 for suicide awareness.

The 2022 winner, Joshua Chandler ’23, received his BS degree in cell and molecular biology with a minor in chemistry and a BA in psychology with a minor in neuroscience. A New Hampshire Air National Guard firefighter and EMT, Chandler took a full course load at PSU and served as speaker of the PSU Student Government Association while deployed in Kuwait. He plans to continue his studies to become a physician’s assistant. 

Historic Doctor of Education Accomplishment
Marcel Lebrun portrait
Photo courtesy Marcel Lebrun.
The University’s doctor of education program had a historic accomplishment this year: a 100 percent completion rate for two cohorts. Program Director Marcel Lebrun credits the personalized, supportive, and student-centered approaches that Plymouth State is known for, and his successful students credit him.

“I was pleasantly surprised at the depth and breadth of the required courses, and thankful for the opportunity to choose some that were related to my work as well as to my dissertation research,” says PSU Registrar Tonya Labrosse ’23EdD. “The work to update and upgrade the program led by Dr. Lebrun supported the timely completion of my dissertation.”

“The very last thing in the world that Marcel wants in a dissertation is for it to sit on a shelf, unread, and collecting dust,” adds Melissa Goyait ’19CAGS, ’22EdD. “Since I have completed my doctoral program, I have presented my research on supporting low-income first-generation college student persistence—my passion in life—multiple times, and I continue to share and use my research to make positive change and advocate for students.”

The program began in 2009 and was completely revised in 2018 with the onboarding of the Carnegie Program of Education Doctorate (CPED). PSU was one of only 17 institutions selected to participate by this prestigious organization that compromises of over 140 universities nationwide.

In 2019, Cohort 11—nicknamed the “Co11aborators”—began their doctoral journey with the new conceptual framework and curriculum, and as of this summer all members of the cohort have completed their degree within the prescribed time frame of four years. A new program with 100 percent completion rate is rare within the CPED organization.

This summer also saw a 100 percent completion rate for Cohort 7, “the Magnificent Saath,” which began its doctoral journey in 2015. Things look promising for 2024 as well, when three cohorts may complete their programs within the same year.

“New enrollments in the EdD program are on the rise with the three available pathways,” notes Lebrun. “PSU is leading the state with its forward thinking and creative approaches to develop leaders in the twenty-first century.”

Faculty Publications
Mark Okrant Portrait
Professor Emeritus Mark Okrant.
PSU faculty are prolific writers. A small sampling of their recent works includes:

  • Professor Emeritus E. John B. Allen serves as the New England Ski Museum’s historian. His Traveling the Old Ski Tracks of New England offers a fascinating history of downhill, cross-country, and backcountry skiing across the region.
  • Professor Emeritus Mark Okrant’s newest book, The Justice Seeker, is a Western coming of age story with fresh twists that include Hopi culture and mysticism, Jewish rituals, and one powerful supernatural presence.
  • Mr. Taxpayer versus Mr. Tax Spender by Teaching Lecturer Linda Upham-Bornstein presents a comprehensive overview of grassroots taxpayers’ leagues beginning in the 1860s and shows how they evolved during their heyday in the 1930s.