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Farmingdale State president W. Hubert Keen to step down in June 2016

W. Hubert Keen, president of Farmingdale State College,

W. Hubert Keen, president of Farmingdale State College, welcomes students, faculty and guests at the Farmingdale State College School of the Arts and Sciences and Engineering Technology graduation on Saturday, May 16, 2015. Credit: Angela Datre

Farmingdale State College president W. Hubert Keen will step down as leader of the 8,500-student public college in June 2016, he and college officials announced Monday.

Keen, 70, who has been at the college for nearly nine years, is widely credited with overseeing the institution during a period of significant enrollment growth, expansion of academic programs and nearly $200 million in campus construction and renovation.

"I'm really proud of what we've done. The college will continue to thrive and grow with new leadership, and I'm pleased we will have a year for that transition," he said yesterday afternoon.

The college, part of the State University of New York system, will launch a presidential search. Under SUNY guidelines, the campus College Council will conduct a search for a new president and recommend a candidate to Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher for approval by the SUNY Board of Trustees.

"President Keen has served Farmingdale State College with distinction during his tenure and he should be proud of his accomplishments," SUNY spokesman Sherman Jewett said.

During Keen's tenure at Farmingdale, the school's total enrollment rose 31 percent to 8,474, with full-time enrollment increasing from 4,020 to 6,287.

The college has become more selective in the students it admits. High school students' incoming grade-point average increased from 86.6 to 88.2 out of 100 points.

The college, historically a two-year agricultural and technical school, offered its first four-year degree program in 1985.

The majority of its courses now are for four-year degrees, and the school will begin offering its first master's degree program in the School of Engineering Technology next year.

Also with Keen at the helm, the college has been recognized for its students' return-on-investment, low ratio of student debt to income, campus safety, diversity and gender equity.

Programs in applied mathematics, sports management, medical technology, horticulture technology management, applied economics and software technology were added during Keen's presidency, and the number of full-time faculty increased from 153 to 211.

In the 10-year period beginning in 2003, Farmingdale's external grant funding has more than tripled to $4.6 million. Total philanthropic funding, meanwhile, has risen steadily, roughly doubling in the past eight years -- including a $1 million gift from alumna Theresa Patnode Santmann of Babylon in 2011.

Keen, whose annual salary is $198,000, became Farmingdale's eighth president in January 2007, succeeding Jonathan C. Gilbralter, who served from 2001 to 2006.

During his nearly 40-year career in academia, Keen has been provost and vice president for academic affairs at Farmingdale, interim president at the College at Old Westbury, special assistant to the system provost in the State University of New York, and provost and vice president for academic affairs at York College in Queens, part of the City University of New York.

Keen holds a doctorate in ecology and is a Fulbright fellow. He said he probably will continue to work in higher education part time after he leaves the president's post at Farmingdale.

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