By Kenna Caprio
At his retirement soiree in the middle of May, a crowd filled with colleagues, family and friends in Lenfell Hall listens as College at Florham Provost Ken Greene recalls some of the most memorable moments of his tenure at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
The stories range from the difficult to handle—snowstorms and the norovirus—to the sweet to recall—his children and now, grandchildren, playing on Reuters rock.
He refers to the faculty and staff gathered as his “friends,” and poignantly tells that crowd he will miss them.
After 38 years with the university, Greene will step down on June 30.
His colleagues will miss him too. “In addition to my boss, I consider him also my friend,” says Bill Klika, Director of Athletics at the College at Florham.
“In many ways, the biggest thing is I’m going to miss is him … just being able to pick up the phone and stop in the office to bounce ideas off of him,” says Klika. “I really appreciate the way he deals with people and his ability to interact.”
In his retirement, Greene plans to travel with his wife Pam, play golf, visit Maine and spend time with his grandchildren.
At one point during the celebration, Greene assures the packed room that he and his wife Pam are retiring to the home they maintain now in Morris County and that they will return to campus for sporting and theater events.
Along with the pep band, Green often points to the theater department and athletics programs when lauding the university’s “small college” status. The “active intellectual community” plus “increased student involvement” at the College at Florham together fulfill Greene’s vision of a small college.
“We push that Florham experience with learning beyond the classroom to build on this idea of the quality small college,” he says.
At the retirement party, associate provost Marilyn Rye notes changes made under Greene’s direction, highlighting in particular the plaza walkway construction near the rec center.
Despite his accomplishments as provost and the projects completed under his tutelage, Greene is eager to reinforce that the success of the past ten years is due to the commitment of the University community.
“Ken's a quiet, understated guy. He tends to do a lot behind the scenes,” says Peter Woolley, the newly minted College at Florham provost, professor of comparative politics and executive director of PublicMind—the university’s independent polling and research center.
“Ken has never been one to seek credit for himself. He's always been a good organizer of people and that's key in the provost role. People often think of leading as getting people to do something, but it's also always about letting people do something,” continues Woolley. “And that's been one of Ken's great strengths, giving the staff room to do what they do best.”
“It's something I aspire to be as good at, as I take on my new role as College at Florham provost."
Woolley will assume the post of College at Florham provost come July 1, 2012.
Greene started at FDU in 1974 as an assistant professor of political science, specializing in American politics, following five years of teaching at Allegehny College in western Pennsylvania. He served as chair of the social sciences and history department from 1979 to 1997 and later as assistant and then associate provost from 1997 to 2002.
Though Greene says he never aspired to an administrative position, he nevertheless agreed to the assistant provost position.
“In the late 1990s FDU created the campus provost structure and the Dean of the Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences, Peter Falley, became the Provost,” says Greene. “He asked me to be his assistant provost, and since I had been chair of the social sciences and history department for a number of years, I said ‘Why not?’”
In 2002, when Falley retired, Greene was appointed provost.
“Throughout his tenure, Provost Greene has shown remarkable dedication to students, faculty, staff and alumni. He has been a role model for the community, a leader of great character and judgment and a model of professionalism, openness and integrity,” says Acting University President Sheldon Drucker. “He will be greatly missed and warmly remembered.”