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Barbara J. Seelye


Gender: Female

Date of Birth: November 29, 1930

Date of Death: March 10, 1994

Birth Place: Manito, IL

Death Place: Walpole, NH

Barbara J. Seelye

Former KSC President Barbara Seelye Dies

WALPOLE (AP) – Former Keene State College President Barbara Seelye, credited with improving the relationship between the city and college but whose reputation was sullied by a negligent homicide conviction, has died.

Seelye, the college’s sixth president and first woman to hold the job, suffered a heart attack at her Walpole home and died Wednesday. She was 63.

”We are very saddened to learn of Dr. Seelye’s death,” said Richard Cunningham, the college’s interim president. ”Those of us who worked with her at Keene State College acknowledge both her contribution as a past president at Keene State and her commitment to the Keene community.”

Seelye headed the college from 1980 to 1986, when she resigned.

In 1992, she was convicted of negligent homicide in the death of Allyson Barden, 25, of Keene. A jury in Hillsborough County Superior Court found that Seelye was drunk May 21, 1991, when she crossed the center line of Route 9 in Antrim and slammed into Barden’s car.

Seelye, who used a wheelchair after the accident, was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison. She had been free while her case was appealed to the state Supreme Court.

James Smart, a Keene State history professor who in 1984 wrote ”Striving,” a history of the college’s first 75 years, said Seelye helped improve relations between the city and school.

”I still think a lot of the good work that she did here was not highly visible,” he said. ”She was responsible for a lot of changes in personnel and reorganization. She started a capital fund drive, the results of which we see today.”

He said Seelye was misunderstood by some and was at times was considered unapproachable.

”One on one, she was great,” he said.

In ”Striving,” Seelye said she enjoyed being an administrator.

”All my life, whenever I’ve worked, I’ve ended up with some kind of administrative job, because there was something that needed to be done,” she said. ”Nobody else did it, so I did it. The first year I taught high school, I said, you people do not have a public relations program, and boom! I’m in charge of public relations. I found that I could be as happy and as satisfied doing administrative work as I could be teaching and doing scholarly work.”

Seelye was born in Manito, Ill. She received a bachelor’s degree in 1952 from Eureka College in Illinois, a master’s in 1955 from the University of Denver and a doctorate in 1967 from Eureka. Her specialties were communication theory, speech pathology, English and biology.

She taught English from 1952 to 1957 at a high school in Delavan, Ill., then spent two years as an instructor in the psychiatry department at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis.

From 1959 to 1974, she was at St. Louis University, starting as a speech instructor and later being promoted to professor of speech. She was the first woman chair of the university’s department of communication disorders.

In 1973, she was appointed assistant to the college president for community relations and was also a fellow of the American Council on Education Academic Administration.

She became Keene State president in 1980 and resigned suddenly in 1986 for reasons that never were made clear.

Published in The Union Leader (Manchester, NH) on March 11, 1994

MANITO — Barbara J. Seelye, 63, of Walpole, N.H., formerly of Manito, died Thursday, March 10, 1994, in Walpole.

She was born Nov. 29, 1930, in Peoria to Arvil and Mayme Dwyer Seelye.

Surviving are one sister, Josephine “Jo” Roddell of Manito; one niece, Diane Collier of Friendswood, Texas; and one nephew, Michael A. Smith of Houston.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Eureka College, and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Denver.

She was a teacher at Delavan and Manito high schools. She later taught at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and then at St. Louis University.

She later became dean of the College of Professional Studies at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, and was last president of Keene State College in Keene, N.H. Cremation will be accorded in Walpole. Information was provided by Maas Funeral Home in Manito.

Published in The Peoria Journal Star, (IL) – March 11, 1994

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