“This building will be a center for science and mathematics not only at the College but in the region, a key part of our intellectual fabric, a place where students and faculty work together and where other people and organizations join them in keeping Keene State a beacon of learning.”

James A. Putnam, PRESIDENT – MARKEM CORPORATION, CAMPAIGN CHAIR

I met with Dr. Gordon Leversee, currently the Special Assistant to the Provost to discuss the impact Markem and the Putnam family have had on Keene State College and  the Keene Community. When Dr. Leversee came to Keene State College in 1981, the 1969 vintage science center had “no facilities, sponsors, or support for research.” By the mid-1990’s, it was decided that a new science center would be built to better support research and students learning science by doing science. 

The University System Trustees allocated $19 million of a $100 million 6-year state capital appropriation for the Knowledge Economy Education Program (KEEP NH) for the construction of the new science center. The project was estimated to cost $23 million and the college launched a $4 million capital campaign, Windows into Science, Portals to the World  in 2003 to raise the difference. 

“When Jim called, people answered.”

Dr. Gordon Leversee on Jim Putnam being chosen as overall campaign chair

This was the most expensive capital project in the history of the college and its largest capital campaign ever.  It was clear that a successful campaign would require special leadership and the obvious choice was Jim Putnam, co-CEO of the Markem Corporation which was owned by the Putnam family.   Gordon Leversee said of Jim Putnam “when Jim called, people answered.” The Putnam family and Markem were held in high regard in the greater Keene community and beyond and their leadership validated the importance of this effort.  Jim Putnam was the overall Campaign Chair and Joe Baute, Markem CEO (1979-1993), chaired the  “Special Friends” Committee. The campaign successfully raised the $4 million needed (from both small and large donors) while the building, which was rededicated in 2004,  was already under construction.

In 2006, the Putnam’s sold Markem to Dover. Dover merged Markem with Imaje to become Markem-Imaje. The sale of a family-owned firm to a corporation located in France could have put local philanthropy at risk, but that is not what happened. Instead, the Putnam family remained in Keene, becoming more involved in the Putnam Foundation, which supports regional cultural and historical activities. In 2007, the Putnam family created at Keene State College the David Putnam Distinguished Chair in Chemistry in 2007, one of only two endowed faculty chairs on campus.

The Putnam endowed chair in Chemistry honors Jim Putnam’s late father, David F. Putnam, who was himself a chemist. David Putnam received a Chemistry degree from Dartmouth College in 1936. He was an important driver in ink innovation after he became President of Markem in 1956. He held this position until 1979. To learn more about David Putnam, go here.In recognition of the  Putnam family and Markem leadership and contributions to the science center capital campaign and the establishment of the Endowed Professorship, Keene State College named the science center the David F Putnam Science Center.

As a current Keene State student pursuing a dual degree in Biology and Secondary Education, I can speak to the success of the David F Putnam Science Center. I spend most of my days in the science center. All of its alcoves and study spaces are the perfect place for me to enjoy the sunlight and plants throughout the building. The classrooms and lab spaces are wonderfully designed to allow for easy transition from lecture to lab within a class period. I feel very lucky to get valuable hands-on experience in such a space.

In addition to great classrooms and study spaces, the new science center has been a pull factor in securing a lot of wonderful science professors from around the world. With new professors come new opportunities for research. There are many wonderful opportunities and I can’t help but be thankful for the generosity of the Putnams along with many other individuals and companies in Keene.

Clicking here will take you to the archived article from April 2005 about what specific construction and additions were made to the Science Center!

Below you will find a gallery of pictures that show the old science center, articles about the fundraising, the David F Putnam Science Center, and more! Please click through and enjoy!

Putnam Philanthropy