NYC Actuary Credits Liberal Arts Education
for his Success in Business World
Keene (Math '47), who recently gave three million dollars to the College
of Liberal Arts and Sciences for the restoration of historic Flint and
Anderson Halls, began his long, positive relationship with the University
of Florida in the summer of 1942. His mother, a South Bay, Florida
school-teacher, brought Keene--then in high school--with her to Gainesville,
where she was taking courses to update her teaching license. She
enrolled Ken at UF's P.K. Yonge lab school, where he met instructor Hazen
Nutter. Nutter was impressed with the young Keene, and convinced
Mrs. Keene to leave her son with him in Gainesville, where he could continue
his studies and help Nutter care for his elderly mother.
Nutter, says Keene, "had a substantial
influence on me. He held three jobs.....and he always inspired me
to do my homework. He also taught me how to drive," Keene remembers
fondly. After graduating from P.K. Yonge, Keene went on to UF although
he left Gainesville and the Nutters after his freshman year to join the
Navy. He served until the end of WWII (19 months).
Because the Navy put him through
a special 11-month training program for radar technology, Keene was able
to convince the registrar to give him 30 hours of Arts and Sciences credit
upon his return to UF in 1946. Keene kept in close touch with Nutter, who
continued to take in and support other students. To commemorate the
man who so impressed him, several years ago Keene donated both a conference
table for the Ruth McQuown Room and an endowed memorial scholarship fund
in Nutter's name.
After earning his math degree
in 1947, Keene was admitted to The University of Michigan, which, he says,
"had one of the top two programs in actuarial science in the country."
Keene credits a Liberal Arts education for his success in graduate school
and the business world. "There are two categories of actuaries,"
Keene says, "those who can present themselves well and have a strong business
orientation, and those who, in today's vocabulary, might be called 'nerds.'
My CLAS education gave me a broad view of a number of subjects, which was
very important in my career."
Keene began his professional
life as an actuary in Hartford, with a 16-year stint at Aetna. Next he
worked for several large brokerage and consulting firms in New York City,
including Met Life and Johnson and Higgins, where he spent 17 years before
retiring in 1987.
The 70-plus Keene remains very
active. When asked what he most enjoys, without skipping a beat he
replies, "shooting hoops. I'm a devoted fan of the regional
YMCA," he continues, "and I spend three or four hours a day there."
Ken and his wife, Janet, (pictured
above, right) both plan to be very involved in the restoration of historic
Flint and Anderson, and Janet, who has been renovating houses since 1981,
is especially interested in contributing to the interior decoration. "I
enjoy historic projects, so the Flint renovation appealed to me," she explains.
"I'm really excited," she continues, "and I can't wait to get started."