ALUMNI profile 

NYC Actuary Credits Liberal Arts Education  
for his Success in Business World 

Kenneth 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."