Five Priorities Identified by President During 2014 State of the University Address

Five Priorities Identified by President During 2014 State of the University Address

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Five overarching priorities identified in its 2010 strategic plan will help to steel the University of New Hampshire against the looming challenges that continue to threaten higher education, President Mark W. Huddleston said during his State of the University address delivered Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014.

The challenges are great, Huddleston noted, with the U.S. family income during the last three decades rising only 3.8 percent annually on average while the cost of college has gone up 7.1 percent. What’s more, state funding for the University System of New Hampshire has dropped 28.1 percent during the last 12 years while enrollment has risen 21.6 percent.

In 2011, New Hampshire legislators cut aid to the University System nearly 50 percent. Partial restoration of funding led to a tuition freeze that is still in place. Additionally, there will be a smaller pool of college applicants in ensuing years with the number of high school graduates in New Hampshire expected to drop 18 percent by 2020.

But UNH has proven that it can survive tough times, Huddleston said, and will do so again through hard work and focusing on these five priorities: enrollment, branding and marketing, STEM education, research, and fundraising.

“Challenges, even really hard, existential challenges, are not new to UNH,” Huddleston said.

He noted the continued efforts to increase student access and affordability, reflected in part through three new efforts he announced last month during a White House forum on expanding college opportunities:

  • Fifty, $5,000 scholarships for New Hampshire community college students with a 2-year degree who enroll at UNH. 

  • STEM Connect will increase opportunities for low-income students through a 2-week summer boot camp, ongoing advising and support; expanded from the piloted 14 students to 50, increasing the number of minority and low-income students studying in the STEM disciplines. 

  • Project SMART will offer new scholarships for high-achieving high school students to explore sciences and math at UNH.

Despite the residual of 2011’s tough times, Huddleston noted the numerous successes UNH experienced in 2013, including the April openings of the new Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, the Emergency Technology Center at UNH Manchester, and the Rudman Center for Justice, Public Policy and Leadership at the UNH School of Law in Concord.

In September, UNH opened the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, the first interdisciplinary school at UNH, already considered one of the nation’s top 10 schools for marine science and ocean engineering. And in October, various research commercialization programs merged to form UNH Innovation to support businesses and entrepreneurs by providing UNH experts, facilities and resources to bringing innovative ideas to market, reinforcing UNH's already central role as a driver of the state's knowledge economy.

In October, UNH and leading research commercialization programs formed UNH Innovation, an initiative that will support businesses and entrepreneurs by providing UNH experts, facilities and resources to bring their innovative ideas to market. UNH Manchester’s STEM Discovery Lab also was launched in October.

During the past year, Network New Hampshire Now, a UNH-led public-private collaboration, completed work on 865 miles of high speed fiber-optic cable, providing broadband access to under-served areas in all 10 N.H. counties.

In Concord, the International Technology Transfer Institute is helping to improve the distribution of technology in developing countries, with assistance from UNH Law faculty experts, students, and a network of experienced alumni around the world.

And, UNH Cooperative Extension marks its 100th anniversary this year.

On Tuesday, Huddleston also announced the forthcoming search for the first associate vice president for Community, Equity and Diversity, aimed at furthering diversity and inclusion at UNH.

 “Achievements like these create tremendous enthusiasm for UNH. And we can see that energy reflected in the strong culture of philanthropy we are building,” Huddleston said.  During the last fiscal year, UNH set an all-time record for private support with some $36 million raised.

In October, Marcy Carsey, an Emmy Award-winning television producer and UNH alumna, gave the university a $20 million gift. The second largest in UNH’s history, her gift will be used to create the new Carsey School for Public Policy.

“So, we know what we are and what we are not here at UNH.  And we have a clear idea of priorities. Let us leave here today with a renewed commitment to take all necessary action--gird ourselves for necessary change--to secure our common future,” Huddleston said.

The full text of the speech can be read here.