A Commitment to Excellent
Ann Weaver Hart
President, University of New Hampshire
April 28, 2004
This week marks an important time for high school seniors and their
families, because May 1 is the traditional deadline for students
to send their deposits to the colleges and universities of their
choice. For many New Hampshire high school seniors, the University
of New Hampshire is their first choice and for all the right reasons:
we guarantee an exceptional undergraduate experience at UNH. The
quality of our faculty and our academic programs is outstanding,
and the research that is conducted here involves students at all
levels, from the first-year experience through graduate and post-graduate
education. Our graduates get great jobs and go on to the best graduate
and professional programs in the country.
It is no secret that the University, like public colleges and
universities around the country, is grappling with serious budget
issues. I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that we are
dealing with this challenge responsibly, so that we can maintain
and improve the quality of every student's academic experience.
I also want to assure you we have weathered far worse budget storms
than this in the past and have come out on the other side stronger
and more nimble.
A recent survey indicates that we are already 30 percent more efficient
than our peer institutions. This efficiency has not been achieved
overnight - increasing tuition rates and low state support over
many years have forced us to think creatively to pursue excellence
in our core missions of teaching, research, and public service.
We aim to become even more efficient, and our Academic Plan is
the roadmap UNH will follow to balance the budget while maintaining
and improving a distinctive program that attracts highly qualified
in-state and out-of-state students. Because the University of New
Hampshire has a clear vision of its future articulated in the Academic
Plan, new programs and financial trade-offs are judged by their
contributions to that future and by their proximity to the University's
central mission, enrollment demands, and program costs. New opportunities
in undergraduate education have become increasingly exciting and
viable as UNH has brought its teaching and research achievements
more closely in sync than every before.
Prospective students have responded to these achievements. Applications
for admission have grown 27 percent over the past five years (to
11,204) and are higher this year than ever before. Facilities are
growing and improving along with the academic program. In the past
year, we have opened a new residence hall and a new state-of-the-art
dining facility. This week, we dedicate our Environmental Technology
Building to Senator Gregg.
Let me share just a few examples of the world-class programs undergraduates
can be a part of at UNH. The marine science, fisheries, and coastal
mapping programs create a cohesive and rapidly growing body of research
applied to practice, and our students are actively involved with
faculty in these research projects. The AIRMAP Cooperative Institute
and the New England Air Quality Study combine with other UNH initiatives
to make New Hampshire a national center for the study of atmospheric
science and air quality. Our ocean mapping center is one of only
two in the nation.
UNH is well on its way to becoming the best small public university
in the country, and we provide every student with a comprehensive
undergraduate or graduate education that is steeped in the liberal
arts tradition of critical thought and analysis. At the same time,
we provide students with study-abroad and international research
UNH will respond to budget realities. Responsible management is
a given at UNH as we work to balance expenditures and revenue while
focusing on the future. Even as the current economic downturn places
new challenges in our path, we will continue to grow in distinction,
distinguished by the special combination of a supportive living
and learning environment and a world class intellectual atmosphere
that provides opportunities for creative work and original inquiry
and research for every student. While this year presents financial
challenges, our commitment to providing students with a first-rate
education remains unwavering and steadfast.
If you need confirmation regarding this op-ed, please contact
Kim Billings, Director, UNH Media Relations, 603-862-1558.