Discovery: a way of knowing
State of the University Address

Ann Weaver Hart
President
University of New Hampshire

Sept. 6, 2005



Welcome back to UNH as we begin another wonderful academic year. Before we continue, my thanks to the many talented staff members who created the wonderful video we just watched. It continues to intrigue me how varied are the ways in which the University of New Hampshire pushes us to know more about our world and the people who make it so fascinating.

This afternoon, I want to reflect with you on some of the challenges and achievements of the year just past and look to the year ahead.

Let me begin by thanking you for your commitment to this great University and by recognizing the 2005 recipients of the Faculty Excellence Awards for teaching, research, and public service and the Presidential Award of Excellence. I can think of no better way to begin a year than to acknowledge the achievements of our outstanding faculty and staff. This year’s awardees are:

* John W. Seavey, (health management and policy) Distinguished Professor;
* Victoria L. Banyard, (psychology) Outstanding Associate Professor;
* Jo Sias Daniel, (civil engineering) Outstanding Assistant Professor;
* Gale B. Carey, (nutritional sciences) Jean Brierley Award for Excellence in Teaching;
* Charlotte E. Witt, (philosophy and the humanities) Excellence in Research;
* W. Jeffrey Bolster (history) Excellence in Public Service;
* Jane A. Nisbet, (education) Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Public Service;
* Barbara T. Cooper (French) Excellence in International Engagement; and
* Russell G. Congalton, (remote sensing and geographic information systems) Excellence in Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award.

The following faculty members received Awards of Excellence in college teaching:
* Edward H. Wong, (chemistry) College of Engineering and Physical Sciences;
* Robert W. Kenefick, (kinesiology) School of Health and Human Services;
* Lisa C. Miller, (English) College of Liberal Arts;
* R. Scott Smith, (classics) College of Liberal Arts;
* Cynthia Van Zandt, (history) College of Liberal Arts;
* Thomas D. Lee, (forest ecology) College of Life Sciences and Agriculture;
* John F. McCarthy, (business) UNH Manchester;
* Ludwig A. Bstieler, (marketing) Whittemore School of Business and Economics; and
* Matthew Chagnon, (forest technology) Thompson School of Applied Sciences.
I am pleased to recognize Presidential Award of Excellence recipients:
* Nicole M. Cavicchi, (Early Childhood Teacher) Child Study and Development Center;
* Deborah J. Cheever, (Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development) Cooperative Extension;
* Kathryn M. Ferreira, (Director, Center for Graduate and Professional Studies) UNH Manchester;
* Stephanie M. Higgs, (Senior Administrative Assistant, Office Manager) University Counseling Center; and
* Shawn P. Roche, (Facility Manager) New Hampshire Public Television.

Congratulations to you all.

You will have an opportunity to hear from faculty at the Academic Convocation on September 13th at 12:30 p.m., when Provost Bruce Mallory moderates a discussion with UNH Discovery Authors. These authors are part of our new University Dialogue series. I will be telling you more about the series in a few minutes.

Where Are We?

The 2004-05 academic year was filled with challenges, excitement, and achievement. I have selected just a few examples for illustration this afternoon. These achievements represent progress toward accomplishing our goals and objectives. We are seeing the fruits of our collective labor.

We are increasing our sponsored grants and contracts. UNH exceeded $108 million in this critical area last year. This represents an increase of more than 15 percent over the previous year and an even higher rate of increase in indirect cost recovery. And, the $108 million figure does not include the recent $38 million NASA grant to build instrumentation for the space agency’s Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) mission—the largest single research award in the history of this institution. This growth in extramural funding holds enormous promise for the University and it supports faculty as they work to answer burning questions and seek solutions to major issues facing our world. Art, scholarship, and research represent a Discovery way of knowing central to our core mission—the creation of new knowledge and new manifestations of the human spirit.

We continue to expand our commitment to new knowledge creation as a component of Discovery for undergraduates. This spring, more than 700 students presented original research and creative work at the Undergraduate Research Conference. The conference featured 15 separate events, giving undergraduates across all colleges and schools the chance to present the results of their work. The growth of this program over the past six years has brought true distinction to undergraduate education.

We are creating a more cohesive student life experience. In keeping with our long-held desire and explicit goal in the Academic Plan to more fully integrate the student experience, orientation now extends across the entire first undergraduate year. Staff and faculty are creating a closer connection that begins with the June orientation and continues through the second semester. Young adulthood is a period of explosive personal change and discovery. Recognizing the critical link between personal and academic discovery, we will continue to emphasize improvement in the integration between student life and academic learning.

We are building a more inclusive community. In response to the diversity study circles held last fall, Provost Mallory and Vice Provost Wanda Mitchell appointed the Diversity Task Force to develop a Diversity Strategic Plan. We adopted this plan and began its implementation. Our current focus is on faculty recruitment and retention of people of color and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but we will not lose sight of the need to continue to be an inclusive and welcoming community to all. We also adopted, with the full support of the Faculty Senate and input from across UNH, a new and expanded policy against discrimination and harassment that adds gender expression or identity and further expands our understanding of inclusion and welcome.

The President’s Commission on the Status of Women faced a particular challenge last year because of heightened visibility and concern about issues of sexuality, violence, and freedom of speech. I re-established the Violence Against Women Committee that works through the Commission, and created a new position in the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program office that addresses the issue of intimate partner—or domestic—violence.

Our community is not of one mind on the critical questions that arose, and the dialogue will continue. Leaders in Student and Academic Services met with The New Hampshire and Main Street magazine staffs to work toward a higher level of professionalism and civic dialogue. The Student Senate adopted the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics for responsible journalism for all publications funded by student fees. The Student and Academic Services division has taken action through the established judicial system. Many across campus, including the journalism faculty, the theatre department faculty and students, and others, are sharing ideas about ways to nurture respect while advancing freedom of speech and protecting the safety of all members of our community. Faculty from many disciplines have expressed their commitment to continue this dialogue with their active participation, which will expand our understanding and enlighten the debate.

Finally, we have worked with the sororities and fraternities to develop a new accountability system that ties chapters’ rush and pledging activities to achievements in service, leadership, and academics. And we are establishing better relationships with our community by eliminating outdoor parties for UNH sponsored Greeks.

We are vigilant stewards of New Hampshire’s resources. We seek ways to enhance funding and cut expenses at the University of New Hampshire to address a worrisome budget gap in some areas. As Vice President Candace Corvey stated in a letter last spring, in the five-year period between fiscal years 2002 and 2007, revenue to our Education and General Budget, which comes from multiple sources, is increasing by an average annual rate of 4.8 percent. In contrast, our expenses are growing by 5.5 percent. If unaddressed, this difference would produce an annual $1.7 million budget gap. Continued attention and resourcefulness are required.

We are aggressively seeking cost savings through initiatives such as our power cogeneration plant, as well as an ongoing search for alternative fuels. We will seek additional funding sources with equal vigor. The deans worked last year with Provost Mallory and me to set the priorities for the next capital campaign, and we will complete that planning process this year. With closer ties between the UNH Foundation and the Alumni Association, we are more effective than ever before in our outreach to alumni across the country.

Many of you assisted in our public advocacy efforts last year through on-campus visitors’ tours and discussions with key legislators about operating and capital budgets. The final state budget provides for an increase in the state appropriation of 2.2 percent in FY 06. The comparable increase for FY 07 is 4.2 percent. While we recognize the enormous fiscal pressures that the legislature and the governor face as they craft the state budget, greater investment is needed if New Hampshire is to provide an affordable first-rate public higher education to its citizens.

The University of New Hampshire drives New Hampshire’s economy! We will continue to advocate for a level of state funding that recognizes the tremendous contribution of higher education to the well being of the state, and its real costs, including those shouldered by our students and their families.
On the bright side, the New Hampshire legislature fully funded our capital budget request. This means that we can move forward with the renewal and renovation of DeMeritt, James, and Parsons halls, a long-overdue effort to rescue three buildings in dire condition. Still, there is much to be done with other “classic” buildings across campus!

These are our constants. We continually strive for more realistic financial support and better facilities. We are committed to a diverse and inclusive community. And, we do not waver in our dedication to a safe, rewarding, exciting academic environment where every student can make her or his experience distinctive, meaningful, and personally fulfilling.

Where are we headed?

Two years ago, I focused on the tremendous promise of the newly adopted Academic Plan and the challenges we faced in realizing that promise. I called upon the University community to make the Discovery Program a reality by adopting and beginning to implement the six-year transition plan proposed by the Faculty Implementation Committee. I also predicted that in the near future, “every student at UNH will test the veracity of our discovery claims in every class, in the laboratory, and in the field, and they will judge the congruence of our actions and rhetoric.”

Last year, I declared that we have the will to believe that we can achieve our goal and move forward to make that plan a reality. I provided examples from across the University of ways in which that will to believe was being realized through concrete accomplishments.

This year, we are on the cusp of creating a true signature educational experience. Despite the difficulty of the challenges, an unmistakable Gold Buckle Ride, we are poised to make that promise a reality.

At the graduate level, the entering class of 650 has the highest undergraduate grade point average on record. We have more than 300 students enrolled in professional masters’ programs through the Center for Graduate and Professional Studies in Manchester. Innovative new programs such as the one-year accelerated MBA are making their mark on the future.

Through teaching and scholarship, graduate students contribute to virtually every aspect of University life, including the humanities, social and life sciences, physical and geosciences, engineering, the arts, and applied professional fields. Our nationally recognized Preparing Future Faculty program provides preparation in the newest teaching methods. Research teams put faculty, post-doctoral, and graduate students side by side with undergraduates in exciting collaborations. The undergraduate experience is enriched through these valuable relationships.

This year, we welcome one of our largest and strongest first-year classes in University history. With an estimated 2,800 students, the entering class is high achieving, with a sharp increase in the number of top New Hampshire high school students enrolling. We experienced a rise in average SAT scores and a 38 percent increase in admission deposits from New Hampshire residents offered Presidential and Dean’s Scholarships.

These students are attracted to a dynamic community of teachers and learners. They are attracted to programs that work together to meet their expectations for a holistic academic and personal discovery experience. UNH will not only prepare them to be active learners and shapers of their individual experiences, but will equip them to be contributing citizens who will continually master new ways of knowing in a global community. These students are attracted by an intimate living and learning environment that is charged with the energy and excitement of inquiry and personal growth. They are attracted to Discovery.

A huge debate has raged for many years in academe over ways of knowing: quantitative, qualitative, phenomenological, existential, explanatory, experiential, inductive, deductive, sensory, logical, constructivist, deconstructivist, authoritative, intuitive/inspirational, diverse/ multicultural, female/male. UNH committed in its Academic Plan to an inquiry-based, questioning pedagogy that embraces the universe of ways of knowing. Discovery is its core.

Educational reformer Ted Sizer has said: “A wise school’s goal is to get its students into good intellectual habits. Just which habits can be grist for properly endless debate.” I think UNH has decided which habits of mind we will choose to nurture in our students through the “Discovery Program” general education curriculum and through our commitment to inquiry and original research by undergraduates. UNH students will develop, through a thirst for discovery, what Sizer calls the habit of perspective, the habit of analysis, the habit of empathy, and the habit of communication.

The Discovery Program is the outgrowth of a series of faculty-led initiatives that established the Discovery Program Advisory Committee in the fall of 2004. Composed of faculty and staff, this group is now working on implementation.

We are making good progress in the first-year experience. Today’s incoming students can opt to participate in one of 40 Inquiry Seminars. Defined by small class size and characterized by inter-disciplinary thought, discussion, and debate, this growing program lays the groundwork for future inquiry-based learning. Students learn how to learn according to a paradigm that celebrates the hands-on, take charge, active pursuit of knowledge. Discovery is the way of knowing.

This fall, first-year students will also participate in “Where in the world is UNH? A University Dialogue on Globalization.” As I mentioned earlier, you are invited to attend its debut at the upcoming Academic Convocation. Throughout the year, papers written by the first group of faculty Discovery Authors will form the springboard for a yearlong conversation that examines this topic from a host of perspectives. The goal? Engaging students in a dynamic, intellectual exchange and scholarly exploration that will ultimately help them grow as people, as thinkers, and as global citizens.

The implementation of the Discovery general education program beyond the first-year experience is the next task in our six-year plan. Extensive guidelines for new categories are being finalized by the Discovery Program Advisory Committee, and the work has begun on re-conceptualizing current general education courses as revised Discovery offerings. Discussion begins at the September 12th Faculty Senate meeting.

We have taken a significant step in our evolution that will move students from the requirement “check-off” mentality of the “shopping mall” of general education, to pro-active course selections more closely aligned with individual academic aspirations.

Increased focus, intensity, and integration extend to intercollege programs, as well. The Honors Program is redefining excellence through discovery. Faculty leaders are structuring its criteria to allow students to be further challenged and to set higher goals for themselves. Students who aspire to continue their research after graduation, perhaps as Fulbright Fellows, can now take advantage of our new Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship Advising Office. The UROP and IROP programs continue to grow, expanded through the generosity of a substantial private donation and now offered through the Center for Undergraduate Research. The Center for Teaching Excellence is a valuable resource for faculty who desire to enhance their experience through innovative teaching approaches. The Writing Center is a similar resource for students.

We seek to expand the number of students who participate in international study and to broaden the diversity of their opportunities. The Center for International Education links coursework with unforgettable experiences. We have what Nannerl Keohane called “the marvelous combination of being rooted in a specific region and being very ambitious in reaching out to the entire world…. [New Hampshire] is a magnificent place to come and study because [students] will have a sense of feeling at home and a sense of community, but also a very strong sense that the whole world is part of their educational arena.” This combination of grounding in our region’s unique nature and reaching out to the world must become a reality for more students. All UNH students should get and use a passport during their years of study here.

The University of New Hampshire continues to be an extraordinary setting for the acquisition of and creation of new knowledge, the search for a better way of life for all people, and the exploration and expression of the creativity of the human spirit. Many inspirational and difficult tasks lie before us. I will note just a few of these.

Among the most important tasks we face this year is the successful negotiation of a new contract with the University of New Hampshire chapter of the American Association of University Professors. Our three-year faculty contract expires at the end of this year. As Provost Mallory said in a letter to the faculty this spring: “…the University has achieved its long-held goal of fair and equitable faculty salaries with respect to our New England and national peer institutions…. We have made significant progress in the current contract period. I believe this progress is the result of the commitment of both parties in our last round of negotiations to the achievement of a fair, equitable, and competitive compensation structure for the faculty.” In the strongest possible terms I want to emphasize that I am fully committed to the partnership and process that made our last negotiation so successful under the leadership of faculty and administration team members.

We must continue to confront the “structural deficit” in our budget. Staff, faculty, and administration leaders are working on ways in which we can continue to slow projected expense increases and direct as many of our scarce resources as possible into the core academic activities of the University.

The five-year review of Responsibility Center Management (RCM) currently underway will be completed this year, and I will move to implement changes indicated by that review. Unquestionably, this task is directly related to the ongoing efforts I just mentioned to manage our scarce resources wisely and prudently with a focus on our core mission.

During the coming year, we will complete the program displacement review of the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture and take the necessary steps to act on that review to restructure the college for a bright and vibrant future. I want to emphasize that the life sciences and agriculture have a strong future at UNH.

We welcome two new Deans. Dean Joseph Klewicki of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and Dean Kristen Woolever of UNH Manchester will lead their divisions into the future.

I am pleased that Wendy Keeney will be joining us as president of the University of New Hampshire Foundation. In the coming year, we will complete the planning for the silent phase of our next capital campaign.

To reinforce and support the growing excellence in and emphasis on discovery at UNH, I am devoting $400,000 of the President’s Fund for Excellence this year to a strategic investment in faculty research, scholarship, and creative work. Vice President John Aber will soon be releasing a call for proposals for awards of up to $20,000 to be granted on a competitive basis, with larger awards possible for interdisciplinary faculty teams. These awards will leverage additional support from other sources and lead to ongoing, extramurally funded research. They will also create opportunities for new or untenured faculty to advance their scholarship and spark promising new areas of inquiry.

The future of UNH continues to be imbedded in the life and culture of New Hampshire, the nation, and the world. Good relationships across the state are critical to that future, and I will continue to work to represent you and all you do to our broad community through extended County Conversations plus ongoing work with state government and community leaders. The world is our home as well, so we must do everything we can to keep that world front and center in the lives of our students. International research and study grounded in the home we love—this should be an aspiration for all of our students.

This is a beautiful campus, and we will make it even more welcoming and beautiful! The new and renewed buildings currently rising out of the New Hampshire granite will be joined by other great building projects in the near future. Most immediately, we will complete the first phase of Kingsbury Hall, finish construction at the Gables residence halls, and plan the renovation of Demeritt Hall.

Live the Questions: What are yours?

Dialogue and debate are central to the Discovery way of knowing to which the faculty, students, and staff of UNH will commit their energies in the coming years. Energetic debates sometimes escalate to a level of conflict that is uncomfortable and test our resolve to support the values of academic freedom and inquiry. These roiling debates certainly test our ability to be calm and respectful, even as we express views with intensity. The issues we will confront at the University of New Hampshire are complex, and the incredible range of belief and opinion sometimes appears as an unbridgeable chasm between us.

We are committed, and the work of faculty and academic leaders stands as proof of that commitment, to master the knowledge of the past and create new knowledge through inquiry-based pedagogy and the spirit of Discovery. We will “live the questions” and grow by doing so. (Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, http://www. ellopos.net/education/writersword_rilke_letter.htm)

Even as debates rage and new knowledge disconcerts and awes us, we must nurture habits of mind that promote our ability to discover—with eyes wide open—the habit of perspective, the habit of analysis, the habit of empathy, and the habit of communication. To paraphrase a Native American proverb, we must “listen, or our tongues will make us deaf.” At the University of New Hampshire, we will listen to the past, the present, and the future, exemplifying the spirit of Discovery in all that we do. I look forward with excitement to the coming year of Discovery as a partner with all of you.