Concord Coalition

Mark W. Huddleston

Concord Coalition
Introductory Remarks
November 18, 2010

Good morning. I’m Mark Huddleston, president of the University of New Hampshire. I am delighted to welcome you to Sustainable Future: How Can our Nation Turn the Corner on the Economy and Environment and Can NH Lead the Way? That’s a big title…with a big agenda!

So what is today about? Well, it’s about preparing for the future. In a few short months, the presidential primary season will begin and New Hampshire will be awash in candidates and the media, bringing a lot of attention to our state. When this happens, we can be spectators who allow ourselves to be swept up in the hubbub, or we can prepare ourselves to shape the debate. 

Today, in other words, is about taking advantage of a moment of great opportunity for New Hampshire citizens.

Notice that the title of today’s event is framed as two questions. In addressing the first question, today is about crossing boundaries in the pursuit of ideas and solutions for achieving fiscal responsibility. How can we as a community, state, and nation live within our means? If the Great Recession has taught us anything at all, it’s that we cannot live beyond our means…

Today is also about exploring how we might better use natural resources in ways that sustain economic development while encouraging environmental stewardship. These two goals may once have been considered antithetical. But again, if the last five years have taught us anything, it is that fiscal and environmental sustainability represent two sides of the same precious coin.

The Concord Coalition and the Whittemore School at UNH are ideal partners for organizing a discussion such as this one, which strives to be both nonpartisan and solutions-oriented. After all, the Concord Coalition was established in 1992 by New Hampshire Republican Warren Rudman and Massachusetts Democrat Paul Tsongas, who shared a passion to bring issues of high national importance to the local stage, such as we have here today.

The University of New Hampshire earned its sustainability credentials when its ECOLine program made UNH the first university in the country to use landfill gas as its primary fuel source. I’ll repeat now what I said in 2007: reducing the University’s dependence on fossil fuels and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions makes ECOLine an environmentally AND fiscally responsible initiative. UNH is proud to lead the nation and our peer institutions in this landmark step toward sustainability.

The Whittemore School is incorporating sustainability into its curriculum and programs and partnering with other schools at UNH and the public and private sectors on the Green Launching Pad initiative. For those of you who haven’t heard of the Green Launching Pad, it’s a business accelerator program—based at the Whittemore School—that helps emerging businesses in N.H. bring green technologies to market. It’s now in its second year and, following the current round of applications, will soon number a dozen firms on its roster.

So…this brings us to the second question posed by today’s panel discussions: “How can N.H. lead the way?” How can Granite Staters help to frame the upcoming debates that will begin right here as our first-in-the-nation primary kicks off? We can do so by holding events exactly like this one, where hard thinking and real-world experiences rather than frenetic sound bites are the tools we use to answer important questions.

While we will hear presentations today, we’ll also ask you to join the discussion by helping to define the two questions everybody should ask of the presidential candidates, regardless of political party. That should be a very interesting exercise!

At this time, I would like to acknowledge some of the movers behind today’s event, beginning with the organizers:

  • Bob Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, and his colleague Jeff Thiebert, the Concord Coalition’s northeast director;
  • Dan Innis, the dean of the Whittemore School, and his colleague Ross Gittell, James R. Carter Professor and Professor of Management; and
  • J. Bonnie Newman, who combines in one remarkable individual, a former UNH president, a former president of the Business and Industry Association of N.H., and a former administrative operations chief for a president named George H.W. Bush.

 

Let’s give them a hand. I would also like to thank Sally Ward, dean of UNH Manchester, and her staff for hosting this event. And now, I’ll turn over the microphone to Professor Ross Gittell.

Thank you.

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Concluding remarks
I don’t think anything quite like this has been undertaken in New Hampshire. And based on what I’ve seen here this morning…and this afternoon, I believe we’ve made strides—in no small part thanks to your investments of time, energy, and intelligence. Please join me in giving another round of applause to our panelists and event organizers.

Let’s keep the conversation going. Let’s talk about these ideas in our schools, workplaces, and campuses. The University of New Hampshire will actively participate in keeping these issues front and center and we look forward to working with all of you in the months to come.