State of the University 2012
Mark W. Huddleston
President, University of New Hampshire
October 11, 2012
Granite State Room, Memorial Union Building
Welcome. Thank you for joining us here today and thanks, too, to all of you who are watching in Manchester, Concord and online.
Before we even begin, I want to ask you a favor. If during this address, you see me staring at the podium, taking little notes, not looking at you, at least occasionally, please interrupt. I was watching something on TV last week where that was happening, I don’t remember what, but it really didn’t seem like a good audience engagement strategy.
Anyway, what a beautiful day. The rain has stopped, the sun is shining, and the leaves are at their peak! Is there anything better than fall in New Hampshire? If you’re not a political enthusiast, I suppose you would say that the only thing better than fall in New Hampshire is fall in New Hampshire in a year that isn’t divisible by four. But not me. Junk mail and junk commercials aside, I am actually delighted that New Hampshire is a battleground state this year. I LIKE campaigns.
In fact, UNH is in the middle of not one – but FOUR – high-stakes campaigns right now. These are, perhaps, a little quieter than the campaigns we’re seeing on TV, but they are campaigns that will prove more enduring and more meaningful for our campus and our communities.
As a consequence, I’d like to use these four campaigns as the scaffolding, the organizing bones, of my report on the state of the university to you today.
Most of you are already familiar with the first of these campaigns: UNH 2020, our long range strategic plan, now in its third year. When we launched this 10-year plan, we challenged ourselves to “reimagine” UNH. I’ll describe how we are doing that – and doing it exceptionally well.
The Strategic Plan’s success has laid a strong foundation for our second major effort: A comprehensive fundraising campaign. You have heard already that this was a record-setting year for private philanthropy at UNH. Indeed it was. But our success this year is only a taste of what is in store.
We launched our third campaign just a few weeks ago, a campaign that we call UNH Works for New Hampshire. This is our drive to persuade the state Legislature to restore the nearly $50 million in funding they cut from the university system’s budget.
Finally, we are well along in a campaign to restructure governance within the University System of New Hampshire. This is a campaign that may on its face seem esoteric, but it is, in fact, critical to our future.
I’ll tell you about each of these campaigns in more detail in a minute, but first let me address several preliminary “Why” questions:
Why are we still pushing so hard on a 10-year strategy to reimagine UNH?
Why are we undertaking an aggressive, multi-year fundraising drive?
Why are we fighting harder than ever for state support?
Why are we seeking greater control over our own destiny through reforms of university governance?
And why, for heaven’s sake, are we tackling all of these things at once?
I have spent hours at my desk trying to figure out how best to explain UNH—who we are and why we do what we do—to our many constituencies—legislators, parents, alumni, the business community, prospective students and so forth. I’ve amassed data, created charts, constructed what I think are compelling arguments, but there always seemed to be something missing.
Then, one day last week I realized – as we often do in these situations – that the answer, the missing ingredient, was literally sitting right in front of me.
Her name is Ali Fortin.
This fall, Ali joined the president’s office as a work-study student, one of many we’ve hired over the years. Invariably, these students are bright, hard-working, articulate and polite—like most UNH students, in fact.
Ali is all of these things—and more.
She grew up in Manchester, and graduated last year from Central High, a large public high school where she was an outstanding student-athlete and community volunteer. If you visit my office, Ali will be the one with long reddish-brown hair. I’m the one with the slight flecks of gray in my temples . . .
By the way, Ali is growing her hair out so that she can donate it to a program that provides cancer patients with wigs made with real human hair. At age 19, this will be Ali seventh time donating her hair – an effort she started when she was in second grade.
That’s pretty impressive.
I offered up my own hair but nobody wanted the graying temples.
I was also impressed to learn that Ali took college courses when she was still in high school, at a reduced rate through her local community college. So, by the time she came to UNH, Ali had already earned a full year’s worth of college credits. Now, she is on track to graduate in three years from our bio-medical sciences pre-med program.
That pace will save Ali and her family a good deal of money. And that’s an especially good thing in her case, because both of Ali parents were unemployed for more than a year before she came to UNH.
Now, think about that for a minute: I know that Ali family is extremely close and mutually supportive, but can you imagine what those dinner table conversations must’ve been like as she was contemplating applying to college? All of them knowing what it would cost?
Well, Ali’s here, and I’m happy to report that she is thriving at UNH. She has her sights set on medical school, and plans to become a pediatrician. And she will pay for all this with scholarships, financial aid – and substantial student loans.
I am delighted that Ali and her parents are here today, and would ask her to stand and be recognized.
We all wish you well, Ali.
So, why have I talked so much about Ali Fortin today?
Because Ali—and the thousands of other UNH students who come to us with similarly compelling stories—are why we all do what we do. They and their families are why we work so hard, care so deeply about student success, fight the good fights—and launch challenging, interconnected campaigns.
They are why we are changing so much of what we do at UNH. They are inspiring our donors and friends to step up their financial support for this great institution. They are driving our efforts to tell state lawmakers that support for public higher education is the right thing to do for all of New Hampshire. And they are the reason that UNH is pressing to create policies and procedures that allow us to be nimble and market smart.
Thinking about these students keeps us focused and gives us the grit we need to overcome our institutional challenges—rising costs, a stale economy, disruptive technologies, increased competition and a shrinking population of traditional, college-age students. As I’ve said before, the future is rushing at us even faster than we imagined when we launched the strategic plan less than three years ago. But with Ali and her classmates in mind, we will not shrink from our central mission, which is to provide access to a vibrant, high quality, affordable educational experience at an outstanding public research university.
So, let me tell you how our four campaigns will drive our success in achieving our mission.
When we launched the Strategic Plan—UNH 2020--we knew we had our work cut out for us. We still do. But we also have chalked up some real successes—and by “we,” I mean everyone in the UNH community.
In fact, since it was launched, the Strategic Plan has inspired 142 program initiatives, some 100 of which have completed one or more phases. You’ll be disappointed to know that I am not going to cover all 142 here this afternoon.
But I will give you seven markers of progress.
First, we really are starting to bend the cost curve, making UNH more affordable and accessible. We are doing this in part by continuing to be frugal Yankees and cutting costs whenever and wherever possible. But more importantly we are doing it by innovating, and specifically, to use the phrase from the strategic plan, by reimagining time and space.
By earning college credits in high school, during January Term and Summer Session, and online through eUNH, or by getting a start at one of our partner community colleges, more traditional and nontraditional students can come to UNH, graduate on time – and start their careers with smaller student loans. In a state with the highest per-student loan debt in the nation, that matters!
By being online and year-round, we are adapting to new forms of pedagogy. In fact, we now offer more than 130 courses in Summer Term and J-Term. Through eUNH, we offer more than 100 courses, including our new online MBA. These courses make us more effective, efficient, and competitive. Using our beautiful campus all year long is just common sense. And leveraging technology gives our great faculty more time for close and direct interactions with students.
Later this month, I will be announcing a Presidential Commission, led by Provost John Aber, that will look at ways we can further use emerging technologies and free courseware to enhance the quality and flexibility of our offerings, and to make even better use of our space and time here on campus.
Talk to students like Ali, and you will see that these efforts are helping them to pay for college, to fit a UNH education into their busy lives, to achieve their career goals, and to serve their communities.
A second marker of progress is that we are increasingly international. As you walk around campus now, you’ll hear not only distinctive New England intonations, with “r’s” dropped and added to words seemingly at random, at least to my ear. You’ll also hear the languages and accents of students from around the world. The Strategic Plan called on us to increase our global reach, and we have done just that. And it’s exciting.
Our partnership with Navitas, for instance, has seen international enrollment just from this source grow from 7 to 164 new students, representing 12 countries, in just two years. And we’re just getting started..
Likewise, the Confucius Institute, our collaboration with Chengdu University in Sichuan Province, brings Chinese faculty to UNH and offers our campuses and broader communities manifold opportunities to learn about Chinese language and culture and social and economic issues.
A third marker of progress is that we are investing in our human capital. The long-sought agreement with the AAUP has improved our ability to recruit and retain the outstanding faculty who are the heart of a UNH education. Now, we are developing an approach to compensation and incentives that will accomplish the same for staff.
The Research and Engagement Academy is another important contributor in building faculty capacity– and ensuring success. With the help of a $200,000 strategic investment from internal funds, the academy’s faculty participants have been awarded $5.7 million in external funding to advance their scholarship and engagement with our partners. That’s a great return on investment—although it still pales in comparison to what the state of New Hampshire gets from its small investment in public higher education.
These extramural dollars have paid huge dividends for our students. Last April, for instance, more than 300 UNH faculty mentors supported the annual Undergraduate Research Conference. With 1,100 students presenting their scholarly research, the URC remains the largest undergraduate conference of its kind in the nation.
In fact, I saw a statistic earlier this week that indicates that approximately one out of every twelve UNH students receives support from an external research grant, with an average award in excess of $2,300. That should give pause to anyone inclined to criticize the UNH research mission.
Here’s a fourth marker of progress: We are demonstrably innovative. UNH achieved $160 million in research expenditures and a doubling of invention disclosures in the last fiscal year. And that’s a milestone that every college and institute—from CEPS to COLA to EOS and beyond—shares credit for.
These grants will allow UNH researchers to explore energy from the ocean, manufacturing on a tiny scale, and speedier computer planning. That’s heady stuff -- with high-impact potential. It’s not just the monetary reward we celebrate. These grants are independent validation of the creativity and accomplishment of our faculty.
In fact, in February, three UNH faculty members received $1.3 million in prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Awards from the National Science Foundation.
A fifth marker of progress is our continuing deep engagement with those beyond the bounds of our campuses.
Citizens, communities and businesses across New Hampshire know that UNH researchers, students, and staff are working for them, too.
Travel anywhere in the state and you can find UNH experts helping to improve lives.
Students and faculty from UNH law routinely provide pro bono assistance to vulnerable and underserved populations.
In the North Country, there is scarcely a family-owed farm that cannot credit the UNH Cooperative Extension with helping them succeed, feed our state, and protect our agricultural heritage.
Here on the Seacoast, Extension experts help bring locally and sustainably caught fish to market. And at good prices for fishermen and consumers alike.
Enterprising UNH student groups have extended our reach with dozens of community service projects, such as Warmth from the Millyard, Trash 2 Treasure, Relay for Life, and Aspiring Hands. Through Aspiring Hands, for instance, some 100 UNH student volunteers regularly travel to the Somersworth Youth Safe Haven. There, they mentor public school students and offer homework assistance, teach skills for healthy living, and organize a community garden project.
A sixth marker of progress: we are entrepreneurial. Certainly, the most visible symbol of our work to promote entrepreneurial education, research and partnerships is the new Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, arising now in my backyard. I’ll really miss it when I’m not awoken early Sunday mornings to the beep-beep-beep of a forklift moving in reverse. Anyway, I hope you all take a tour—or even better—become engaged when this remarkable project opens its doors next semester, because the Paul College will immediately become not only the hub for students and faculty engaged in teaching and learning about business and economics, but a crossroads of innovation for everyone in the UNH family with an idea they want to bring to market.
The UNH School of Law is also part of this entrepreneurial fabric. The Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property, ensconced in a beautiful new wing of the law school, is globally recognized for its pioneering work with industries and governments around the world. A dual MBA/JD degree program is now entering its second year, and similar joint degrees with other colleges are in the works. This is a model for the kinds of interdisciplinary programs that have been inspired by the Strategic Plan.
In May, we joined with the Community College System of New Hampshire in a commitment to increase the number of graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math – the so-called “STEM” disciplines. We pledged to double the number of STEM graduates by 2025.
That’s a tough challenge—especially considering the gaps that already exist in certain fields. By some estimates, for instance, we are already 1,000 software engineers short of the needs of New Hampshire businesses. Daunting as it may be, however, this is a challenge we must meet to keep New Hampshire’s economy competitive.
Part of our response to that challenge is unfolding at our campus in Manchester, where we have now expanded into the historic Pandora Mill building. This 22,000-square-foot space will become home to our computing technology and engineering programs as well as the UNH Graduate School’s Manchester campus.
We also welcomed a new dean to Manchester, Ali Rafieymher, who brings a combination of academic and industry experience that will carry our urban campus to the next level of excellence. Ali, can you please stand, so that we can recognize you and thank you for joining us in Durham today?
A final marker of progress is our sustainability. At UNH, sustainability is part of our DNA – and is embodied in everything we do, from how we teach to how we take care of our campus, to how we conduct research and support businesses and technology.
We all think UNH is pretty cool – and Sierra magazine now thinks so, too. Recently, this prestigious national journal concluded that UNH is one of the nation’s top 10 “coolest schools.” Fortunately, this had nothing to do with Friday parties at various locations on and off campus and everything to do with how we fight climate change in particular and promote sustainability more generally.
Now, all of what I just outlined involves just one campaign – and even that only scratches the surface. But you can relax now, because I promise to be briefer in talking about our three other campaigns. That’s an applause line . . .
Anyway, you’ve all heard me mention our plan to launch a comprehensive fundraising campaign for UNH – a campaign that will be precedent setting in its reach and transformative for our culture.
But you have not heard many details about this campaign. And that’s because campaigns of this nature always start with an intensive quiet phase that requires careful planning and systematic research. In fact, I have to swear everyone to secrecy before I can say anything further.
Just kidding. I can assure you, however, that UNH Advancement is working with great diligence, energy and expertise to lay the groundwork for this campaign – from developing the vital messages we must convey to building the extensive and sophisticated databases we need to connect us appropriately with alumni and friends.
I’m also delighted that we recently brought Debbie Dutton on board to oversee this campaign as our new Vice President for University Advancement. Unfortunately, Debbie is ill today and couldn’t be here. But when you have a chance, introduce yourself. She’s terrific.
Here are a few examples of why I’m excited and optimistic about the momentum we’re building:
Last spring, a generous gift of $1.2 million from UNH alumni Craig and Linda Rydin established critical scholarship funds for students who live in the city of Berlin, New Hampshire. Both Craig and Linda grew up in Berlin, and Linda’s father,Ralph Labnon, was a tireless advocate of the North Country. The Rydins’ gift honors both their hometown and their family history—and provides opportunities for generations of students to come.
In May, nearly 300 members of the Class of 2012 contributed to the Senior Class Gift, making this the most successful such effort in UNH history. Some of these donations were only a few dollars, but they represent our students’ pride in UNH and their willingness to become lifetime contributors. Thankfully, this year I only had to make a video with Fake Prez Huddleston of Twitter fame and didn’t have to wear a lobster suit. The class gift was a great show of support—but like everything else regarding UNH philanthropy, it was just the beginning. Each year we are going to have to raise the bar. At some point soon, those 300 graduating contributors need to be 3,000 graduating contributors.,
In June, Jo Lamprey, a friend of UNH who lives on the Seacoast, stepped forward with a generous gift to underwrite annually, for the next five years, a Fellowship in Climate and Sustainability. This gift will support Research Associate Professor Cameron Wake in researching the critical issues of climate and energy, biodiversity and ecosystems, food systems and culture. Jo’s commitment became the catalyst for a second gift. In August, Tom Haas, also a UNH friend from the Seacoast, made a $1 million gift to endow the Thomas W. Haas Professorship in Sustainable Food Systems.
In September, we learned that UNH will receive a generous bequest from the estate of Marilynn Rumley, Class of 1952. Marilynn was a zoology major here, and enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a research scientist at Harvard. Marilynn’s foresight will, I know, inspire others. In fact, planned gifts will be crucial to the success of this campaign.
This year, the UNH Parents Association became part of our Advancement team and it is inspiring our parents to become actively engaged with our community as volunteers, advocates through UNH Works and, yes, even contributors. Indeed, many of our parents understand tuition and fees and state dollars alone do not cover the real costs of a UNH education. The margin of excellence we provide is a function of the generosity of generations of alumni and friends who have gone before—the predecessors of Craig and Linda Rydin, Jo Lamprey, Tom Haas and others.
Here in Durham, I was delighted to see so many UNH staff and faculty who are also alumni join Emma and me for an open reception at the president’s house last spring. Events like this reflect the deep sense of pride we share throughout the UNH community.
Our Advancement team has also reached out to and engaged with many UNH alumni all over the country who had lost touch with us. Today, many of them are sharing their enthusiasm among their professional and social networks of fellow alumni—and some, I suspect, are watching this address online now.
Speaking of modern technology, we are engaging alumni and friends at every level with new social media tools. I doubt that any of you are checking your iPhones right now, but when you turn them back on I urge you to find us on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+ and YouTube. Though do be careful. My own Twitter account was hacked recently. If you got a direct message seeming to come from me offering to sell you an iPad cheap—it wasn’t me and I hope you didn’t do it. Anyway, I am appropriately chastened and moved to announce that I am celebrating October, along with the rest of the nation, as National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
These signs of progress in developing our Advancement effort demonstrate the value of the strategic investment we have been making in this professional team.
Our ability to mobilize the support of our alumni, parents and friends in the ways I have cited is the reason why this past year was one of the best fundraising years in UNH history. Gifts and pledges were up more than 77 percent from the previous fiscal year, for a total of $22.5 million.
That just hints at what’s ahead for us. This year’s goal for gifts and pledges is $28 million, and every year, as I said earlier, we will raise the bar. So, stay tuned. The momentum is building, and the excitement for UNH that this campaign is creating is truly inspiring. People give to UNH because they believe in UNH – and we are finding and inspiring more believers every day.
Our third campaign is not only one I want you to support – it’s one EVERYONE in New Hampshire should support.
UNH Works is our campaign to persuade the Legislature to restore support for our public colleges and universities. I encourage you to learn about this campaign and even to sign up to be advocates for UNH Works – which you can do at unh.edu/works. With your help, we will carry a strong and unmissable message straight to the State House in Concord.
This campaign is new ground for us. In fact, its scope and intensity is unprecedented for the University System – but our challenge in the Legislature also has been unprecedented.
This campaign is about showing our state’s elected leaders that keeping UNH affordable and accessible is critically important, not only to thousands of students and their families, but to all New Hampshire.
Here’s some background. And please forgive me if you’ve heard this before, but I have to say it out loud on a regular basis because it’s so hard to believe. In 2011, the New Hampshire Legislature cut funding for UNH by nearly 50 percent. That was the deepest single cut to public higher education in American history. Period. I like setting records as much as anyone, but this one we all could have done without.
UNH now receives just 6 percent of our budget from the state – that’s the lowest level of support per capita for public higher education in the nation. And if you doubled that, we’d still be dead last. It’s true!
Now, consider this: New Hampshire enjoys one of our nation’s lowest unemployment rates. We are also consistently ranked as having one of the nation’s healthiest economies – an economy that depends in large part, by the way, on innovation-driven productivity and the existence of a highly skilled and educated workforce.
Does it makes sense, then, that a relatively well-off state like New Hampshire, whose greatest resources are its skilled workers and its innovation-driving colleges and universities, should slash support for public higher education? Please. Think about that for a nanosecond or two. From any perspective—from the perspective of the business community, from the perspective of the broader public good, from the perspective of Ali’s parents—the answer is, “Uh, No!”
No one who knows anything about economic development thinks that the way to prosperity is through disinvestment from education. Not surprisingly then, independent experts who study New Hampshire's economy, demographics and policy say that New Hampshire must invest in higher education to remain competitive with other states and to promote sustainable growth.
Let me quote from a recent report by the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, entitled, From Tailwind to Headwind: New Hampshire's Shifting Economic Trends. Its concluding statement reads: "States and regions other than New Hampshire are undertaking public policy initiatives to pursue more economic growth. These policies range from investing in post-secondary education and training and research and development to targeting specific industries in recruitment strategies."
And perhaps you read the story in Foster's Daily Democrat last week, which began – and I quote: "A report showing declines in state funding has the National Science Board concerned over whether major research universities in the country, including the University of New Hampshire, will be able to provide affordable quality education and training to its students enrolled in science programs."
As you can see, even experts well outside of the UNH community point to an investment in higher education as an important tool in developing the talent that supports the economy.
We know that UNH contributes $1.4 billion to the New Hampshire economy each year. And our impact is statewide.
We know that we do this by operating efficiently, incredibly efficiently.
Compared to our peers, UNH delivers courses 30 percent more cost effectively. We secure more federal research grants per capita (of full-time faculty) than any other land-grant university in New England.
We deliver real value that New Hampshire’s businesses, public schools, communities, hospitals, families and workers depend on. Within the fields of engineering, engineering technology, and computer science, for example, UNH graduates 58 percent of the baccalaureate degrees and 52 percent of the graduate degrees in the state. Finally, UNH is consistently ranked in the top 5 to 10 percent nationally in graduation performance.
So, here’s the nub of our campaign in Concord: If the Legislature restores the base funding of $100 million to the University System, we pledge to freeze in-state tuition for the next biennium, increase significantly scholarships and grants that attract and retain New Hampshire's best and brightest students, and ensure that they can graduate on time, with the skills necessary to work and contribute to the state’s future.
The final campaign, which is the campaign for greater autonomy for UNH within the framework of the University System of New Hampshire, may, as I mentioned earlier, seem a bit esoteric or arcane.
But nothing could be further from the truth. This campaign is just as crucial for our institutional success—and for the prospects of students like Ali—as our strategic plan, our fundraising or our advocacy for state support.
UNH, like many flagship public institutions, has long been embedded in a structure of governance that has its roots in another era, the days of robust public funding and near zero-tuition of higher education in the 1960s—the hey days of the University of California system and the State University of New York.
But truly robust public funding is probably a thing of the past—no matter how successful our advocacy campaign. The world of higher education today is turbulent, fast moving, and highly competitive. UNH is in a marketplace—really a set of marketplaces—with institutions (and non-institutions), private and public, for profit and not for profit, that can and do turn on the proverbial dime, whose overhead costs are low, and that have governance structures that facilitate both mission centric and market smart behavior.
This year, thanks to far-sighted leadership from the University System Board of Trustees, UNH is joining the ranks of institutions that have governance processes adapted to their competitive circumstances. We are on the cusp of realizing far greater autonomy in a system of far less central control. This will give us—and our sister institutions--the ability to devise programs and make critical financial and human resource decisions in 21st century time.
That will greatly increase opportunities and materially reduce costs for Ali and her classmates.
So, please join me in these important campaigns:
• Continue to strive to realize the strategic initiatives of UNH 2020.
• Help us raise the private dollars that create the margin of excellence for UNH.
• Spread the word that UNH works for New Hampshire and that we warrant the state’s support! The elections are just 26 days away, so please visit unh.edu/works and learn how to contact the candidates for state office. And when the elections are over, reach out again to the victors.
• And support the autonomy that will enable UNH to compete in the marketplace of a new era.
But these campaigns aside, I want to thank you all for your hard work, your imagination and your dedication.
We have been through a difficult patch here at the University of New Hampshire. I don’t have to remind you that last year at this time, we were having a painful conversation about how to close an enormous budgetary hole created by the cut in our state appropriation. Since then, our financial position has stabilized—not because we got lucky and won some institutional lottery, but because everyone pitched in, sacrificed, worked harder and smarter, and always remembered that this journey is really about Ali and her fellow students
We are not out of the woods, by the way. In the current environment of higher education, we’ll never really be wholly out of the woods. But we’ll never be lost either if we continue to work together as a community and do what UNH does best—make magic happen by producing excellence seemingly out of thin air.
So let’s celebrate a great year and an even greater future.
Now, I encourage you all to mingle here and enjoy some light refreshments. And I also hope to see you at one of our biggest celebrations of the year -- UNH Homecoming—three days of parades, bonfires, athletic events and recognitions of academic achievement.
Hope to see you there, cheering on the Wildcats – and each other.