State of the University 2014
Mark W. Huddleston
President, University of New Hampshire
Feb. 4, 2014
Welcome, everyone. It’s great to be here! Thank you for joining us in Durham, and for tuning in via live video streaming at our campuses in Manchester and Concord, across the Granite State and beyond.
Before I begin, let me ask: Did anyone in our audience today attend the State of the University address a few years ago, in 2011? Can I have a show of hands? Anyone? Wow. And you came back!? You must be gluttons for punishment. Or maybe you’re longtime Red Sox fans and you know that eternal optimism really does pay off now and then.
In either case, for those who weren’t here, let me point out that I did not begin my 2011 address by saying, “It’s great to be here!”
Instead, I said that fall is a beautiful season on our campuses. That's a safe statement, after all, and it’s always true.
But in 2011, I also tried to describe the atmosphere of the previous year at UNH. And I said it felt like we had just survived a hurricane.
Unfortunately, that was also true. Those were tough times. They tested our resolve, and UNH’s character, to the core.
UNH was not alone, of course.
Our state and our nation were swept up in the aftermath of a terrible global recession. Many of our students’ parents were understandably more worried about losing their jobs, or seeing their businesses go under, than they were about what was happening to UNH. In fact, I am sure that everyone in this room has family members, friends and neighbors who continue to struggle in an economic recovery that has been anything but robust.
Against that backdrop, New Hampshire’s four-year public universities and colleges – which were already dead last in the nation in public funding – suffered the deepest cut to state funding in the history of higher education in the United States. A cut of nearly 50 percent. Think about that for a moment.
Before the cut, New Hampshire was famously 50 out of 50 in per capita support for higher education. After the cut, we're scrambling for new metrics: How is New Hampshire doing vis-a-vis Albania, for instance?
Seriously, even if we saw a tripling of state support--and I'm not holding my breath for that--New Hampshire would still be 50th out of 50 states.
For UNH, this perfect storm of declining public support and a poor economy necessitated comprehensive, and painful, cost-saving measures across our campuses. In addition to salary and hiring freezes, our community saw some colleagues lose their jobs as positions were eliminated.
And while I am proud that we worked tremendously hard to protect our students, in-state tuition still increased as a result of lost state support.
It is impossible to put a feel-good spin on that.
Thankfully, we have come a long way since. And I am delighted to report that we have a lot more to feel good about today than the weather.
So, as we meet on this beautiful and brisk February afternoon, I can say with complete sincerity, “It’s great to be here!”
We really do have a lot to celebrate as we enter 2014.
The credit for that goes to you, our dedicated faculty, staff, alumni, friends and especially to our students and their families. You not only helped us survive the storm in 2011 – you are why UNH is thriving.
Today, your accomplishments continue to inspire unprecedented support for UNH on behalf of everyone we serve. So, I thank you. We have come a long, long way together in a few short years.
By the way, let me add that the most remarkable action we took during the recession was not that we reduced spending and survived. Far from it.
Instead, it was how our community rallied and moved ahead with innovation, efficiency, nimbleness and ingenuity. We stepped up the pace of the 10-year Strategic Plan, which we’ll talk more about in a few minutes. We sought and gained greater autonomy within the University System. We launched bold new initiatives and partnerships that are now benefiting our students and New Hampshire’s economy. Today, these efforts are helping to control our costs and to make UNH as affordable as possible for our students.
I know it’s hard to stop and look back when you’re charging forward. But let’s take a few minutes to do that. Here are a few highlights:
- Following the budget cut, we called on UNH families, students, alumni and friends and businesses across New Hampshire to let our lawmakers in Concord know how important UNH is to the Granite State’s success and quality of life. We launched a campaign, coordinated by Mica Stark, called UNH Works for New Hampshire. Thankfully, our elected leaders listened. In June, with leadership from Governor Hassan, they restored most – not all, but most – of our state support that was cut in 2011.
- Our board of trustees then acted swiftly to freeze in-state tuition for two years. To this day, I hear regularly from New Hampshire parents and students about how much that means to them.
- Our work to increase student access and affordability didn't stop there, however. Indeed, because UNH's efforts are so widely recognized, I was invited to attend a forum at the White House several weeks ago on expanding college opportunities for our nation’s neediest students. While there, I was sobered to learn that in a nation that prides itself on equality of opportunity and social mobility, only 9% of the young men and women in the lowest income quartile will go on to any sort of higher education. That’s simply unacceptable. For UNH's part, I announced three new efforts that day:
First, fifty $5,000 scholarships will be awarded to New Hampshire community college students who enroll at UNH with a 2-year degree.
Second, STEM Connect will increase opportunities for low-income students through a 2-week summer boot camp as well as ongoing advising and support. Last year’s pilot program with 14 students will be expanded to 50 students, increasing the number of minority and low-income students studying in the STEM disciplines.
Third, Project SMART will offer new scholarships for high-achieving high school students to explore sciences and math at UNH.
- On another front, in April, we held the grand opening of the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. One of the highlights for me was getting to slash off the top of a bottle of celebratory champagne--Peter Paul champagne, of course,--with a saber. And I'm happy to report that no one was seriously injured. Last fall, we named a distinguished business leader and UNH alumnus to serve as interim dean. Please join me in welcoming Dean Arnold Garron.
- At UNH Manchester, lots of exciting things have been happening, too. We opened the Emerging Technology Center in April and the STEM Discovery Lab in October. Last month, we received a report from the Huron Consulting group, reflecting scores of interviews with faculty, staff, and stakeholders, that launches an exciting process to bring even more focus and relevance to UNH Manchester's mission. And, equally important, we named a highly-regarded and highly-experienced New Hampshire business leader and UNH alumnus, Mike Hickey, to serve as interim dean. Please welcome Dean Hickey. By the way, I learned at the USNH board meeting last week that Mike not only served as "spirit leader" at Freshman Camp when he was at UNH back in 1970s--but that his immediate predecessor as "spirit leader" was a young fellow named John Lynch. So, Mike, I now have this somewhat disturbing image of you bounding out of your new UNHM office every morning shaking your Pompoms. But whatever works...
- This has been a busy year on our Concord campus, as well. To begin with, our Concord campus officially BECAME our Concord campus--on January 1st, to be precise, as we finished the legal closing of the law school's integration with UNH. In April, under the leadership of Dean John Broderick, the UNH School of Law opened the Rudman Center for Justice, Public Policy and Leadership, which is exciting not only for what it portends for training a new generation of leaders, but for the opportunities it offers for collaboration for students and faculty across the university. I would also note that UNH Law has just been recognized as one of the top ten clinical training programs in America. Added to a similar lofting ranking of our intellectual property programs, this helps put our law school in a strong position as it confronts the headwinds buffeting American legal education.
- In September, we pooled our existing world class programs and resources--pun intended--to launch the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering. It is the first interdisciplinary school at UNH--and it was long overdue. When I got here almost seven years ago I was struck by the strength and diversity of marine programs at UNH--and by how effectively we hid those strengths from the world by diffusing them across an array of siloed departments and colleges. No more. Drawn together into a single interdisciplinary entity, ours is already considered one of the nation’s top 10 schools for marine science and ocean engineering. This was a truly a faculty led effort, and I salute all of you for seeing this initiative through. I want especially to thank Larry Mayer for stepping forward as the School's founding director. This was a textbook case of the old adage: If you want something done, ask a busy person.
- In October, we consummated another marriage, joining our various research commercialization programs to form "UNH Innovation." This dynamic initiative, under the creative leadership of Marc Sedam, will 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. Speaking of which, I got to spend time last week with UNH math professor, Grammy Award winner and now serial entrepreneur Kevin Short. Kevin's latest venture is a company that uses his complex algorithms to solve, among other things, the so-called "cocktail party" problem of hearing aids--the issue of being unable to separate the buzz of ambient chatter from the conversation you're trying to have with a companion. For those of us of a certain age, THAT'S a UNH Innovation.
- Achievements like these create tremendous enthusiasm for The University of New Hampshire. And we can see that energy reflected in the strong culture of philanthropy we are building for UNH. Our integrated Advancement operation, ably led by Vice President Debbie Dutton, is becoming a well-oiled and effective engagement, communication, and fundraising machine. In case you missed the news last summer, during the last fiscal year, UNH set an all-time record for private support with some $36 million. That is truly remarkable.
- We are off to a great start in this fiscal year as well, with a $20 million gift in October from Marcy Carsey, an Emmy Award-winning television producer and UNH alumna. Her gift, the second-largest in UNH history, will create the new Carsey School for Public Policy. As we did with the marine school, we will build on existing institutional assets, add a dash of ingenuity and a bit of organizational redesign, and put UNH prominently on the national public affairs map.
- UNH also continues to expand its global reach. Partnerships with the University of Ghana, and Chengdu University in China, our Confucius Institute partner, continue to thrive and enrich the UNH community through study abroad programs, language programs, faculty exchanges, visiting scholars, and arts and cultural programs. International education creates life-long friendships and prepares our students to work effectively in a globalized world whatever the field of study. Building new partnerships or welcoming students from other countries will help our graduates gain skills, self reliance and a world view to compete in a global economy. Over the past three years, international enrollments at UNH have risen by nearly 250 percent, as even a casual stroll across our campuses will confirm. Today, you will find 83 countries represented at UNH. In Concord, our 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. We've also made it possible for citizens across the Granite State to become better connected with the global community, as a UNH-led public-private collaboration, called Network New Hampshire Now, completed work to add 865 miles of high speed fiber-optic cable to under-served areas in all 10 counties. And I want to thank our Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice President for Finance Joanna Young and her team for coordinating this far-reaching effort.
- Today, we can also celebrate a rich culture of diversity and inclusivity within our campus communities. In December, I was inspired to see that more than 200 people filled the Strafford Room to hear from four extraordinary UNH alumni who challenged us to look more deeply at the issues of race, equity and diversity. These leaders of the UNH Black Student Union organized a sit-in in 1998 at then-president Joan Leitzel’s office, where they sparked sweeping changes in policies to promote diversity and inclusivity. I believe those committed young people would be encouraged to know that we are taking another step to advance that cause by elevating the diversity and inclusion efforts at the university. Specifically, we are set to launch a search for the first associate Vice President for Community, Equity and Diversity at UNH. Reporting directly to my office, this person will be responsible for driving all such efforts--for students, faculty and staff. I will also take this opportunity to encourage you to take part in the opening of our 24th Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration tomorrow, with a presentation by U.S. poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey at the Paul Creative Arts Center. That’s assuming that the weather cooperates. Let’s hope her flight isn’t delayed and that the program can go on.
- This is also a wonderful year to celebrate the University’s legacy of bringing its research, talent and resources directly to people across the Granite State. The UNH Cooperative Extension--indeed, cooperative extension nationally--marks its 100th anniversary this year. From its 4-H programs to its work to support sustainable fisheries, freshwater quality, community development, and local farms and farmers markets, there’s little wonder that Extension is one of our best known, and most well-loved, outreach efforts. I am grateful--the whole state is grateful--to John Pike, his dedicated staff, and Cooperative Extension's enormous statewide volunteer network. Extension’s outstanding service to Granite Staters is even more impressive considering how they had to reorganize and reimagine their operations in the wake of state budget cuts.
- It is impossible to recognize everyone within our community whose commitment to excellence puts UNH on the map. But let me mention a few more:
- UNH mathematics lecturer Yitang “Tom” Zhang gained international acclaim for solving one of the world’s oldest problems in numbers theory. I may not grasp every nuance of the twin prime conjecture just yet--actually I don't grasp any of the nuances. But the world took notice when Tom was awarded the 2014 Frank Nelson Prize in Number Theory from the American Mathematical Society and the 2013 Ostrowski Prize.
- Jeff Bolster, an associate professor of history, won several prestigious prizes for historical writing, including the 2013 Bancroft Prize, for his book, “The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail.” As someone who reads a lot, including a lot of books, I can say that I for one read nothing this year as powerful or frankly as depressing. Based on a meticulous review of a huge array of primary sources, Jeff tells us that the current technology-fueled overfishing--a term that is hardly adequate in the circumstances--of our oceans is only the latest manifestation of centuries of abuse.
- Professor of History Ellen Fitzpatrick looked back as well, and put us in touch with the outpouring of profound grief that America and the world experienced with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In all, Jacqueline Kennedy received more than a million and a half condolence letters in the two years following her husband’s death. More recently, Ellen put her research and writing talents to work to share the remarkable story of those letters. Her book, “Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation,” was turned into a movie that aired nationally on TLC in December.
- Our students also shine when they take what they learn and create at UNH and share it with the world. A great example of that is Alex Fried. As a student, Alex created the Trash 2 Treasure program to collect used items and clothing around campus and put them back to good use. You probably remember seeing enormous tents on Main Street in August during the early incarnations of Alex's efforts. Well, Alex graduated in 2013, but he didn't leave his passion behind. Instead, he took his idea nationwide with a new nonprofit he formed called PLAN: The Post-Landfill Action Network. Expect to see tents or their equivalents popping up on campuses all over the country.
- Last month, Jennifer Lee, an English major who graduated in 1992, also focused a national spotlight on the value of a UNH liberal arts education. At the Golden Globe ceremony in Hollywood, her screenplay for and direction of the Disney movie “Frozen” won the award for Best Animated Feature.
- Finally, on the UNH Athletics playing field: Where do I begin? With the UNH field hockey team, which won the America East tournament and was ranked 16th in the nation? Or maybe the women's volleyball team, which made the NCAA tournament and finished the season with a 20-13 record. And then there was the UNH Football team, which enjoyed an incredible season, and made its first appearance ever in the semi-finals of the national championship. Without them, I might never have been able to fulfill my lifelong dream of visiting Fargo, ND in December. Seriously, I am enormously proud of all our athletes. You enliven our spirits, and are great ambassadors for a great institution.
All of the UNH highlights I just mentioned--and I'm sorry that I had to leave so many accomplishments unacknowledged--are a source of tremendous pride for the entire UNH family.
Yet all of this success also leads to a fundamental question: Where do we go from here?
I’d love nothing more than to say, "Job well done. Mission accomplished. Time to take a break."
Alas, that is not our lot. In fact, when we look at the issues facing UNH and higher ed more generally it's hard not to be apprehensive--or at least extremely attentive. The future is rushing at us--especially those of us in traditional residential colleges and universities--faster and faster and faster. Far from hitting the pause button and taking a break, we have to be prepared to act, swiftly and with wisdom.
Here are a few slides that detail some of the big challenges we are facing:
(Begin slideshow, Part 1)
As we can see here, for more than three decades, U.S. family income has risen on average about 3.8 percent per year. That’s not keeping up with the average increase in one major expense for families -- medical costs -- which have been the focus of so much public attention. Yet college tuitions and fees have gone up even faster than that, at nearly twice the rate of family income. That is simply not sustainable.
Average annual increases 1978-2012 (U.S.)
- Family income: 3.8%
- Medical costs: 5.8%
- College tuition and fees (public and private): 7.1%
Public funding has also failed to keep pace. As this second image shows, state support for the University System has dropped 28.1 percent over the past 12 years. However, enrollments have remained strong over that same span, rising 21.6 percent. So, from a state support standpoint, we are truly educating more with less.
State support, enrollments
- State support: Down 28.1%
- Enrollments: Up 21.6%
Now, this map on the screen shows that demographics are not on our side. From 2009-2020, the number of students graduating high school in the U.S. is expected to drop by 2 percent. But it is going to plummet here in the Northeast by 7 percent. And thanks to our aging population, it is expected to fall a stunning 18 percent in New Hampshire. While recently updated projections indicate national trends may level out or even rise slightly by 2021, the downward trend for the Northeast and New Hampshire will remain severe.
High school graduates
- U.S.: -2%
- Northeast: -7%
- N.H.: -18%
Finally, we face these challenges of cost, public support and demographics in a higher education world defined increasingly by disruptive innovations. We are all aware of many of these, such as MOOCs, massively open online courses, and for-profit or nearly-for-profit online schools that saturate the airwaves with ads promising fast, low-cost and relatively easy paths to degree.
(End slideshow, part 1)
So, what do we do in the face of these challenges?
Well, let me start by identifying two things that I'm sure we should NOT do.
The first thing we shouldn’t do is yield to pressures to commodify higher education, turn students into customers, and drive relentlessly to lower unit costs of production.
Pressures to do this are real. As one of those slides I just had on the screen emphasized, traditional higher ed is arguably pricing itself out of the reach of the American middle class. Politicians across the ideological spectrum have seized upon college costs and curricular relevance as potent issues. The Obama administration, thought by many to be fundamentally sympathetic to higher education, has joined in, readying a scorecard to assess our compliance with various externally imposed metrics, including price and completion rates. Just last week the president himself raised questions about the merits of art history as a field of study. Small wonder, then, that we are advised just to call it a day: throw everything online, substitute call centers for face to face interactions, and award competency based credits for college-level analogues of GED degrees, all so that our customers can enjoy everyday Walmart prices.
I don't like that idea. And America can't afford it. As I regularly tell our friends in the state legislature and beyond when they ask why UNH can't be more like certain low cost providers: That's a model I'll embrace the day I see THEM drive across a suspension bridge built by an engineer with a degree from Online University of America. I suspect they also prefer their lawyers, physicians, teachers, business leaders and artists to be people who've spent formative years in classrooms and laboratories, working shoulder to shoulder in real time with real people, including with mentors who care deeply about their development as human beings. I know I do.
So, just making education cheaper is not for me a real option.
But then neither is a second extreme, one where we dig in our heels, refuse to change a single thing about the way we teach, do research, operate our campuses, recruit students, or engage with our various constituencies. Admittedly, this path has considerable superficial appeal. Change is hard, inertia easy. For those of us in the later stages of our careers, we might even pull it off, reaching retirement before the wheels fall off.
But that is not a responsible choice. We are stewards not just of our own lives, but of this institution. We need to do what is right, not just for now, not just for ourselves, but for generations of Wildcats to come.
That's an uncontroversial and unhelpful statement at a high level of abstraction, I suppose. The real question is, What does this imply for making day to day choices? How do we steer a true course in an environment that is as cloud-bound and storm-tossed as the one in which we find ourselves?
The first principle of all navigation is to start with a fixed point. Whether it's the North Star, a geodetic disk or a GPS signal, in a universe in ceaseless motion we need one constant before we can chart a reliable path.
For us, for UNH, that constant is our mission. The University of New Hampshire is a student-centered, research intensive, highly engaged, residential public university.
Let me say that again…….. For us, for UNH, that constant is our mission. The University of New Hampshire is a student-centered, research intensive, highly engaged, residential public university.
Those are not just words. They are unerring, defining characteristics. They tell us what we are and what we are not, what other institutions we are like or what institutions we are different from. Importantly, those words also tell us what we may or may not do in our daily operations. We cannot, for instance, remain the University of New Hampshire while moving all or even most of our activities online. We cannot decide to become private, as some have suggested, however little support the state provides, and still be true to our mission. We can't decide that research is too expensive--or that teaching undergraduates is too bothersome--and still be UNH.
This is our core, our fixed point--student-centric, research intensive, highly engaged, residential, public.
Having core values is limiting. It is meant to be limiting.
But it is not paralyzing. Hewing to those core values does not prevent us from changing a multitude of everyday practices.
Indeed, once we recognize that the single greatest threat – the single greatest -- to our ability to preserve our core values is posed by a failure to adapt to a radically altered environment, change in daily practice becomes both necessity and virtue.
Several years ago, the university community came together to write a blueprint for change, one that we called UNH 2020. We've made real progress in the pursuit of that plan, some of which I mentioned earlier in this address.
But we still have a lot of work to do. As I said, there is no time for a victory lap.
So today, I call upon on the university community to come together again and renew our Strategic Plan. Which of the commitments we made in 2009 have we fulfilled? Which are no longer germane? What new commitments do we need to make?
To answer these questions, I will ask Provost Lisa MacFarlane and other senior leaders to construct a transparent and inclusive but expeditious process to update our plan. Once launched later this semester, I urge everyone in the UNH community to take an active role, and to engage and challenge one another with your ideas, vision and questions.
As we start down this path, I would offer just two pieces of advice:
First, bear our mission, our fixed point, prominently in mind. UNH already knows what it is. The help we need is not with clarifying our mission. Instead, it is with insuring that we are strong enough and nimble enough to achieve it.
Second, be mindful of the hard work that has already been done. Over the last year or so, we've identified five overriding strategic priorities, derived from the original plan, that have guided our daily work. Those five priorities, which I hope also guide the refresh of the plan, are as follows
(Begin slideshow, part 2)
Slide 1: Enrollment
- First, enrollment. Undergraduate tuition is, for better or worse, overwhelmingly the primary source of UNH's revenue. Assuring a steady flow of qualified undergraduate students--resident and non-resident, domestic and international--is the cornerstone of everything else we do. Consequently, I have been asking my staff to focus relentlessly on this issue--to expand our recruitment areas, design more attractive materials, develop a better web presence, reengineer campus tours and other yield events. I've also urged them to work with deans and departments to make sure that we have the space and faculty available for the most popular programs. In somewhat more of a challenge to our traditional culture, I've asked that we rethink our academic calendar, our curriculum, our online presence and interdisciplinary program options, our articulation with K-12 and the community colleges, how we position our students for life after graduation, how we measure the value we add, and what we might do to shorten time to degrees. The spring semester will see our deans focused on this effort, which we are calling the University of Choice. This comprises the myriad ways in which we make UNH curricula and research more flexible, more creative, more accessible, and therefore more affordable. You’ll recognize aspects of the University of Choice in our efforts to expand our summer programs; in J-term offerings that allow students to accelerate their time to degree; and in our commitment to increase and better fund co- and extra-curricular experiences like undergraduate research, study abroad, experiential learning, and the unique qualities of residential life. The University of Choice is first and foremost about enriching the academic and intellectual lives of our students. It is also a deliberate double entendre, one that refers to making UNH both a place where students have multiple paths, multiple choices as they chart educational courses that work for them--and THE place that students choose to attend. The University of Choice. By the way, facilities have a critical role to play in this enrollment equation. Our physical plant is literally how the world, including our prospective students, sees us. While we will never seek to build anything that is not to the scale and purpose of our institution—and our state--to stay competitive, build and renew we must.
Slide 2: Branding, Marketing
- A second, closely related priority is branding and marketing. These are words that chafe a bit to those of us who have grown up in the academy. We like to think that every spare dollar we can muster should be put to work in direct service of our core mission--hiring another faculty member, outfitting another lab, underwriting another scholarship. These are essential. But they are not sufficient. Quality doesn’t matter if no one knows about it. For too long, UNH failed to tell its own story effectively. When others thought about us at all, we let them define us. The results were all too apparent for all too long. We must do a better job of engaging our alumni, reaching new pools of prospective students and making a convincing case to the people of New Hampshire for public support. We can no longer be content to be an undiscovered gem and a well kept secret. Our new visual identity, compelling as it is, is only a small element of our new emphasis on branding and marketing. We've launched aggressive new advertising campaigns, in both traditional and new digital media. We're also working toward ensuring that all parts of our large and diverse university community are aligned as we get our messages out. And, not least important, we've welcomed a strong new leader, Joel Seligman, to the UNH family to spearhead these efforts.
Slide 3: STEM education
- An intensification of our commitment to STEM education--Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics--is our third strategic priority. The United States in general and New Hampshire in particular suffer from an acute shortage of STEM educated students. We simply do not have the highly trained workforce that we need to drive innovation--thus productivity --thus economic growth--in a highly globalized, knowledge driven 21st century economy. Together with our sister institutions in the University System and the Community College System, we have committed to doubling the number of STEM graduates by 2025. This is a tough goal--and it will take all of these partners, and more, to reach it. But it is to UNH that falls the mantle of leadership in this initiative. To that end, STEM faculty from UNH and the community colleges will be soon meet at a STEM summit here on campus to build on a new agreement that will allow community college students who have earned a two-year degree in STEM studies to transfer seamlessly to UNH to complete a four-year degree. We are also growing our efforts to encourage STEM education and opportunities for K-12 students and their teachers, with expanded summer camps and training programs. I’d like to thank PT Vasudevan, “Vasu”, for his leadership of these efforts. Additional efforts to build the STEM talent pipeline are underway at UNH Manchester, which is working on a path-breaking early college pilot with Manchester West High School and Manchester Community College. Finally, UNH Cooperative Extension is also doing its share, and will hire eight new colleagues over the next two years in STEM education. We are the only New Hampshire institution of higher education that offers the full spectrum of STEM education and research, providing graduates who actually want to stay here in New Hampshire when they enter the workforce or start their own businesses. New Hampshire will reach this critical goal if UNH successfully drives the process. I say all this about the importance of STEM education as an unreconstructed humanist, by the way. Our stress on driving STEM will diminish not a whit the importance of the arts and humanities at UNH. There is a line in the trailer for the movie "Monuments Men," the story of a US Army unit's assignment in the last days of the Second World War to save the trove of Western art that had been looted by the Nazis, that captures this sentiment for me. The character played by George Clooney is taken to task by another officer for interfering with "the real war effort" by trying to save a bunch of paintings and sculptures. Clooney's response: paintings and sculptures and the heritage they represent ARE the real war effort, the REASON we're fighting. So it is with STEM education: Only by building a thriving economy can we free ourselves to pursue the true ends of human life that are expressed in art and music and literature
Slide 4: Research, Research Commercialization
- Research and research commercialization is our fourth strategic priority. In a sense, we shouldn't have to restate this, as we are already in agreement that being research intensive is a core part of our mission. Yet I have found that we often need to remind ourselves--and others--of this elemental fact, and to be careful not to allow our own policies and procedures to get in the way of our research mission. In fact, the key finding of the presidential blue ribbon panel on research I appointed my first semester here, led by now-Senior Vice Provost for Research Jan Nisbet, was that we had done exactly that. Once we addressed some of these impediments, we saw a reflowering of research at UNH--and a burst of long overdue commercialization efforts. In an environment where we have to ensure a hardy diversity of revenue streams, that latter point is crucial
Slide 5: Fundraising
- Finally, speaking of diversified revenue streams, there is the realm of Advancement. As I mentioned earlier, we had a record year last year. I expect us to break that record this year. And, in the years ahead, as we move into the public phase of our comprehensive fundraising campaign, I expect that upward trend to continue. But even with those successes, private giving--annual gifts, bequests, and earnings on our endowment-- constitutes only 4 or 5% of our revenues. We can and must do even better. Our investment in the work of University Advancement—including gift officers, IT services, alumni relations, marketing and communication, and so forth--is essential. And remember: Advancement is a team sport--and everyone of us at UNH is part of that team--whether helping engage alumni and friends, telling the UNH story, or even helping with the "asks."
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 to take all necessary action--gird ourselves for necessary change--to secure our common future.
We can do this with confidence. Challenges, even really hard, existential challenges, are not new to UNH. We have risen to them before, and we will rise to those that are now before us. We derive our strength from one another, and from the knowledge that whatever our occasional differences, we are united in our commitment to this phenomenal institution.
Thank you for all you do. Thank you for all you WILL DO for the University of New Hampshire.
It is, as I said at the beginning, truly great to be here.
May you all have a healthy, happy and productive 2014.
I now invite you all to stay for a bit and join us for refreshments at the side of the room. Enjoy, and have a safe drive home tonight – and stay tuned to our web pages and Twitter feeds. Our crack weather team is on the job and we will make a call about any curtailment as soon as possible.