News & Events
From the Provost
August 26th, 2013
Welcome, all, to the beginning of another academic year! I wish for you a year of optimism and possibility, good and satisfying work, and continued generosity of spirit.
I want especially to thank each of you for all you do to make the University of New Hampshire the warm and vibrant place that it is. For me, the great pleasure and privilege of administrative work has been the opportunity to get to know better the extraordinary range and quality of the work you do, across three (now) campuses and across the full mission of the University.
I know some of you were on vacation or doing research off campus a couple of weeks ago when the announcement appeared in the Campus Journal, so let me say that I’m delighted that Professor P.T. Vasudevan (Vasu) has joined the Provost’s staff as the Interim Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. An accomplished scholar, award-winning teacher, former department chair in Chemical Engineering, and most recently the Associate Dean in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Vasu brings to the office deep knowledge of the University, complementary disciplinary experience, and wisdom. I’m very grateful that he is willing to serve in this role.
I said that I wish for you, for us all, a year of optimism and possibility. Everyone who works for, with, or on behalf of a University must be at some level an optimistic person. After all, we are committed to the future and to the next generation; to the discovery of solutions to some of the world’s most intransigent problems, and to some of the most local; and to the creative expression of that which is deeply human and deeply felt. As Emily Dickinson said, we dwell in possibility.
In a way, a strategic plan is an (admittedly quotidian) expression of that possibility. As many of you know, I first came to work in Thompson Hall on the first day of the strategic planning process that led to UNH in 2020. This year, I’m looking forward to working with the Deans and Directors, the Faculty Senate, college leadership, and the Provost’s staff as we revisit the Plan in the context of a rapidly changing landscape for higher education. I know we will celebrate our considerable progress. I also hope that we will note areas where we still need to move forward, and that we will reexamine initiatives whose spirit might be reimagined for new circumstances.
A few words on the Strategic Plan: Intentionally, it extends the 2003 Academic Plan, and before that, the University’s long, productive history. Founded in response to the 1862 Morrill Act, UNH’s original land grant mission was to educate people for both useful work and informed citizenship; although explicitly about agriculture and “mechanic arts,” implicitly the Morrill Act assumed that a broadly, liberally, educated population was essential to national, and human, progress. We at UNH still believe that. Since UNH’s 1866 founding, our land-grant charter has expanded to include sea and space grants, and we reinvigorate those now for a new century that is simultaneously more locally rooted and more globally interconnected than ever before.
How we both honor our history and anticipate the future is our current challenge. At its core, the Strategic Plan seeks to help us focus on this. How do we best support faculty and staff in creating, sharing, and applying new knowledge to global challenges? How can we better use our expertise, time, technologies, partnerships, and physical plant to extend and improve the lives around us? How can we create ways for students to move flexibly towards both intellectual fulfillment and full employment? And how can we engage our fellow citizens in New Hampshire and beyond by developing with them the University’s intellectual capital? Achieving this will stretch our imaginations, and will require us to articulate precisely what we most value in higher education and what ways, both new and traditional, will help us achieve those ends.
I am eager to do this with you over the course of the year: stretch our imaginations and claim the values which sustain us. We’ll have opportunities, I know, in departmental and college committees, in Senate meetings, in concert with the deans and directors, in the staff and the newly-formed lecturer councils, and in informal conversations across campus. For now, however, as you meet your first students, greet colleagues, and settle into the familiar rhythm of the academic year, let me simply thank you, and wish you well.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of English and American Studies
Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (603)862-3290 firstname.lastname@example.org
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