The Facts About the Funding of UNH’s New Business College
By President Mark W. Huddleston
Everyone appreciates sound business practice, especially in these challenging times. The first person to call me after the media coverage surrounding the funding proposal for the new business school was Fred Whittemore. Fred, for whom the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore Center is named, is the son of the late well-known industrialist Laurence Whittemore, for whom the Whittemore School of Business and Economics is named. He agrees with us that the funding plan for the new business facility is sound business practice. He urged me to stay the course, that this new facility is important to UNH and to the state of New Hampshire. We will have generated at least $30 million in private money toward a $55 million building – that’s our largest privately funded capital project ever – and we are using an internal loan to fund the balance.
The repayment of that loan includes a last-resort contingency to use a tuition increase cap to assist in paying it back. This is not a new practice. A contingency is built into all of our funding plans for building projects. Capital projects at UNH, throughout the university system and indeed across the country are partially or fully funded by tuition dollars. Kingsbury, DeMerritt, James and Parsons Halls, UNH’s cogeneration plant – all these projects were in some way funded by tuition. It is a core expense of operating any university.
State law does not permit a public university to finance externally any of our academic or administrative building. This limits our funding options. We must rely on grants, gifts, state capital appropriations and tuition/fees.
In June 2008, when the gift was announced, the donor - Troy native and UNH alum Peter Paul – intended for his $25 million challenge to be leveraged from several sources, including the state and our own alumni. We knew then that the opportunities we envisioned for our students and faculty could be realized despite economic conditions but we’d have to roll up our sleeves to get it done. With the national economy on the verge of the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, most colleges and universities had to recalculate their fundraising aspirations – and many of them were in the middle of major capital campaigns.
We’ve come a long way since that day in 2008. Consider the math: a very generous $25 million gift; a $10 million strategic building fund that has been percolating for years, thanks to the foresight of past and present WSBE deans; and an expected $5 million-plus from donors and alumni who know how important this new business facility will be to our students and faculty and to the state of New Hampshire.
Why are we staying on schedule with this project? Because it is vital to the success of our students and to the economic success of our state. A conservative estimate puts the amount UNH educated students contribute annually to the state’s skilled workforce at $562 million. And businesses in the state are clamoring for more. So as Fred Whittemore so aptly said to me on the phone this morning, this is absolutely the right thing for the University of New Hampshire to do right now. We will stay the course and build this facility.
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