As the first administrative coordinator for UNH’s inaugural interdisciplinary program, Sally Nelson has helped steer the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering through many uncharted waters. That she has done so with tremendous enthusiasm, good humor and dedication is a credit to her professionalism — and to her tremendous skill at juggling multiple, high-stakes priorities.
Sally started at UNH in 2005 as a program support assistant and events coordinator in the then-office of Presidential Events, now University Events and Programs. She moved to the UNH marine program six years later, in November 2011. And since 2014, she has supported the marine school, not only fulfilling but defining a role that serves a broad portfolio of programs and constituencies.
Take the example of Ocean Discovery Day. The major external outreach event for the marine school and NH Sea Grant, this remarkably popular program attracts more than 2,000 students and families each year, engages middle school and high school teachers and involves more than 100 volunteers— and Sally organizes all of it.
Sally also helped develop and now maintains the marine school’s website and social media presence. She coordinates graduate activities that include the annual Graduate Student Research Symposium and the development of new classes, short courses and curricula. She ensures fair winds and following seas for the work of the Marine School Executive Committee and External Advisory Board, as well as the leadership team.
More recently, Sally’s do-it-all attitude has extended to working with the UNH Foundation to define a fundraising strategy to support both the marine school and the Shoals Marine Lab. And last year, when the ocean engineering program lost a key administrative position in the thick of the construction and expansion of Chase Laboratory, she stepped in without hesitation. She oversaw the temporary staffing of the position and led the effort to secure a permanent replacement, contributions her coworkers say kept the office running and open for business during a uniquely chaotic time.