Beth Bye and Tracey Wilson

Tracey Wilson & Beth Bye '80, '90G

Tracey Wilson & Beth Bye '80, '90G

“What I learned at UNH will never leave me, and [I feel] we all have to get back to thinking about the communities that nurtured us and being part of something positive. It feels good to give, and it feels good to think about [my] impact long term. [We should ask], how do we make a difference with the time we have left?” says Elizabeth “Beth” Bye ’84 ’90G, who recently documented a gift to the UNH Child Study and Development Center at the UNH College of Health and Human Services.

Walking among the UNH science buildings one day her freshman year, she noticed a little daycare center nestled in what was once known as Forest Park, on-campus housing for students with families. Confident in her abilities to work with children from her days as a director of a camp back home, she walked in the door, asked for a job, and was hired. And there a career that spanned more than 40 years in early childhood education was launched. 

The Durham Infant Center was a parent co-op in the ‘80s, started by graduate students sharing the common need for childcare while they completed their studies. UNH, progressive about helping women attend graduate school during a time when this wasn’t so common, provided an apartment which the co-op transformed into a childcare center. Beth work alongside these dedicated student-parents and viewed them as role models. They were breaking ground, pioneering model practices and training teachers before sending them into the “real world." Out of necessity and without intention, they had created an early childhood lab school at UNH. Beth switched her major from biology and went on to obtain her bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology at UNH. And she has never looked back.

Beth Bye served in leadership roles in childcare centers and schools in Connecticut for many years before running for office in 2007. She led the effort to create the Connecticut State Office of Early Childhood, established in 2013, and was appointed commissioner of early childhood by Governor Ned Lamont in 2019. UNH’s classes along with her experiences in the Durham Infant Center (the precursor to today's UNH Child Study and Development Center) taught her how to create a warm, responsive environment, how to nurture young brains and how to respond to babies and infants. In her work now, she has created a cohesive system bringing great practice researched in lab schools to reality in early childhood centers across her state. Beth has dedicated her entire career to Connecticut’s youngest citizens and their parents’ rights.

Recently, Beth decided to leave a gift to UNH’s Child Study and Development Center (CSDC) in her will. “I saved for retirement and now my [financial]l plan is very safe,” she says, “so it’s time to think about how to give back. I believe an investment in [the center] is a way of sending out teachers who are trained in the very best practices.”

Working in one of the lowest paying professions and putting herself through college, she never envisioned having the means to make a difference. However, when UNH’s Office of Gift Planning reached out to discuss planned giving options, the conversation alerted Beth to possibilities to support UNH that she never knew existed. “In my home, planned giving was not something you think about. I didn’t even understand what it was. My parents weren’t the type who were giving to their college. You all were so responsive and went out of your way to ask me about my interests. Your outreach was so appreciated.”

Beth is proud that the next generation of her family, including her nephew, a psychology major, attends UNH and enjoys the same positive experiences, great teaching and invaluable connections she remembers. She is paving the way in her own family to create a culture of giving. “We all need to think about our institutions, and I think [making a planned gift is a way] that we can add to programs that were important to us and helped us get on our paths.” UNH is fortunate to have forged a connection with Beth that will live on and is grateful for her future commitment to the UNH Child Study and Development Center and the children and teachers it serves.

If you’re interested in making a gift to UNH’s Child Study & Development Center or any other area that is meaningful to you, please reach out to us in the Office of Gift Planning, (603) 862-3694 or