Update from USNH Board Chair Alex Walker (9.24.23)
Dear UNH faculty, staff and students,
The USNH Board of Trustees met on Friday, September 15th, and discussed the process for appointing the next president of the University of New Hampshire. I am writing to provide a few updates based on those discussions.
The board is continuing our conversations regarding the anticipated role and responsibilities of the next UNH president. As we continue to evaluate the overall governance of the USNH system and the future of public higher education in New Hampshire, we are not yet ready to make a final decision concerning the roles of president, chancellor, or the reporting structure. We anticipate sharing more on this topic after our next meeting in October.
In the meantime, we are preparing to begin a search immediately following the decision on this critical item. To that end, Jamie Burnett, UNH class of 1995, 96G and 98G, and vice-chair of the USNH Board of Trustees, has agreed to chair the search committee. Jamie has been a member of the board since 2017. He previously chaired the Keene State College presidential hiring committee and was a member of the last UNH presidential search committee.
Additionally, we will reengage the same executive search firm that assisted with hiring President Dean in 2018. Issacson, Miller will provide significant support to the search committee in identifying and vetting candidates and facilitating the committee's work. However, the decisions on which candidates to advance in the process will be made by the search committee, including, ultimately, recommending a single candidate to the full Board of Trustees for final consideration.
Shortly, and after consultation with the chair of the search committee, members of the board, the search firm, and other interested parties, I will be appointing a full search committee. This group will include a group of individuals representative of the USNH Board of Trustees and the UNH community who bring diverse talents and expertise to the process. We will share more information on the committee when available.
The process of selecting the next president will be a “closed search.” This means after considerable opportunity for public input and feedback on the desired skills, traits and experiences of the university’s next president, the search committee will conduct its work confidentially. We believe this approach gives us the best opportunity to attract a larger pool of qualified candidates, as many senior administrators will not participate in a public search process in order to remain effective in their existing roles.
Finally, the board has set a goal of announcing the appointment of the next president by the end of April 2024. We certainly will not sacrifice quality for speed in making this decision, but we recognize the value of facilitating a smooth transition between President Dean and his successor and believe this timeline is achievable with the diligent commitment of the search committee and firm.
The board understands the significance and the consequence of appointing the 21st President of UNH, particularly at this moment. We take this responsibility to you, the university, and the state incredibly seriously, and we are dedicated to ensuring continued steady leadership for the state’s flagship public research university.
Alex J. Walker
Chair, USNH Board of Trustees
President James W. Dean Jr. Announces His Plans to Retire (9.6.23)
On September 6, 2023, President Dean announced that he would be stepping down on June 30, 2024, after serving six years as President of the University of New Hampshire. He shared the news with the UNH community in a brief video.