The Future of UNH

Four strategic priorities are guiding UNH toward a bold, overarching aspiration – to be among the nation’s top 25 public universities in the most important measures of academic performance. President James W. Dean Jr. announced this plan in January 2019, and this website captures the progress we are making.

Academic Performance Metrics

We believe these metrics are some of the most important indicators of academic performance. We are already top 25 in some, close on others, and have some ways to go on a few. If you want to explore these metrics further, review the list of the top 50 public universities for each metric and see the data sources we are using,  please visit here (current as of February 2022).  These metrics had to meet two criteria: they need to be a meaningful indicator of academic performance and there needs to be a national database available to compare ourselves.

Graduation Rate

2021 Rank: 44 • Percent Graduating On Time: 77.1%
2020 Rank: 45 • Percent Graduating On Time: 77.5%

This is probably the simplest and most obvious measure of student success. Students who don’t graduate experience a great deal of the costs but few of the benefits of higher education.
(The decline in rates at other public universities was greater, so our rank rose slightly in comparison.)

Graduation Rate for Pell Grant Students

2021 Rank: 45 • Percent Graduating On Time: 73.1%
2020 Rank: 43 • Percent Graduating On Time: 72.6%

This captures our ability to help students who come from families with limited means to experience the economic opportunities available to college graduates.
(While our rate has improved, rates at other public universities rose slightly higher.)

Percentage Loan Repayment

2021 Rank: Pending
2019 Rank: 17 • Paid On Time: 81.3%

This captures our graduates’ ability to repay their loans, which is an indirect measure of their career preparation and success.
(US Department of Education has not updated as of January 2021.)

Percentage 1st Year Students in Top 10% of Their High School Class

2021 Rank: 111 • Total: 22%
2020 Rank: 146 • Total: 20%

This captures our ability to attract the best and brightest to UNH.
(Our rank rose both because we are attracting more high achieving students and fewer schools are participating in the ranking.)

Students Participating in High-Impact Educational Practices

2021 Rank: 25 • Total: 81%
2020 Rank: 17 • Total: 81%

Research has shown that certain activities (e.g. internships and research) make a big difference in student success post-graduation.
(Our overall rank dropped slightly because more public universities participate in surveys that measure this metric.)

Best Value

2021 Rank: 13
2020 Rank: 13

This measures the quality of a UNH education relative to its cost.
(Our rank remained the same among public universities in 2021.)

Ratio of Administrative to Instructional Expenses

2021 Rank: Pending
2020 Rank: 201 • Ratio: 25.7%

This addresses how efficiently we perform administrative work at UNH.
(Reporting of 2021 data is delayed due to COVID-19.)


2021 Rank: 5
2020 Rank: 2

This assesses our education, research and practices in supporting environmental, fiscal and social responsibility.
(UNH continues to have the highest rating for sustainability, STARS Platinum, achieved by only seven US schools. Our ranking dipped because other STARS Platinum schools raised their scores slightly. UNH is renewing its STARS ranking in 2021.)

Research Funding Per Faculty Member

2021 Rank: Pending
2020 Rank: 55 • Total: $246,931

This is an assessment of the research productivity of our faculty.
(An updated national survey of this measure is expected in spring 2021.)

Four Strategic Priorities

Drawing on input from thousands of UNH community members, each of the four priorities includes new and existing initiatives and metrics that will direct and measure progress in these important areas. The following list of initiatives is not exhaustive. Rather, it brings attention to some of the leading efforts we are driving  to move these strategic priorities forward.

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Enhance Student
Success and Well-Being

Aspirations and Initiatives

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Expand Academic and
Research Excellence

Aspirations and Initiatives

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New Hampshire

Aspirations and Initiatives

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Build Financial

Aspirations and Initiatives

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Enhance Student Success and Well-Being


UNH will ensure that all students graduate on time and are engaged and ethical global citizens. They will be prepared to thrive in their first jobs and throughout their careers. UNH will become a national leader in designing the educational experience from the first year to graduation.


We have instituted a number of efforts to improve undergraduate student retention, with a particular emphasis on the first two years, including: enhanced orientation and arrival programs; expanded student early warning systems; expanded matching programs in COLA and UNH Manchester for incoming first-year and transfer students with advisors, including student/peer navigators; and the Changemaker Fellowship, which engages high school seniors as soon as they are accepted and engages them for four years. The goal is to increase retention to above 90 percent across all demographic groups.

A faculty committee has put forward a proposal to enhance the Discovery Program, with changes that emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion, and sustainability.

Faculty development is being integrated across the areas of teaching, research and community engagement, creating deeper connections between learning science, teaching practice and professional development. In 2020, over 300 faculty participated in training programs through the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching and Learning and UNH Information Technology.  Further, we engaged with the Association of College and University Educators with our first cohort of 30 faculty being certified in pedagogy, online learning strategies and successful practices to enhance student engagement.  A second cohort of 30 faculty was recruited in summer 2021.

We have created new programs to ensure that all students have access to food and housing. For example, students who are food insecure can take advantage of the Swipe It Forward program, while the Housing and the Inn Between Fund resources help students facing homelessness. With the generous support of our alumni and faculty/staff donors, we have also established a Student Emergency Financial Assistance Fund to help students in need.

The university will work to ensure that every student will be engaged in out-of-classroom, real-world learning experiences, including internships and cooperative work positions. The total number of graduating seniors with an internship experience is 75 percent and we continue to expand partnerships toward our goal of 100 percent of students that seek an internship will have access to one.

In response to student input across our campuses, the university introduced a new system for reporting incidents of bias and racism inspring 2021 semester and created a new position to oversee our response. In fall 2021, we released an updated Comprehensive Prevention Plan, and in December 2021, we announced 22 commitments in four focus areas across UNH: prevention, reporting, training and safety.

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Expand Academic and Research Excellence


UNH will attract increasingly strong and diverse students and faculty from across the country and abroad. The university will be known and respected for the high caliber of teaching, research and advising in its academic programs. Its distinguished research, scholarship and doctoral education will be recognized worldwide, including its contributions to global sustainability challenges.


In fall 2021, the USNH trustees approved our plans to renovate Huddleston Hall to house an Honors College.  Students in the college will experience broader and deeper in-class and extracurricular education in a dedicated learning community, and work with faculty mentors from all colleges, departments and majors. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2022 and be completed in November 2023. 




New faculty cluster hiring initiatives in spring 2021 are promoting new and expanded research opportunities and helping to attract high-caliber graduate students.

We have continued our success in growing new MS and certificate programs that meet specific needs in the higher education marketplace, including key programs at UNH Manchester, Paul College, and HHS.  This effort has been growing tuition revenue by more than 20 percent per year over the last several years.

In fall 2021, UNH renewed its STARS platinum rating — the highest possible under the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)’s rating system. The university is rated fourth for sustainability among US public universities.

Our Discovery Program will be expanded to include requirements that support DEI, including co-curricular programming through 1-credit seminars, the Civic Discourse Lab and other institutes. Diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops, seminars and related educational opportunities will be broadened via collaborations with external trainers as well as UNH colleges, programs and offices. The Social Justice Educator Program will be expanded to meet the need for increased frequency of training opportunities and expanded capacity.

We have created the Postdoctoral Diversity and Innovation Scholars Program. In fall 2021, we welcomed our third cohort and increased the number of scholars to 10 across all disciplines.  This program is designed to create a diverse pool of trained faculty candidates as part of our community. To help enroll a diverse undergraduate student body, UNH has commitments for $2 million dollars of endowed scholarship to attract outstanding undergraduate students. For the  fall 2021 admissions cycle, we launched two new scholarship opportunities for entering first-year students.

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Embrace New Hampshire


UNH will work hard to make everyone in New Hampshire incredibly proud of their flagship public university. Students will grow up here wanting to come to UNH, and it will be the first choice for the best and brightest students from New Hampshire and around the world. UNH will build collaborations that support New Hampshire’s economy and quality of life, sustainability and resilience and will be a trusted, valuable and consistent partner.



Created in 2019, the university’s New Hampshire Business Advisory Council is helping UNH leaders to understand the challenges faced by NH businesses and connecting them with UNH resources and talent, including encouraging them to hire our students for jobs and internships. President Dean has also joined the board of the NH Business and Industry Association.

Prior to the COVID outbreak, President Dean and teams of students visited a half-dozen NH high schools to tell the UNH story. We will continue these visits as soon as public health conditions permit. The university has also joined NH School Administrators Association and we are planning additional outreach to guidance counselors. An additional goal will be to grow the number of first-generation students from NH choosing UNH.

The university was proud to host four sessions of the NH Legislature during the COVID pandemic. UNH also strengthend its partnership with the NH Department of Health and Human Services to provide accurate, timely testing of COVID in more than 125 K-12 schools, long term care facilities and shelters. In late 2021, UNH's testing lab surpassed more than 1 million tests. We aspire to transform our COVID testing labs into a NH Center for Pandemic Resiliency at UNH.

Following an assessment of our outreach programs and the most critical needs facing New Hampshire, we are focusing on four priorities for the state: developing the state’s highly skilled workforce, advancing K12 education, improving health care access and affordability and supporting a clean environment and energy.

Following a university-wide survey and input from hundreds of students, staff, faculty and alumni, UNH announced its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Initiatives in 2020. Its overarching goal is to make UNH standout for advancing DEI at every level of our institution and supporting DEI initiatives across New Hampshire. The university will include DEI in its research, scholarship and engagement activities, and will engage our entire community in DEI learning experiences.

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Build Financial Strength


UNH will be a national leader in long-term cost management, sustainable investing and aligning its budget and resources with its strategic priorities. UNH will become more accessible and affordable for students by diversifying revenue sources and managing resource use and expenses. UNH will meet the full range of student needs by providing world-class faculty, facilities and organization.


We are implementing, in concert with the University System of New Hampshire, a new organizational structure of our financial organization. We believe this new structure will provide better and more timely financial information to university leaders at reduced cost. Following a national search, UNH named Marcel Vernon as the chief financial officer.


Three new online MS programs have been added, and microcredential registrations reached 380 in 2020. We will continue to grow professional masters programs, and microcredential and certificate programs.

We worked with Huron Consulting to identify cost savings in many areas across the university (IT, library and the motor vehicle fleet as some recent examples). We have already identified savings of more than $10 million. This effort will allow us to achieve a sustainable financial future and to invest in strategic opportunities.

Working with the USNH Board of Trustees, we offered the COVID Early Retirement Program, which was elected by 233 staff members and 58 faculty members. While this program is expensive in the short term, it will allow us to redirect people and financial resources to where they are most needed and promote a sustainable financial future for UNH.

UNH will secure $100 million in early campaign commitments in support of the strategic plan while partnering with the UNH Foundation Board of Directors and other key stakeholders to refine the case for support, launch an expanded feasibility study, and determine the working goals of the campaign. We will invest resources in advancement staffing and infrastructure to drive the achievement of ambitious campaign goals.

Part of renewing our STARS Platinum rating, a Zero Waste Plan has the potential for real savings by evaluating comprehensive purchasing policies and practices, surplus management and waste disposal costs.

UNH State of the University 2022

On Feb. 8, 2022, President Dean and university leaders provided a progress report on the “The Future of UNH” at the State of the University address.

read the remarks

Future of UNH: Four Strategic Priorities

President Dean presented “The Future of UNH” to the UNH community on Jan. 24, 2019. Watch the video and learn how to get involved.

read the remarks

How Can You Help?

Do you have an idea to help UNH achieve new heights and reach our aspirations ? Please share your feedback. Contact the President's Office at