President Dean delivers the 2020 State of the University address

University of New Hampshire

State of the University

February 4, 2020

Good afternoon and welcome everyone.  Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you about the state of UNH. You may remember that one year ago I laid out—with support from people throughout our university community—a vision for the future of UNH. Today, I will update you on our goals, our four strategic priorities and the initiatives we have undertaken to pursue our strategy and to make the university an even stronger institution.

Before we begin today’s conversation, I would like to welcome the UNH Chamber Singers, led by Alex Favazza, director of choral activities and lecturer in music for the College of Liberal Arts, for a performance of our alma mater.

We decided to use a new format for the State of the University talk this year.

We have people stationed in the four corners of the room to talk with you about our strategic priorities and initiatives. Many of these initiatives have emerged from around the university, and the people at the stations are leading them.

I will introduce them during my talk, and after the Q&A, you are invited to learn more about the projects we have launched to achieve our goals.  We’ll leave enough time for you to do this.

As a reminder, our strategic priorities and initiatives are the result of many months of work by hundreds of people around the university and across New Hampshire and beyond.

The heart of our strategic aspiration is to be among the best public universities in the country, more specifically among the top 25 public universities in the country on the most important measures of academic performance.

Here are the core metrics we are focused on, and our current rankings relative to other public universities.For context, there are over 500 public universities in the country, so the top 25 represents the top 5 percent. Even just stating these goals has already inspired people to think about UNH differently, and to raise our own sights higher.

We have updated the metrics based on new data available, and it is a good news/bad news situation.

In most areas, our performance has improved. But in many areas our rankings have slipped, due to improvements at other institutions. This gives us a sense of how competitive universities have become, and how focused we will need to be to compete more effectively against other universities.

One example of this is our graduation rate for Pell Grant students, those of most limited means. While our graduation rate increased slightly, our ranking dropped by four positions. In fairness, this data is from students who joined us six years ago, so the changes we have made recently are not reflected.

We continue to be proud of our ranking on sustainability, which is, in fact, our highest, as we are one of the top two public universities. This reflects decades of work by committed faculty, staff and students. As students are increasingly focused on sustainability, we believe this will be an important recruiting tool.

Student participation in high-impact educational practices is one of the metrics in which our ranking went up, even though our performance stayed the same.

We have major challenges in the percentage of first-year students in the top 10 percent of their class, and in the ratio of administrative to instructional expenses. We have initiatives in place to address these as well, including some high school visits I will tell you about.

Here are our four strategic priorities. I will organize the remainder of my talk around them. We have created a lot of momentum for each of them and they remain our focus for the foreseeable future.

Embrace New Hampshire

The first strategic priority I would like to discuss is Embrace New Hampshire. Our aspiration is that: UNH will make everyone in New Hampshire incredibly proud of their flagship public university. Students will grow up 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. We will build collaborations that support New Hampshire’s economy and quality of life, and will be a trusted, valuable and consistent partner.

People in this corner of the room are working on initiatives related to this priority:

Chris Clement will discuss our Business Advisory Council, which gives us the opportunity to have frank discussions with New Hampshire’s business leaders.

Kate Aiken will discuss our high school visits (more on this in a minute).

And Mica Stark and Ken LaValley will discuss our survey of faculty and staff related to Embrace New Hampshire. We are doing an amazing amount of work that benefits the state.

In connection with this priority, we have focused on building relationships with elected officials, business leaders and high schools. In the past few months, I have visited Fall Mountain Regional High School, White Mountains Regional High School, Spaulding High School and Manchester Memorial High School. I often bring students with me and, when possible, they are alumni of the school we are visiting.

We have visits scheduled to Bedford, Kennett, Windham, Winnacunnet and Lebanon high schools, and there will be others as well. We hope through these visits to increase both applications and yield from New Hampshire high schools.

To give you a feel for these visits, I would like to share with you a video from our December visit to White Mountains Regional High School, in Whitefield. This is typical of the kind of enthusiasm these visits have created. I believe they will pay off both in students and in good will toward the university.

Enhance Student Success and Well-Being

Our next strategic priority is Enhance Student Success and Well-Being. This priority is focused on: ensuring that students graduate on time and are engaged and ethical global citizens, prepared to thrive in their first jobs and throughout their careers.

This is our most important strategic priority. I would now like to introduce Professor Nicky Gullace to discuss several initiatives related to student retention and graduation.

[Nicky Gullace speaks]

I would next like to introduce a first-year student, Jake Moniz, who has some personal experience with retention he would like to share, based on his recent experience with our advising and gateway course early warning initiative.

[Jake Moniz speaks]

As you know, we conducted a Campus Climate Survey last year and presented the results. Among other issues, we were struck that a number of students are facing housing or food insecurity, and have now formed a faculty and staff committee to bring together our efforts to help disadvantaged students, and to make it easier for them to seek help.

Finally, our Discovery curriculum is an important vehicle for promoting student success.

Available at the stations in this corner will be Vasu Vasudevan to discuss our student retention initiatives, Kathy Neils, Chris Shea and Monica Chiu to discuss the Campus Climate survey, and Professors Scott Smith and Nicky Gullace to discuss the Discovery curriculum revisions.

 

Expand Academic Excellence

I now call on Provost Wayne Jones to discuss our Expand Academic Excellence priority: Expanding academic excellence is critical to the long-term success of UNH and any institution.  This strategic priority focuses on attracting increasingly strong and diverse students and faculty from across the country and abroad. We will achieve this by being known and respected for the high caliber of teaching, research and advising across all our academic programs, as well as our distinguished research, scholarship and doctoral education worldwide.

[Wayne Jones]

Honors program enhancements to create an Honors College:

  • Proposal approved by the faculty senate,
  • an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to their development that augments their major,
  • a physical space, co-located with UNH’s other enrichment opportunities, to share their experiences, engage with faculty, and work together,
  • financial incentives that will empower them to be successful in the honors program, and
  • an optimized curriculum that will allow flexibility to engage in high impact learning experiences.

Faculty Development and Support

Growth of the academies, including teaching with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CEITL):

  • Balance of faculty hiring between support for teaching mission and enhancing research and scholarship.  Currently 33 searches are on-going, and we will be targeting new cluster initiatives around HIS and BSI,
  • commitment to diverse and outstanding faculty,
  • innovation and Diversity Post-doctoral program,
  • over 130 applications, 15 possible positions across all colleges,
  • targeting 5 appointments this year and next year, and
  • enhance position as a Carnegie Research 1 institution.

We have done a deep dive, not enough time for this great slide from Harlan, but you can ask him questions after.

  • We must continue to grow as our competition does
  • Increase funding per faculty member
  • Growth of about 5 percent so far this year
  • Increase PhD production
    • Up at least 5 percent and could be 10 percent
  • Social Science PhD production is one key
    • Improved pathways to completion
    • Continued stipend growth for the next 2 years

[President Dean]

Build Financial Strength

Our final strategic priority is one that makes it possible to pursue the other priorities: Build Financial Strength. Our aspiration here is that: UNH will be a national leader in cost management 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 expenses. UNH will meet the full range of student needs by providing world-class faculty, facilities and organization.

This slide shows the relationship among the strategic priorities.  Build Financial Strength provides the resources needed to enhance student success and well-being, to expand academic excellence, and to embrace New Hampshire.

This is why it is so crucial for the university to focus intensively on our financial condition. From the beginning of our strategic planning, we envisioned a deep dive into our financial structure to see how we could free up resources for strategic priorities.

As you know, we decided to work with Huron Consulting to conduct this analysis. They have finished their work, and we recently posted on the web detailed slides with their methodology and findings.

Huron Report, Next Steps: Here are our next steps, rough timeline and people responsible for each project.  People leading teams in Phase I have assembled their teams to identify and execute specific steps to take advantage of these findings. The team members are identified on the Huron webpage.  As you can see, we are already working on several of these. Over the next few months, we will focus on:

  • Making sure that we find the savings we need to fund our strategies and to better pursue our core mission.
  • Ensuring effective communication to the campuses.  One way we are doing this is through four town hall meetings we have set up on all three campuses in the coming weeks.
  • Treating people whose lives are affected with dignity, compassion and respect.
  • I certainly appreciate the concerns that people may have about the potential impact of this effort on their jobs. I have heard from many of you on this score, and I promise you that I will continue to listen and to be fully transparent as we move forward. I want to emphasize that our work to build financial strength will not rest entirely on personnel decisions. It will also rely on savings in other areas and new revenue streams, including a major fundraising campaign, new public-private partnerships, expanded efforts to license our intellectual property and other measures.​

Conclusion

In conclusion, the University of New Hampshire is healthy and enjoying success in many areas across our three campuses. We are well positioned to build on our accomplishments and to excel in ways that will make us even better, more robust and prepared to excel in a rapidly changing world.

It is an exciting time to be at the University of New Hampshire.We have identified a bold set of goals and have identified specific strategies and initiatives to achieve them.We have initiated a project to create additional resources to fund this effort.We have very talented people to help us implement all of this.

More broadly, the state of New Hampshire has increased our funding for the first time in many years, allowing us to hold in-state tuition flat. The USNH Board of Trustees has made it a strategic priority to support our flagship institution. We have achieved the highest possible research designation.

I believe that the best days for the University of New Hampshire are ahead of us. As you talk to your friends and colleagues across New Hampshire, I hope that you can share this message of optimism. At this point, I am happy to discuss any questions you would like to pose.

Thanks for all these questions. I now invite you to visit the four stations and to learn more about all the initiatives around campus. Thank you.

 

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