President's update No. 16: Embracing NH, Huron, books and more

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff --

This last month has flown by and here we are at the end of the fall semester! I hope that it has been a good one for you.
One of the interesting things about the president’s job is that I spend a lot of time with people outside the university. Here is a sampling of some of my recent meetings:

  • I recently visited three high schools in New Hampshire - Fall Mountain Regional (Wildcats), White Mountains Regional (Spartans) and Spaulding (Red Raiders). UNH students accompanied me on some of these trips, the goal of which has been to interest students in attending UNH, and to provide updated information about UNH to the principals, counselors and teachers.  We have been warmly welcomed at each school and are planning several more visits for the spring.   
  • Last week, I visited with the leadership team of Eversource in Manchester. We are already working with Eversource on a number of joint projects and are discussing an expanded partnership. We have quite a number of alumni who work there and I had the opportunity to meet several of them during my visit.
  • I have also visited with elected and business leaders in Concord and in the North Country, discussing how UNH can broaden our outreach and service to the state in key areas.

Last week, the Union Leader published an op-ed I wrote that focuses on the Embrace New Hampshire strategic priority and our commitment to deepen our work in the state.

In conjunction with our Student Success and Well-Being strategic priority, we recently convened a meeting of people who work with students who are at risk in terms of food, housing or other needs. We are planning to make this an ongoing committee, committed to making sure we are doing everything we can to support our most vulnerable students. One of the goals of this group will be to make it easier for students to seek help when they need it. I will report back to you as this group is established.
We have received the preliminary final report from Huron Consulting, the group that is looking at our finances. The steering committee we appointed for this effort (comprised of faculty and staff) has reviewed the draft and asked Huron to clarify a few items and do some further analysis. The president’s Executive Committee met on Monday to review the preliminary report and the steering committee’s observations about the report. The university’s leadership team will be meeting over the next month or so to determine how we will respond to their observations and recommendations. We will share our plans with you regarding this effort soon. We will also share the Huron report when it is finalized.
My book section is a bit different this month. Taking our grandchildren to see the Polar Express in Portland over the Thanksgiving holiday made me think about children’s books. Certainly, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg, has been a favorite in our family for many years. My wife Jan still can’t read the last page with dry eyes! We were recently given a copy of a wonderful book called Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, a noted New Hampshire poet. The book, which won the Caldecott Medal, portrays the life of a N.H. farm family. A long-time favorite is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Let the wild rumpus start! And we can’t forget Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, which is so popular that when you type goodnight into Google, it is the first thing that comes up! Generations of children have fallen asleep to “the quiet old lady whispering hush.” If you have favorites I haven’t mentioned, send me the titles and I will include them in future compilations.
My warmest wishes to you and your family for any and all of the holidays you will be celebrating, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s. I hope that your time between semesters will be relaxing and fulfilling.


James W. Dean Jr.