Dear Staff, Faculty and Students –
At this point, I would like to think that we have rounded the bend on winter, but only time will tell!
Thanks to everyone who came to our four recent town hall meetings. My colleagues and I appreciated the opportunity to speak with so many of you and answer your thoughtful questions. As we announced at these meetings, our Huron implementation teams have started their work. We will keep you posted as this work progresses. Meanwhile, I encourage you to check our Building Financial Strength web page for regular updates.
I have recently visited with alumni in Florida, and will soon be visiting with others in Texas and Arizona. It is great to see such UNH school spirit so far from New Hampshire. The stories that alumni tell me from the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s and beyond provide a real sense of both the continuity and the evolution of our university. Two things stand out: Alumni remember fondly the faculty and staff who helped them during their time at UNH, and they make lifelong friendships, many of which are on display at these alumni events.
We have held two recent events for elected New Hampshire leaders. The first, at the president’s residence, was for state representatives and senators from the Seacoast. The second, held in Concord and hosted by the University System of New Hampshire, was available to all representatives and senators. Both were very well attended, and gave us a chance to discuss the great work that is being done at UNH and our contributions to the state’s welfare.
We have several searches going on, including deans for CEPS and COLSA, as well as our chief diversity officer. Provost Wayne Jones has also appointed search committees for the Senior Vice Provost for Student Life and the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. We will keep you posted as these searches progress.
As February is Black History Month, I thought I would mention a few of my favorite books by or about African Americans. First, Just Mercy by attorney Bryan Stevenson, tells the story of his defense of African American men in the South who had been unjustly convicted of many crimes, including murder. I have not seen the movie, but the book makes one question deeply the justice of the criminal justice system. Another book worth reading is The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward Baptist. He tells the story of the westward expansion of slavery in the decades preceding the Civil War, and argues that much of the strength of the American economy derives from the enslavement of millions of people over centuries, and their hard labor on plantations and elsewhere. Finally, since I can’t decide among several books I have read by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, I will name them all: Beloved (of course), Song of Solomon, Jazz, and Home. Each of these books increases one’s appreciation of the African American experience, the American experience and simply the human experience.
All best wishes for a successful semester,
James W. Dean Jr.