Update No. 7 from President Dean

Dear Staff, Students, and Faculty Colleagues – 
With the snow banks melting and the days getting longer, I am beginning to understand why people in New Hampshire get giddy about spring arriving.
I want to begin by providing an update on our strategic direction. In my January talk on our strategic priorities, I committed the university to becoming one of the nation’s top 25 public universities on a number of important dimensions of academic performance. After considerable research and deliberation, here are the metrics we will focus on in the coming years, along with our current rank among public universities. 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 (current rank 34). 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.
  • Graduation rate for Pell Grant students (current rank 39). This captures our ability to help students who come from families with limited means to experience the economic opportunities available to college graduates.
  • Percentage loan repayment (current rank 17). This captures our graduates’ ability to repay their loans, which is an indirect measure of their career preparation and success.
  • Percentage of first-year students in the top 10% of their high school class (current rank 135). This captures our ability to attract the best and brightest to UNH.
  • Student participation in high-impact educational practices (current rank forthcoming). Research has shown that certain activities (e.g. internships and research) make a big difference in student success post-graduation.
  • Best value (current rank 10). This measures the quality of a UNH education relative to its cost.
  • Ratio of administrative to instructional expenses (current rank 131). This addresses how efficiently we perform administrative work at UNH.
  • Sustainability (current rank 2). This assesses our stewardship of the environment, which is important to our university, to our students, and to our constituencies.
  • Research funding per faculty member (current rank 53). This is an assessment of the research productivity of our faculty.

As you can see, we are already in the top 25 on some of these metrics, close on others, and on a couple we have a long way to go. These metrics can be found at unh.edu/future. From that link, you can also see the list of the top 50 public universities on each metric and see the data sources we are using for each one. We will update our performance on these metrics as they change. In my April update, I will focus on the initiatives we will pursue to address the four strategic priorities and to achieve these goals.
Starting on April 1, Provost Jones and I will be participating in the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge and I encourage you to sign up and participate as well. The challenge is designed to create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits. By taking part, you’ll receive brief daily email prompts with engaging videos, short readings or audio recordings that you can open at your convenience. This is a great effort, launched five years ago by the UNH Sustainability Institute and Food Solutions New England, which will host a kick-off event on April 1 at 12 p.m. in the Strafford Room of the MUB.
Finally, I would like to ask you one more time to fill out the campus climate survey. This survey provides important information to UNH about the state of our campus community, and will provide us ideas for how to improve it. The well-being of our faculty, students, and staff is important to me and to our campus leadership team. Please help us to make it better. We are not yet at the 30 percent response rate we need to draw reliable conclusions. You have until Friday, April 5 to do this, but please do it now!
Warm wishes to all,

James W. Dean, Jr.