Dear Faculty, Staff and Students –
As I write this, the glow from our recent commencement ceremonies has not yet worn off. I was so impressed by the accomplishments of our graduates and the challenges they had overcome, as well as by the tremendous work of our faculty and staff to educate and support our students and to execute a seamless commencement event. It was indeed a great day to be a Wildcat! Click here for a short video of the day.
Thanks to the incredible support of partners across campus, I’m so pleased to let you know that the (603) Challenge posted record setting results in its fifth year. The (603) Challenge has grown every year, but this year was exceptional, with nearly 7,100 donors (including nearly 700 faculty and staff) contributing over $1.2 million. This is a nearly 40 percent increase in both donors and dollars raised over last year’s challenge. The (603) Challenge provides philanthropic support for more than 250 campus programs.
I am happy to announce a new initiative in support of one of our four strategic priorities, to Expand Academic Excellence. The Postdoctoral Diversity and Innovation Scholars program is attracting top scholars to UNH, with the first cohort expected in COLSA in Fall 2019. The program, supported through the provost’s office, provides professional development support including teaching and research activities to prepare the scholars as future faculty in departments with anticipated faculty openings in upcoming years.
I have both good and bad news about our budget for fiscal year 2020. The good news is that Governor Sununu, the House and the Senate have all proposed various funding increases for the University System. While the state budget is far from final, their desire to support higher education and the positive tone of our conversations are very encouraging. The bad news is that, while results are still coming in, it looks as if we will miss our enrollment targets for next year by a few hundred students. We have already begun a series of meetings to understand how to significantly change these results for subsequent budget years, but for the immediate future they represent a fiscal challenge we will need to address as we work together to Build Financial Strength, another of our strategic priorities.
Some of you have noticed that I haven’t mentioned any books I have read in the last couple of updates. While my reading time has been in short supply lately, I have been making my way through The Life of Thomas More, by Peter Ackroyd. It is a dense but informative look at this remarkable character in English history. But for my visit to the beach in June I will be bringing the latest by our commencement speaker David Brooks: The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life. I found his speech compelling and want to learn more.
My sincere best wishes for a productive, peaceful and enjoyable summer to all!