Information on Gov. Sununu's Proposed Higher Education Merger

February 12, 2021

Dear Colleagues –
 
The University System of New Hampshire (USNH) Board of Trustees issued the below statement about Governor Sununu’s plan for integration of USNH with the Community College System of New Hampshire. At UNH, we share the governor’s and the board’s aspirations for an effective, efficient and well-coordinated system of higher education in New Hampshire. In conversations with board leadership, I have come to understand that they see significant benefits for USNH in general and UNH in particular if this plan comes to fruition, and I think that these benefits are indeed plausible. There are many steps remaining for this change to take place, and the nature of the plan could change along the way. For now, however, I am optimistic that this change will be positive for New Hampshire in general and for the University of New Hampshire. Of course, as this unfolds we will continue as always to focus on and pursue our mission, aspiration and strategic priorities. I will be working closely with the board on this and will keep you informed as it unfolds.

Regards,

James W. Dean Jr.
President

University System of New Hampshire Statement on Proposed Merger with
Community College System of New Hampshire

The University System of New Hampshire (USNH) Board of Trustees strongly supports Governor Chris Sununu’s visionary and timely plan to create one system of higher education in New Hampshire. The Board believes that joining USNH with the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) is the best possible approach to securing, for the long term, the state’s capacity to offer all its residents affordable, accessible, and diverse pathways to a high quality education, from technical certificates to advanced graduate degrees to programs for lifelong learning and professional growth. One of the hallmarks of the state’s higher education systems is the diversity of mission and capability among its eleven institutions. The Governor’s plan makes it possible to take full advantage of the capabilities shared by our member institutions while preserving the diversity and excellence represented in their missions and identities. 

The USNH Board is deeply concerned about the accelerating structural trends challenging higher education across the country and the growing financial pressures these trends are forcing upon our students and their families, our member institutions, and the state’s budget. We believe the unified governance structure called for in the Governor’s plan best enables the state to strategically and proactively address these ongoing threats. It is an essential next step in the journey toward securing the long-term financial health of our public higher education institutions and preserving – indeed, enhancing - the many and diverse contributions of public higher education to our local and statewide economies. 

We are cognizant of the critical role public higher education will play in advancing our state as we recover from the pandemic and believe the Governor’s call to combine the two disparate systems into one would create a stronger, more competitive, more efficient, and more sustainable driver of the state’s economic and cultural well-being than two separate systems. We look forward to working with the Governor, the legislature, and especially our esteemed colleagues at CCSNH as we chart this new path toward the future of public higher education in New Hampshire.