January 25, 2021
Dear Staff, Faculty and Students,
As I write this, we are preparing to enter the spring 2021 semester. Like most people, I have just about run out of adjectives to describe this time: unprecedented, uncertain and surreal are some favorites. But between our success in the fall and the slow but steady distribution of the COVID vaccine, I am optimistic about our future. Please continue to do everything necessary to be safe. These methods have served us well so far; let’s not let our guard down now!
I will give the State of the University address on Tuesday, Feb. 9, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. With help from several colleagues, I will address how we have responded to COVID, the values we need to uphold given the current political climate, our progress on diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as what we have accomplished on our strategic priorities. There will be time for Q&A; I hope you will join us. Here is the Zoom information for the event: https://unh.zoom.us/j/99592263606 o r telephone: 1 646 876 9923; webinar ID: 995 9226 3606.
As part of our extensive efforts to address diversity, equity and inclusion, we have signed the pledge for CEO ACT!ON for Diversity & Inclusion. In doing so we have joined the leaders of over 1,600 business and not-for-profit organizations who have made commitments in this area. We are excited about continuing to learn from other organizations.
We have made the difficult decision to close the UNH Confucius Institute (CI). The CI-UNH has made possible education in Chinese language and culture for UNH students and the broader community for the past 10 years. However, due to amplified concerns in Washington about security and influence, the federal government has made it increasingly difficult for us to operate the Institute, including the real possibility of losing significant federal research funding if we do not do so. We hope to continue our strong partnership with Chengdu University, which antedates CI-UNH, as well as other international universities in China and beyond.
I mentioned in my December update that we would be holding a discussion of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Leadership in Turbulent Times this month. The discussion will be Tuesday, Jan. 26 (tomorrow) at 7 p.m. I will be joined in the discussion by Paul College Dean Deborah Merrill-Sands and History Professor Jason Sokol. Here is the Zoom link. I hope you will join us, even if you have not had time to read the book. The book’s focus on American presidents—Abraham Lincoln, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson—facing major national crises, could not be more current.
February is Black History Month. If you would like to see the activities planned to commemorate this month, click here. To see the books I am reading for Black History Month (which are pretty great!), click here.
Warmest wishes for your success in the spring semester.
James W. Dean Jr.