June 3, 2021
Dear Staff, Faculty and Students—
We made it! Through your efforts we were able to complete the spring 2021 semester successfully and to hold eight in-person commencement ceremonies in Concord, Durham and Manchester for the classes of 2020 and 2021. Commencement ceremonies always remind me why it is an honor to work in higher education, and these were no exception. To see students walk (some actually pranced) across the stage after navigating the myriad challenges of COVID-19 inspired all who attended, including me. Here are two brief videos that recap the ceremonies: class of ’20 and class of ’21. Thank you to everyone who made this possible. The determination, resourcefulness and dedication to students among the UNH community were on full display. The only downside of attending so many ceremonies is that Pomp and Circumstance (the official theme music of commencement) may haunt my dreams for quite some time!
We are in the process of submitting our budget for the upcoming academic and fiscal year. While we still face financial challenges, the Huron expense management projects and the CERP early retirement initiative have moved us in a positive direction. We also have seen positive trends in enrollment at both the graduate and undergraduate level. I will share more details on this once enrollment stabilizes in a month or two.
I am happy to report that we have hired a new chief financial officer for the university. Marcel Vernon will be joining us this summer. He has decades of financial and leadership experience in the private sector and government, and currently works for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Thank you to the faculty and staff who served on the search committee. I am excited about Marcel joining our senior leadership team.
You may recall that one of our strategic priorities is to build financial strength. The items above are helping us to do this, but I believe that, in addition to managing expenses, we need to take steps to substantially increase revenue to the university (as they say in business, you cannot cut your way to greatness). For this reason, I have secured permission from the Board of Trustees to create a new position, chief marketing officer. This individual’s primary responsibility will be to work with faculty and staff to identify new programs, which could be graduate or undergraduate (or neither), for credit or not, online or not, and so on. We have immense intellectual assets at UNH and this individual will help us to leverage them to create a more secure financial future for the institution. A national search will start shortly.
Please accept my best wishes for a restful and rejuvenating summer. I respectfully ask that you take some time off—I even delayed my May update to try to model good Memorial Day holiday etiquette! The world is opening up again and there is a lot out there to enjoy. Let’s all begin to enjoy the glorious New Hampshire summer!
All best wishes,
James W. Dean Jr.
P.S. -- If you are interested in what I have been reading, click here.