September 29, 2021
Dear Faculty and Staff,
It was great to see so many of you at University Day last week. The weather (finally) cooperated, and it was wonderful to feel the vibrancy of our Durham campus once again. I often ask students during my office hours what is the best thing about UNH, and an increasingly common answer is the wide range of opportunities at UNH. But I was still amazed at the number of options for students I saw represented there. Thanks to everyone who helped to pull this off.
Chief Paul Dean likes to say that this year we are managing COVID, rather than letting COVID manage us, and I agree. The measures we have taken together are working, and our positivity rate for tests remains below one percent. Thank you to everyone for pulling together under difficult circumstances so that we can continue to pursue our university mission in Concord, Durham, and Manchester. Let’s keep this up, so that we can have as open, productive, and enjoyable an academic year as possible.
UNH leadership has received a lot of feedback about pain points associated with the FAR (Finance and Administrative Restructuring) including research, IT and HR. We are actively working on a set of plans to address the concerns and more broadly to ensure that FAR and associated changes come to a successful conclusion. Please look for a forthcoming communication with more details.
I am happy to share three pieces of good news. The first is our new ranking for Best Value Schools, among National Universities, which is one of our nine strategic metrics . We have been #13 among public universities in the last two rankings, and this year we moved up to #10, and we are now also first among public universities in New England. This metric combines the value of a UNH education with the actual cost to students after scholarships and financial aid. As a public university, providing a quality education at a reasonable cost is central to our mission, so we particularly welcome this recognition.
The second piece of good news comes from FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), whose 2021 rankings put UNH at #3 nationally for our values and practices regarding free speech and inquiry. We are the highest-ranked public university in the country, behind only Claremont McKenna College and the University of Chicago. Despite this positive recognition, we will continue to work to ensure that all faculty, staff and students enjoy the academic freedom and freedom of speech that they should expect in a university environment.
Our third good news item comes from the Sierra Club, who continues to rank us among the top (#9 this year among 328 participating institutions) “Cool Schools” for our commitment to sustainability. My hat is off to everyone across UNH who has worked for decades to make us one of the most sustainable universities anywhere. I think it is fair to say that we practiced sustainability before it was cool!
So, a great month overall for our great university. We are managing COVID effectively, and we have received national recognition for the value of our education and our commitment to free speech and sustainability. I continue to be proud and honored to serve you as your president.
All best wishes,
James W. Dean Jr.
P.S. -- If you are interested in what I have been reading, please click here.