Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
Like you and others around the world, I have been deeply saddened and troubled by the recent terrorist events both abroad in Sri Lanka and at a synagogue in San Diego. I want to acknowledge the pain and fear caused by these events and remind us all that Psychological and Counseling Services, Health & Wellness and local faith leaders are available to assist anyone negatively impacted.
I recently visited with alumni in Denver, Colorado and Washington, DC, and it was great to see the Wildcat spirit alive and well in these communities. I have also continued to hold office hours with students and lunches with faculty and have met with a variety of staff groups; all of these have reinforced my opinion that I am fortunate indeed to be part of this community.
I would like to provide an update on our progress with the four strategic priorities. We are now at the point of beginning to implement some of the initiatives I outlined in my January speech. I’d like to highlight four initiatives today: two that are part of Student Success and Well-Being and two that are part of Embrace New Hampshire.
The Office of the Provost is taking the lead on the effort to better understand and enhance student retention and graduation. We are collaborating with the Faculty Senate to make interventions that should begin to show impact by next academic year. There are four retention working groups: early assessment and engagement; first-year programming, including orientation; sophomore year retention; and retention data gathering. Each working group will be submitting their recommendations to the provost at the end of the academic year. Some of the initiatives, like the pilot on early intervention in select gateway courses and moving to two-day orientations for all sessions, are already in place, whereas other initiatives will be rolled out during the next academic year. These will be shared once they are finalized.
We have completed data collection on the Climate Survey, which should help us to better understand opportunities to make UNH a more welcoming place for all, and to enhance well-being for students, staff, and faculty. It will be a few months before we have access to this analysis, and I will update you then.
One of the initiatives supporting Embrace New Hampshire is to form a Business Advisory Council. I am pleased to report that we have gotten agreement from 10 business leaders in New Hampshire to be part of the council and we hope to have the first meeting soon. Once the council is finalized, I will share more details about the council and who will be participating. This will give us an opportunity to better understand and support the NH business community, as well as helping them to better understand how they can support the needs of the university and especially our students.
Finally, we have worked with leaders in many sectors of New Hampshire, including our state lawmakers, to identify the most important issues facing the state. Four issues emerged: (1) environment and energy, (2) education at all levels, (3) the economy and workforce, and (4) healthcare, including mental health and substance abuse (these are not in priority order). Our next step is to survey the campuses to identify all of the ways in which, through research and outreach, UNH is engaging in these issues. This will give us a better basis to convey what UNH is already doing for N.H., and also provide opportunities to take on new challenges.
That’s all for now. Thanks to everyone who is helping to move these initiatives forward, and to continue to enhance the quality and performance of the University of New Hampshire.
My warmest wishes for an enjoyable and productive end of the spring semester!