Every four years, our students can enjoy front-row seats for a uniquely New Hampshire tradition and one of the world’s most closely watched political events: the first-in-the-nation primary. It’s a ritual that also comes with some truly remarkable opportunities. Since the fall semester began, our students in Durham, Manchester and Concord have been able to see — and often, meet —candidates, news media personalities and renowned policy experts. In the process, some of our Wildcats also become adept at achieving the new gold standard for the student-voter experience: selfies with the candidates.
Certainly, the primary adds a new level of excitement at our campuses and across the Granite State to a healthy exchange of ideas about nation’s future. It also offers an unparalleled educational experience to our students, a showcase for UNH research and a wonderful opportunity to share our beautiful campus with a global audience.
It is because of the special place our university and our state hold in the presidential election cycle that this entire issue of UNH Magazine is devoted to politics — from an expert-eye look at the importance of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status to a historical view of student voting rights to a snapshot of some of the many UNH alums who have made careers in retail politics, public policy and current affairs.
I expect a number of alumni reading this issue will recall joining with students here and across the country to help pass the 26th Amendment in 1971, which granted those age 18 or older the right to vote. Others will remember becoming active in political campaigns for the first time as UNH students, or cutting their teeth on one of our political internship programs in Washington, D.C., or at the New Hampshire State House. Today, the UNH community can be proud of our increasingly prominent role in the New Hampshire primary and indeed the quadrennial election cycle: from hosting “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd, who appeared recently for the Rutman Distinguished Lecture Series on the American Presidency, to the new course we launched this fall, “First! Understanding New Hampshire’s Presidential Primary”— available online to anyone in the world for free and taught by political science professors Dante Scala and Andrew Smith.
Beyond playing a prominent role in the election cycle, UNH also provides vital research and expertise that helps inform the policies and solutions that improve society. For example, a year ago, UNH opened the Carsey School of Public Policy with a $20 million gift from Marcy Carsey ’66. Today, guided by founding director Michael Ettlinger, the Carsey School is in the thick of important national conversations, including the “opportunity gap” facing children from different socioeconomic backgrounds, immigration and small business entrepreneurship. Just this fall, the school introduced a new masters in public policy program. A year from now, it will open its doors as the school’s flagship program, offering students a wide array of options, including concentrations in policy analysis and strategy and communications.
The common theme running through these examples and this issue of UNH Magazine is this: The experience of politics at UNH is anything but passive. Our students, faculty and community members have tremendous opportunities to engage, to shape conversation and to change their own lives and the
lives of others. It is a privilege to witness the many ways in
which this unique front-row experience inspires our graduates in their careers, public service and civic engagement throughout their lives.
Originally published in UNH Magazine—Fall 2015 Issue