Friday, May 20, 2016

Mark Huddleston at UNHM Commencement

UNH President Mark Huddleston applauded the hard work of 264 graduates in his address at UNH Manchester's 31st annual commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19.

"Increasingly, those who study higher education across America are paying closer attention to the essential role that gritty determination plays in academic achievement, and career and lifetime success," Huddleston said in his remarks. "But at UNH Manchester, you’ve had it all along."

Huddleston led the college's commencement proceedings, which were held at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Manchester. Read his full speech below:


   Tonight, we celebrate the Class of 2016 and our graduates from December 2015.

Congratulations, graduates!

You’ve worked hard to get here. And it’s great seeing everyone so proud and excited to be here for you.

I do have one last assignment for our graduates, however. But I think you’ll like this one.

Can our graduates please lead us in welcoming some very special guests? I’m talking, of course, about your families and loved ones. Let’s give them the “standing O” they deserve! Thank you, UNH families.

They know how much this means to you. About the obstacles that you faced. The long hours you put in. The weekends you gave up.

For years now, they have stood by you as you balanced your studies with the demands of part-time and even full-time jobs, as well as your own growing families and commitments to community service.

I understand we also have 17 military veterans among our graduates. May I ask them to please stand so that we can recognize you? Thank you for your service.

Let’s also recognize the people who worked so hard to make this milestone possible. These are the folks who kept this campus beautiful and safe. They helped you fill out financial forms and line up parking passes. As members of our faculty, they challenged you to reach higher – even if that meant giving you projects that made you work all those late nights and weekends.

So, I suppose the people who sold you coffee and energy drinks should thank our faculty, too.

Let’s give our UNH family a hand.

As students, our graduates attended UNH at a historic time for our Manchester campus. In fact, you had a lead role in transforming it.

The most obvious sign of that is the wonderful, new space that we moved into last year.

The more significant transformation was personal to each of you.

It happened as you immersed yourselves in the hands-on learning experiences, and the new courses and majors that we are developing here. You became innovators in technology, research and applied science as you worked in our new classrooms and state-of-the-art labs. And you grew as problem-solvers and team players as you worked to create real solutions to the real challenges brought to us by the region’s businesses and communities.

You welcomed our new dean, Michael Decelle. In addition to being a proud UNH graduate, his background as an engineer, entrepreneur and business innovator make him ideally suited to expanding our transformation in Manchester.

In fact, the path you charted here will help shape the future of the entire University of New Hampshire.

Your academic achievements are remarkable. But what is equally important -- perhaps even more important -- to your future success is the remarkable way that you embrace hard work.

This is a quality I really love about our Manchester campus students. You come to this campus not only willing to work hard – but eager to. Your hunger for knowledge is relentless. Your desire for opportunities that will improve your lives, and lives of your families and your communities, is sincere and unwavering.

There’s an old word for this type of perseverance and resilience, one that’s coming back into style these days. It’s called grit.

Increasingly, those who study higher education across America are paying closer attention to the essential role that gritty determination plays in academic achievement, and career and lifetime success.

But at UNH Manchester, you’ve had it all along.

Each of our graduates has a remarkable story of the grit they had to get here. I wish I could share all of them. But in the interest of time, I’ll offer just one example.

Alan Provance, are you out there? Can you please stand so that we can recognize you, Alan?

Before he enrolled at UNH Manchester, Alan had already traveled far and wide and he had encountered enough challenges to last a lifetime.

He served 13 years in the National Guard, including two deployments to Iraq. In 2004, he was a gunner for a convoy escort team. And he was deployed again in 2010 as a driver. For his service in Iraq, Alan was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for professionalism and meritorious service.

He was also deployed to New Orleans to assist with the relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina. For his outstanding service there, he received the Army Achievement Medal.

Alan left the military to be with his wife and to help care for their 9-month-old son. So, while his wife worked to complete her college degree, Alan embraced his new role as a self-proclaimed “Mr. Mom.” There are no medals for parenting, but I’m sure that Alan served nobly in the face of diapers and teething pains.

Finally, it became Alan’s turn to pursue his dream of attending college and becoming a teacher. He hasn’t looked back since. Even as he and his wife had a second child, he took up to 18 credits in a semester, and he became a tutor in the Center for Academic Enrichment.

He earned an associate degree and then entered our accelerated masters of education program.

Today, he graduates with honors and bachelor’s degree in history. And he will matriculate to the graduate school.

Congratulations, Alan!

Alan is a remarkable example of the talent and grit that define our graduates. Each of you has an inspiring story to tell. And I wish I could tell them all.

But our time is short, and we have so much ahead us to celebrate.

I want to thank all of our graduates for inspiring me, and for inspiring great pride in UNH.

Congratulations! Stay in touch. May you continue your journeys with joy, great health and lifetime success.

And please visit, and let us know where your diploma takes you. We look forwarding to seeing you back as engaged UNH alumni, and helping new generations of students.

Thank you, everyone!