Since joining the university community last summer, I’ve enjoyed one of the best assignments a new “student” could hope for: Meet everyone you possibly can who’s connected to UNH, learn about their experiences and find out their aspirations for our university. Okay, I actually assigned myself that project. It’s not only been a great perk of being the new president of UNH but one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
I’m truly grateful to the thousands of people I met who care deeply about UNH and the work we do for the Granite State: Students, faculty, staff and Wildcat families at our three campuses. Alumni across New Hampshire and in Boston, New York, Washington and Atlanta. Lawmakers, business partners and community leaders. Prospective students and their parents who attended our Fall Open House. I visited Wolfeboro, Whitefield and Waterville Valley — and those were just the “W” towns.
Certainly, my first semester confirmed what a special community this is, and how fortunate I am to serve UNH.
Last month, I shared with the UNH community the essence of what came out of my self-assigned semester in the form of a new plan that will inspire our work together over the coming months and years. “The Future of UNH: Four Strategic Priorities” reflects some familiar pillars of UNH education: Student success and well-being, academic excellence, New Hampshire impact and a strong financial base. What’s new are the bold aspirations and exciting initiatives that will be the focus of our work in these strategic areas. Our overarching aspiration is to be one of the nation’s top 25 public universities in the most important dimensions of academic performance. Among our initiatives are a new UNH Honors College, a new business council, expanded outreach to the state’s high schools and a financial management system to help UNH be even more efficient.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to visit www.unh.edu/future to learn more about the new plan. I’d love to hear what you think — about the plan, about your hopes for the university, about what New Hampshire town I should visit next. At the same time, I trust that this guest column — yet another assignment I set for myself at the start of the school year — won’t be the only time you hear from me in the pages of UNH Magazine.
James W. “Jim” Dean Jr.