Tuesday, March 10, 2020
John Laymon

FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS, I have truly enjoyed participating in and making a positive impact on diversity at UNH — a never-ending journey.

I came to UNH in 1969 on a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. academic scholarship and graduated in 1973 as the first black American to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the university. I also lettered in varsity basketball. After graduation, I became an adviser to the mechanical engineering department, served on the UNH Foundation board of directors, worked closely with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) and maintained a close relationship with the athletic department. In 2008, I was honored to be inducted into the UNH Diversity Hall of Fame, which became inactive a few years later due to a lack of support and funding. Believing that more black alumni deserved recognition, I worked with former OMSA director Sean McGhee to plan a UNH Pioneer Black Alumni, Family and Friends Reunion and Diversity Hall of Fame induction ceremony. In 2015 and 2017, the events were primarily self-funded, with UNH providing support for students to attend the dinner.

In 2019, with added support from the Alumni Association and the participation of UNH president Jim Dean, the event was expanded to include all areas of diversity and was a huge success. It was great reuniting with old friends and especially rewarding to share with current students the contributions and accomplishments of those who helped pave the way for them. It created the opportunity for student athletes, members of campus organizations like MOS DEF (Men of Strength: Diversity, Education and Family), the LGBTQ community, the National Society of Black Engineers, and other students and administrators to gather for a common cause and get to know each other.


GET INVOLVED: Alumni programs such as the Diversity Hall of Fame, Reunion Weekend and alumni networks exist because of alumni who want to share their passion with UNH. There is a role for any alum who wants to get involved and we’re happy to help you find the right fit. To learn more, email alumni@unh.edu.