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Campus Currents

UNH Commencement Scene
Over 2,300 new graduates joined the ranks of UNH alumni this spring. Photo by Gary Samson

Cool Heads, Hot Hearts

Class of 2000 graduates were encouraged to have "a cool head and a hot heart" as more than 2,300 students celebrated their graduation at Commencement on May 20.

David Gergen, former advisor to four U.S. presidents and editor-at-large at U.S. News & World Report, told the audience, "As John Updike said, 'We have learned to live well, but not how to live nobly.' What will make the difference is if new graduates like you have the wisdom and the passion to bring us into the promised land."

University President Joan Leitzel opened the ceremony, saying, "Success can be defined in more than 2,300 ways today." She noted that the addition of the Class of 2000 to alumni ranks brings the total of living UNH alumni to more than 100,000.

Faculty Senate chairman Pedro de Alba, a professor of civil engineering, became a hard act to follow when he delivered a caustic critique of state support of education. "I've lived here over 20 years," he said, "but I never cease to be surprised at how little value our state government places on public education."

De Alba noted that New Hampshire has in-state tuition "among the highest" and students who graduate with "about the highest education debt load in the country." His speech received a standing ovation.

Among the more than 20,000 relatives and friends in the audience was Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, whose daughter Stacey earned a degree in political science in a little more than three years.

In his own speech, Gergen followed up on de Alba's remarks by noting that he has spoken at many state universities, and that they all are "at the center of an economic boom in their states." It's expensive to support those universities, he said, "but in every case, the citizens are happy to do so, because the rewards are self-evident, and the benefits are enormous."

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