The View from T-Hall

Moving Forward

It is my pleasure to extend autumn greetings to you from UNH. I am honored to return to this great university as interim president, and I anticipate a wonderful period of service to a place I know and love well. Let me share just a few of the observations I have made since my return in June.

Having served previously as interim dean of the Whittemore School of Business and Economics, and as assistant dean and dean of students, I recognize the many gifts that UNH offers to its state and the world. I also appreciate its challenges.

One of the first challenges we faced together this fall as an institution was the public concern and, in many cases, the public outcry on a matter involving academic freedom and our position regarding Professor William Woodward and his unorthodox views regarding the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. I want to be as clear with our alumni and friends as I was to individuals who took the time to write and call. First and foremost, be assured that UNH does not agree with Professor Woodward's point of view. In fact, most members of the UNH community vehemently disagree with him, as do the majority of Americans.

However, as I hope you can appreciate, the university is committed to the appropriate measured exercise of academic freedom and free speech, even when this may result in public conversations that are unsettling to many. The university encourages the open inquiry of ideas, and respects the freedom, rights and responsibilities of all members of our community. Though at times we may disagree, as we do in this instance, we stand firm in our commitment to the principles and inherent responsibilities of academic freedom, the freedom of speech and the pursuit of truth.

We are equally committed to the quality of UNH's academic programs and the overall student experience. We have earned a fine reputation as a public research university with a talented faculty, who are the core of all that we do here. We are a strong institution that is poised to move forward with distinction.

I emphasize the word forward because of another challenge we face this semester: as you may have read or heard, the administration and the UNH chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) reached an impasse during their contract negotiations in early October. This step is part of the routine process when two sides cannot agree. The next step, mediation with a neutral third party, is being scheduled. I can assure you that in the meantime our students will continue to benefit from our excellent instructional and research programs.

We are moving forward in other ways. A spirit of discovery pervades our culture, including our inquiry-based approach to education, which provides interdisciplinary courses taught by senior faculty members. Our faculty researchers are nationally and internationally known for their work. Their research is linked to outreach programs that contribute to the common good.

We serve our state as well. UNH faculty and students are closely connected to every health and human service agency in New Hampshire. Numerous UNH programs support economic growth throughout the state, and we are important partners with the state's robust high technology sector. As a key resource for a superbly trained workforce, we are a critical part of New Hampshire's and the nation's future success. Our commitment to high-quality education also extends--through important collaborations--to the elementary and secondary levels.

I am proud of, and impressed by, all that UNH has to offer. The opportunities are extraordinary. Members of the Class of 2010, our largest to date, join a vibrant learning community that will help them become confident and informed leaders. We expect our students to yearn for knowledge and to be willing to push the envelope in their pursuit of it.

The education these fine young people receive is invaluable, but it is also very expensive. The state provides 14.2 percent of the university's annual operating budget, and tuition revenue, fees, room and board (excluding financial aid) contribute another 45 percent. We work very hard to ensure that every dollar is maximized and managed wisely, and yet we still must rely on support from alumni and friends.

That is why your contributions make a big difference in the quality and content of a UNH education. When you give of your time, your experience or your financial generosity, you are supporting students who are at once a part of UNH's history and its future. In a few short years they will assume alumni status and begin a lifelong connection with you, their fellow alumni.

If you happen to be in the Durham area, I hope you will take time to visit and rediscover your university. In the meantime, if you have questions or suggestions as we continue to lead this great institution through the challenges of the 21st century, I hope you will feel free to contact me.

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