During my last year of high school, my parents and guidance counselor underscored a simple truth: "College is what you make of it."
So I began my college career in earnest. During my first week at UNH, I settled into Hunter Hall, met my future wife (Marilyn McLaughlin Hickey '73), connected with new (now lifelong) friends and encountered faculty and staff from the College of Liberal Arts who would help shape and advance my success at UNH. My four years in Durham did not always go as smoothly, but I graduated with the knowledge and confidence I needed to find success in ways that I had never imagined.
My 37-year career has been a journey. Marilyn and I have lived and worked in communities around New Hampshire as well as Connecticut, New York City and Washington, D.C. My career reflects the value of a good UNH liberal arts education, where learning is meant to be applied to diverse endeavors. To wit: seven years as a rural land use planner and economic development specialist, three years as a chamber of commerce executive, two years as director of economic development for New Hampshire, and 25 years as a Verizon executive. From 1997- 2004, I served as president of Verizon New Hampshire. After six years as Verizon's vice president of government affairs for national security policy in Washington, D.C., I retired last year.
I'm not just a UNH enthusiast. I'm a believer. Marilyn and I have stayed engaged with UNH through our work and volunteer endeavors. I've served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors since 2007, chaired the Pettee Medal committee and received the Granite State Award for outstanding community service. Marilyn served on the original UNH Manchester Advisory Board. We've contributed to the President's Fund for Excellence and UNH Athletics, and endowed the Dr. William F. McLaughlin '35 Hockey Scholarship.
As your new Alumni Association president, I'll work in earnest to advance meaningful outcomes in the year ahead, relying heavily on a talented staff and board (meet them at www.alumni.unh.edu/board/.)
Our top priorities for 2011-12 stem from President Huddleston's strategic plan. They include strengthening two-way communications between the university and alumni, enhancing year-round reunions, and proactively engaging alumni about the future of UNH. Of course, we'll need the support of alumni to make measurable progress.
UNH alumni are a force more than 130,000 strong. And although we have varied backgrounds, interests and professions, we share a common thread: UNH. This heritage connects us all.
For most of us, the tempo of our lives has quickened since our days in Durham and Manchester. After graduation, we became naturally preoccupied with work and family and placed many of our "outside" obligations on hold. We may have had the best of intentions to re-engage with UNH when we found the time. As a result, many opportunities to rekindle once-important relationships have lost the necessary spark.
But with all that's going on in the university community right now, this is a great time to get reconnected. As a point of departure, consider making plans today to visit or revisit your campus with a virtual tour or an old-fashioned road trip. Take a fresh look in the pages of this magazine at how your college is contributing to the world we live in. While you're in the zone, reach out to an old friend or professor to renew a valued relationship. And plan now to attend a reunion or a local chapter event.
Most importantly, reflect on the role that UNH has played in your success. And then consider leveraging that success to benefit an institution that helped get you there.
In the spirit of more effective two-way communications, please don't hesitate to contact me with your questions, ideas and concerns. Call me today at (603) 862-2040 or (800) 891-1195, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for those of you who tweet, follow me on Twitter at @MikeHickeyUNH. ~