The View from T-Hall

Stewards of the Future

In April, I suspect it was a pleasure for everyone in New Hampshire to finally see the first spring snowdrops and daffodils emerge from the cold ground. It was a long, hard winter, and I for one was glad to put on a pair of walking shoes and stride out in the cool air and sunshine that has stimulated such dramatic and joyous growth.

This spring reminds me of the promise and productivity of UNH. I believe it is said that a good farmer makes both short-term and long-term investments. Short term has to do with the coming season; the long term looks to seasons that are decades, even generations ahead. A farmer who is a good steward plans for the short and long term. In higher education, for the students and the state, good stewards do the same.

In the short term, a thriving state university is the institution of choice for qualified students from the state's high schools and provides them with an excellent education. Students are much more likely to remain after graduation in the state where they studied. Over their working lives, a college-educated person will earn double what an individual with a high school education will earn. And the need to educate citizens is growing, as New Hampshire faces shortages in a range of fields from teaching to engineering.

While UNH offers a top education in a wealth of academic fields, as well as need-based and merit scholarships, the key to retaining our state's own is making UNH accessible and affordable. Every biennium, we work with the governor and the state legislature in an attempt to keep tuition increases to the bare minimum and to maintain the quality of our academic programs.

Over the long term, investment in higher education recognizes that a state university can serve as an economic engine for the state and that state residents are the beneficiaries of its research, partnerships and cultural offerings.

There are so many examples of this symbiosis between UNH and the state. Hundreds of our alumni have launched businesses in New Hampshire. A recent example is Docutron Systems in Rollinsford, N.H., launched last fall by communication major Jamie Thompson '02 and William Thibodeau, a senior majoring in computer science. Small businesses are the backbone of New Hampshire's economy: the vast majority of the state's 35,000 businesses employ fewer than 20 people.

More than 100 businesses are working directly with UNH researchers, often on projects that involve graduate students or undergraduate interns. Research by the Center for Freshwater Biology and the Cooperative Institute for New England Mariculture and Fisheries, for example, has helped establish both fresh water and marine aquaculture ventures. The work of management professor Ross Gittell illustrates how UNH policy and analytical research benefits the state through engagement with our broader communities in joint research and scholarship.

With state and federal support, UNH offers programs such as the New Hampshire Industrial Research Center, which in the past decade has helped state businesses generate $200 million in sales and more than 2,800 new jobs. Another example is a UNH professor of information systems, A.R. Venkatachalam, who is working on a critical infrastructure "virtual" library portal as part of a federal homeland security project.

Many of UNH's numerous environmental research projects are not only addressing issues of national or worldwide concern, they are tackling them right here in New Hampshire. The Biotoxins Lab has pioneered studies of the occurrence of liver and nerve toxins in New Hampshire lakes. The Bedrock Bioremediation Center is working to cost-effectively monitor and clean up contaminated bedrock at the Pease International Tradeport.

Other programs at UNH benefit the health, safety and education of state residents, from the Speech-Language-Hearing Center to UNH's Cooperative Extension, with staff in all New Hampshire counties. UNH also offers a treasure every year of art exhibits, music, jazz and opera, theater and dance performances both on campus and in many of the state's communities.

UNH is a good steward of higher education in New Hampshire and I look forward to working with the state's leadership to insure that there will be good stewardship for the generations that follow.

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