An Uncommon Commencement
Page 5 of 5

President George H. W. Bush is greeted by UNH Interim President Bonnie Newman on commencement morning.

Honorary degrees were then awarded to the two presidents; John Lawrence LaMattina '75G, a chemist and former president of Pfizer Global Research and Development; and James Thomson '66, president and CEO of Rand Corp., a nonprofit global policy think tank. Granite State Awards were presented to George Bald, commissioner of New Hampshire's Department of Resources and Economic Development; and Dr. James Squires, president of New Hampshire's Endowment for Health. The final honorary degree was given to a surprised Bonnie Newman in recognition of her leadership as interim president.

While a UNH jazz quartet played, graduates received their diplomas (well, the covers anyway) from the deans of their respective schools and flipped their mortarboard tassels from right to left. The Class of 2007 was officially welcomed into the UNH Alumni Association. And then Nancy Kinner sent them on their way, serenading, a cappella, "Happy trails to you . . . until we meet again." ~

C.W. Wolff is a freelance writer who lives in Kittery, Maine.

Sweeping Durham

Nearly 200 police and other security officers gathered at 5 a.m. on May 19 in Holloway Commons for a breakfast briefing. Briefing first. Then breakfast. "I appreciate that you are going to be out there with good humor," UNH Interim President J. Bonnie Newman told the crowd of bleary-eyed but crisply uniformed officers. "Keep smiling and stay dry." Outside, the only sign that day was breaking was a slow, gray lightening of the sky--from black to slate gray, as the previous night's rainstorm converted into cloud cover.

CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? A Secret Service agent asks Wild E. Cat for identification.

Outside, the only sign that day was breaking was a slow, gray lightening of the sky--from black to slate gray, as the previous night's rainstorm converted into cloud cover.

UNH Deputy Police Chief Paul Dean had prepared a 32-page booklet for the officers, outlining protocols, assignments and contingencies. He pointed out some of the potential trouble spots, including a chlorine tank that would be guarded constantly and the railroad underpass Presidents George H.W. Bush and William J. Clinton would have to pass through on their way to the stadium. "It is absolutely critical that nothing be compromised on the railroad track," he told the officers.

Amtrak security officers were among the 182 law enforcement personnel present, which also included officers from Durham, Laconia, Newmarket, Bow and Lee, N.H.; the state police; Secret Service; Transportation Security Administration; U.S. Air Marshals; Strafford, Hillsborough and Belknap sheriffs' departments; the state's Office of Emergency Management and the National Guard.

A four-person SWAT team was on site in an unmarked van, Dean said, "in case of a shooter, God forbid." Also available were a medical team for the presidents, red-jacketed EMS teams for everyone else, police on mountain bikes, a team to monitor weather and another to monitor the air for chemical, biological and nuclear poisons.

"If you see the National Guard putting on masks, it means we are having a bad day," Dean said, with a small smile.

Sweeps of all the public areas by both humans and explosive-sniffing dogs had begun the night before and would continue during the ceremonies. Officers also watched for suspicious behavior.

"By design, we wanted to have a low-key approach and not interrupt the event," said Dean, who, the Monday after, concluded everything had transpired without a single glitch. "Everything worked exactly as it should."

-- CWW

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