Alumni News

Pettee Medalist Reinvents TV
Natalie Jacobson '65, left, and Alumni Association President Paul Caswell '60 congratulate Pettee Medal winner Marcy Carsey '66.

Television producer Marcia Peterson Carsey '66 told an overflow crowd at the 1999 Pettee Medal ceremony that one of the most important lessons she learned at UNH was to trust her instincts and stay on her own course, even when it led off the beaten path.

"You UNH people taught us to be independent-minded, feisty, stubborn New Englanders," Carsey said. "There was nowhere for us to go and nothing for us to do but something different, something unique."

One of the world's most successful television producers, Carsey's work is familiar to anyone who has watched television in the last two decades. She and her partner, Tom Werner, swept the top three annual program rankings in one season with The Cosby Show, Roseanne and A Different World. No one else has done it before or since.

Carsey was presented with the Alumni Association's top award at a Johnson Theatre event on Oct. 1 that included an interview by Boston broadcast journalist Natalie Salatich Jacobson '65 in a talk-show format. The insightful and often funny interview chronicled Carsey's journey from a dorm resident in Randall Hall to an Emmy Award-winning television producer.

To create shows "worthy of their airtime," Carsey said she and Werner "always start by looking at the television schedule from the audience's perspective. As people living lives and raising children, what are we thinking about? What is on our minds? What keeps us awake at night? Then we think about what's not on television that speaks to those concerns."

At UNH, Carsey said, she learned not to be afraid of taking chances. When she and Werner first proposed The Cosby Show, networks balked, saying viewers would never accept a show about an upper middle-class black family. Persisting, they eventually sold the show to NBC. Cosby turned stereotypes upside down and, in doing so, became one of the most popular shows in television history.

Because she and Werner were both working parents, they noticed not one TV show portrayed a working mother. Thus Roseanne was born. "As you all know, it's a ridiculous situation: the idea of working eight hours and coming home and working eight more," Carsey said. "We wanted to portray it without the perks. Roseanne was not pretty, had kids who were not sitcom-perfect kids and a husband who did his best but had his own demons." Other hits followed, exploring different aspects of the American experience: Grace under Fire, That '70s Show and 3rd Rock from the Sun.

Her advice to others: "Be brave. Follow your own path. Stay true to yourself."

Scholarship Program Created

The University of New Hampshire Alumni Association will make a gift of $250,000 to The Next Horizon: The Campaign for the University of New Hampshire to create the UNH Alumni Scholars program, according to Paul Caswell '60, Alumni Association president.

"The Alumni Association is very pleased to make this gift in support of the university's campaign," Caswell said. "The gift will be used to provide merit scholarships for direct descendants of alumni. The goal is to attract talented students to the university by providing four-year scholarships."

"We're grateful and proud that the Alumni Association is making this generous contribution, which will help us to bring outstanding young men and women to UNH," said President Joan R. Leitzel. "Students and parents often manage a UNH education at the cost of substantial loans," she noted. "A key campaign goal is to endow the merit-based and need-based scholarships that will enable our students to graduate with a sense of celebration and accomplishment." The campaign will raise $28 million for student support; of that $15 million will be for undergraduate scholarships.

Rings on Their Fingers

A new class ring is now available to UNH alumni and students with 58 or more academic credits. The official University of New Hampshire class ring replaces the assortment of ring designs that had evolved over the years.

This new class ring offers two advantages, says Ernie Gale, executive director of the UNH Alumni Association. First, because it will be available only to alumni and upperclassmen, it will identify the wearer as a UNH alumnus or alumna. And secondly, the single design concept will provide a recognizable image and common tradition among alumni.

The ring is available in 10 or 14 kt. white or yellow gold. To receive a brochure or to order by phone, call 1-800-355-1145. Ring examples and brochures will also be available at the Memorial Union Building on campus.

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