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President's Column

Thompson Hall

The Next Horizon is in Sight

By President Joan R. Leitzel

When the university announced a five-year campaign to raise $100 million in private gifts on Oct. 2, 1999, I knew that it had the potential to change UNH in dramatic and significant ways. But none of us who joined together to launch The Next Horizon campaign that day dreamed how quickly the impact of private support would be felt. Because of the prompt and generous response of the university's alumni and friends, the campaign has already raised $66 million and is two-thirds of the way toward its goal. The swift pace of fund raising and the fact that we have received $48 million in cash gifts, rather than pledges or planned gifts, mean that this new private support is already making a difference in our ability to educate students, conduct research and serve the state.

One of the four campaign priorities is what we call "tools of learning." Gifts made last summer by a number of donors are changing students' classroom experiences in the Whittemore School. Every seat in the new "smart" classrooms is wired for laptop and Internet hookups, and the seating is designed to take advantage of electronic teaching aids. Rather than the traditional blackboard and chalk, the professor has a veritable arsenal of tools at his or her disposal: a computer; a document camera that displays objects, slides or printed pages; a VCR; a ceiling projector; and a sound system.

Another campaign priority is student support, with the emphasis on scholarships. As a university with low state support and high tuition, we knew from the outset that we had to raise money to attract the most talented students from our region and keep the cost of a university education within the means of all qualified students. More than 20 donors have created endowed scholarships, ranging in size from $25,000 to $4 million, and that money is already providing assistance to promising young scholars.

Together, we are pushing the boundaries of knowledge

In addition to scholarships, the campaign also aims to create an endowment for student-centered programs such as the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. A recent gift will help faculty members in the liberal arts develop new ways to integrate research experiences into their courses and will pay for students' research materials and for travel to research sites. These gifts and many others have brought us 56 percent of the way to our goal of $28 million for student support.

A third goal of The Next Horizon campaign is to create faculty chairs and professorships in the university's most distinguished programs. Chairs and professorships enable us to attract top scholars from around the world and to retain our very best teachers and scholars. The campaign has endowed chairs in health economics and the biological sciences, and searches are under way to bring nationally known scholars in these fields to UNH. A gift in honor of jazz legend and visiting UNH professor Clark Terry and professor David Seiler will bring more jazz artists and scholars to campus. The first of these, composer and jazz educator David Baker, will be on campus this February, passing on the language of jazz to young musicians.

A related goal is to establish endowments for some of our strongest academic programs. Because of the foresight of a longtime benefactor who created an endowment for the Marine Program, the university had seed money to create a new center in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We used funds from the endowment to bring Larry Mayer, an internationally renowned researcher in ocean mapping, to UNH in 1999. Since then, NOAA and other government agencies have invested $5.85 million in UNH's Center for Ocean Mapping, and 15 scientists and eight graduate students are exploring the ocean bottom, collecting information that is critical for both business and government. Another recent example of an endowment on behalf of a particular academic program is a $7 million gift to create a center for the management of technology and innovation. (See related article on page 5.)

These are just a few of the many ways that The Next Horizon campaign is transforming the university. As these donors have discovered, a gift to this campaign is a powerful way for alumni and friends to touch the future through their philanthropy. Together, we are pushing the boundaries of knowledge; introducing students to new ideas, challenges and opportunities; finding the tools, exploring the ideas and developing the leaders that will make the future better than the present. The Next Horizon is truly within sight. ~

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