Flying Start
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Through the years, Huddleston replicated the Delaware model in other countries, including post-war Bosnia in 1996, where he worked closely with Mark Grubb, a project manager for the rebuilding efforts. The ex-Marine was faced, among other things, with the daunting task of establishing a new fiscal framework in a country completely fractured by war. He turned to Huddleston for help. "I'm constantly crediting Mark for having taught me the basic nuggets of fiscal federalism that allowed me to get started in this field," says Grubb, who has spent his post-Marine Corps years on rebuilding assignments in a number of war-torn regions, including Iraq.

Eventually, Huddleston joined Grubb in Bosnia, where he experienced a world so far removed from the academic ivory tower as to seem almost surreal. His hotel room walls were scarred with machine gun fire. Every morning he drove past bombed-out houses. He met children severely damaged, both physically and emotionally, by the war. Everywhere he went, there was the threat of land mines. "It was pretty sobering," says Huddleston. "But I felt I was doing something really important. I had a sense of mission, a real sense of engagement."

One of Huddleston's cherished possessions is a thank-you note from his Slovenian colleagues he keeps on display in his UNH office. "It helps to put things in perspective," he says. Huddleston's experience abroad explains some other things, too. "It's one of the reasons I'm so passionate about global education for our students," he says. "I'd like to see every UNH student have the chance to study abroad."

Grubb predicts the same characteristics that made Huddleston successful in the war-torn Balkans will make him successful at UNH. "Mark is personable and engaging," says Grubb, "and he leads by example. He is one of the most driven people I've ever met. It's impossible not to respect the man's integrity and determination to do the right thing."

Some of the lessons Huddleston learned in Bosnia are recorded in his 1999 article, "Innocents Abroad: Reflections from a Public Administration Consultant in Bosnia," published in the Public Administration Review. "They are," he says, "general lessons that can be applied to any complex administrative situation." What is most striking about the article, though, is the premise itself. Instead of "what we did to improve things in Bosnia," Huddleston forthrightly examined the larger lessons to be learned by so-called experts embarking on overseas work: the need for a respectful understanding of the culture, the conflict between short- and long-term needs and goals, and the dangers of arrogance. "Skepticism and empathy, patience and perseverance are all essential," he writes—advice he considers equally fitting as he embarks on a new chapter here at UNH.

A thank-you note from Bosnian colleagues.

Huddleston can barely contain his enthusiasm for what he calls the most fun part of his job. "I feel like a kid in a candy shop," he says. "I love being able to wander around and peek in all the nooks and crannies where people are doing amazing stuff. It's like being a permanent undergraduate." During the early weeks of his job, Huddleston has done just that—spending day after day on tour, out and about, trying to get the lay of the UNH land.

One morning, he troops around the landfill in Rochester, N.H., learning about the pipeline that UNH is building to bring methane to its co-generation plant. Another day he tours the pier in New Castle, hearing about open-ocean aquaculture. One afternoon he leaves the imprint of his hand in a slab of wet concrete, helping to inaugurate an environmentally friendly parking lot, the first of its kind in New England. He has been to the Isles of Shoals to see UNH's Marine Laboratory and headed north for a tour of New Hampshire's Coos Country. He has even been to the bottom of the Black Sea—via computer in UNH's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, where he got a glimpse of a joint underwater research effort. "There I was, watching in real time as they manipulated these claws and picked up these amphora, these old urns, from a 1,500-year-old shipwreck. It was amazing."

Huddleston has met the Residential Life staff, attended a picnic with campus writers and learned about the Carsey Institute. He's wandered the labyrinthian underbelly of the Field House, hearing about leaking locker rooms and poor air quality, meeting the football coach and studying the playing fields. He has even hosted a campus-wide ice cream social, where he spent several hours talking with students, faculty and staff who dropped by to say hello’Äîand, while they were at it, helped to polish off 60 gallons of ice cream. Whatever the setting, Huddleston listens intently, his tall frame bent slightly forward, focused on whoever happens to be speaking. High school students studying at UNH for the summer get the same attention as a college dean.

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