Flying Start
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ON THE MOVE: Giles and Kate Huddleston at the UNH recreation area on Mendum's pond.

Her husband, she is quick to point out, is different. The couple once attended a Halloween party as yin and yang: she was all in white, he was all in black, and they both wore the corresponding cut-out symbols. "Mark is methodical and thoughtful," says Bricker. "He's very cautious. And he is very, very good at what he does. I've never known him to fail at anything."

When Huddleston and Bricker were introduced by a mutual friend in 1987, he was a political science professor and she was running her own landscape design business. On their first date, they took a spin in Huddleston's plane. They were married in 1990 on the farm in Maryland where Bricker grew up. After the ceremony, there was a rollicking square dance in the barn. When the partying was over, Bricker and Huddleston hauled sleeping bags to the edge of a pond and spent the night under the stars. The next day, they went back to work.

Here in New Hampshire, Bricker predicts, her role will evolve as it has in the past. At Ohio Wesleyan, she orchestrated a host of events, from road races to half-time football entertainment to art-gallery receptions--all of which helped to improve the town-gown relationship. "We basically tried to think about what we could offer to the people who lived in the community," Bricker says. She looks forward to doing the same here.

Emma Bricker, the wife of new president Mark Huddleston, waits to board Amtrak's Downeaster train headed for Portland, Maine.

She is also enjoying a return to teaching this semester. Bricker, who has a degree in plant science, as well as a graduate degree in Latin American literature and pedagogy, is taking over the Plants, People, and Places class for a Thompson School professor on sabbatical. And then there is her role as mom to Kate, a junior at Oyster River High School in Durham, and Giles, a seventh grader who will try home-schooling this year. (Andy, a son from Huddleston's previous marriage, is starting graduate school at Princeton.)

Bricker will also, of course, accompany her husband to many university functions. For Huddleston, getting out and about, meeting faculty, students, staff and alums, is at the core of his job. Having Bricker, and his children, too, join him for some of these events is only logical. "It's really important to me that this is a public institution with a focus on outreach," he says, returning to a favorite theme.

The Huddleston family kayaks at Mendum's pond.

Huddleston has made it clear throughout his early weeks at UNH that he has an overarching optimistic vision for this public university. He is here, he says, to work toward that vision. He is here for the long haul. Which explains in part why a man who loves nothing more than a good book or a mountain hike is willing to step into the spotlight that invariably shines on a president. Successful public universities, by their very definition, can keep at the forefront of collective consciousness the idea of "the public good." They are, Huddleston believes, vital to the national interest. More than this, they have the potential to change the world. Having seen firsthand the suffering, wasted lives and lost opportunities that flourish in war-torn regions—places in dire need of well-educated, world-citizens—this is a potential Huddleston takes very seriously. It's a high goal. And he knows it.

That's the point, though. Getting there is no easy task, but it's a worthy mission. And the way to start, Huddleston believes, is the right perspective—that sky-high view. And this, he knows from his flying experience, means going up. Once you're there, at cruising altitude, the lay of the land is clear, and it's possible to strike out, with some degree of certainty, for the territory ahead. ~

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