The View from T-Hall

Rooted in Tradition. Changing With Time.

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The foliage in and around Durham isn't the only thing changing as we begin an exciting new fall semester here at UNH. While the campus holds fast to its traditions, culture and physical beauty, it is a place where new doors of possibility are opening for our students, our faculty and staff, and for our alumni and friends. I would like to update you on some recent developments.

This fall, the university enrolled the largest freshman and transfer class in its history, proving once again that UNH is a top choice among high school seniors from all over the country. I had the privilege of meeting many new students and their families during freshman move-in day and was struck by how many parents told me with pride that they are UNH alums.

The students were welcomed into the UNH family with an old-fashioned pep rally held at the Field House for students, parents and alumni. Hockey head coach Dick Umile '72 and football head coach Sean McDonnell '78, joined by student athletes Kelly Paton '10 (women's ice hockey) and Radar Onguetou '10 (men's basketball), led the cheers, and a new tradition—"Pat the 'Cat"—was created as students touched the wildcat sculpture outside the Whittemore Center for good luck. As many of our recent alums know, these new students will once again pass by the wildcat at their commencement. (See the story on Page 22.)

Our greatest asset and source of tradition is our faculty. I am pleased to report that two long-standing professors—from both the sciences and the liberal arts—have been named to leadership positions at UNH.

John Aber, who has been at UNH since 1988, was named the new provost in July. John's is a familiar face not only to our campus community and to many alums, but to the world. In 2003, John was ranked 11th in the world in the field of ecology/environmental science by the Institute for Scientific Information, an organization that measures the impact of published research. He embodies the best of UNH: excellence in teaching, research and service. He has the respect and admiration not only of his faculty and staff colleagues, but also of his many students.

Jan Nisbet, who joined the faculty in 1987 and founded the Institute on Disability, has been named senior vice provost for research. She was awarded the UNH Alumni Association's most prestigious award, the Pettee Medal, for extraordinary service to the state, the nation and the world in 2007. Jan also received UNH awards for excellence in research and excellence in public service and has successfully competed for more than $100 million in federal and state funding during her UNH tenure. She clearly understands opportunities for research support, as well as the regulatory hurdles that must be addressed.

I am also happy to report that the new director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space is Harlan Spence, a Boston University professor of astronomy who studies theoretical and experimental space plasma physics. When he joins us in January, he will bring six projects to UNH totaling more than $55 million in funding from NASA and the National Science Foundation to further strengthen the university's role in space physics.

We expect to complete our strategic planning by the semester's end. This has been an extensive and inclusive undertaking involving our community at all levels. When we reach the other side, we will have refined our vision for what is possible at UNH and provided a roadmap on how to get there. The plan may also include the addition of a law school—we are in talks with Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord—and other initiatives to enhance our academic excellence, intellectual property, community well-being and university revenues.

Earlier this fall, I visited our alumni chapters in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where we shared a new UNH video that underscores our pride in the university and evokes fond memories of our campus, students and athletic events. Music professor David Ripley did a remix of our alma mater. I guarantee that when you view the video (, you will hear an old school song in a whole new way. And it will leave you smiling.

Rooted in tradition. Changing with time. That remix could be a metaphor for UNH today. I invite you to be a part of the excitement by actively participating in shaping your alma mater's future. ~

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