The View from T-Hall

Is College Worth It?

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It strikes me that the name of this column,"The View from T-Hall," is more than a metaphor—my second-floor office provides not only a view of the Great Lawn, but also a window into the UNH community, our character, and our commitment to serving a greater good.

One night this spring, for example, the view from T-Hall was filled with the flickering light of candles held by more than 1,000 members of the UNH community, who gathered to show support for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Students, faculty, and staff—all of us here at UNH, as well as many of our alums, felt the tragedy personally. Some were in Boston that day, participating as runners or spectators. A few were among the first responders after the explosions.

But the support didn't stop with the vigil. Many of us went on to raise money for the victims; others pledged to run the marathon next year for charity. This is what we do at UNH—we come together and find ways to reach out and help.

A few days earlier, T-Hall stood watch over a different sort of gathering, as hundreds of students and alumni, faculty and staff, friends and donors streamed into the ribbon-cutting celebration for the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. It was Peter, a 1967 graduate and native of the tiny town of Troy, N.H., who sparked the transformation of our business school with his generous gift in 2008—and his desire to provide education and opportunities for future generations of UNH students.

While our community is joined in building a culture of philanthropy, many of us are also working together to encourage state lawmakers to restore support for public higher education. A student sculpture visible from my T-Hall window one day this spring, for instance, made this statement loud and clear—with 32,320 pencils. Each pencil represented one dollar; taken all together, they represented the average student loan debt of the Class of 2010, among the highest in the country. Today, I'm proud to report that more than 1,200 students, alumni, parents, and partners have signed up to support our cause in the Legislature by becoming UNH Advocates.

The remarkable talent that our community attracts was also on display during a recent beautiful weekend when hundreds of high school juniors and their families came to campus for Junior Visit Day. Watching them stroll past T-Hall, I couldn't help but imagine them in a few short years, lining up on the Great Lawn for commencement and preparing to march to Memorial Field.

This year's graduates heard from commencement speaker Lt. Gen. Mary A. Legere '82, a combat veteran and UNH ROTC alumna, who encouraged them to lead lives of meaning and purpose, lives built not only on the skills and expertise gained during their time at UNH, but also on a commitment to public service.

Inside this issue of UNH Magazine, you'll find more inspiring examples of members of our community who have done just that: Alums in the Peace Corps who are leaving their mark in distant lands (page 30). A philosophy professor who chose teaching because of its power to change lives (page 22). A student who gave up the culmination of his college sports career to help save a stranger's life (page 11).

This spirit of outreach, which characterizes the UNH community, is perhaps our greatest strength. Whether we're standing shoulder to shoulder in the aftermath of tragedy, celebrating a milestone in the university's history, or working together to shape UNH's future, this spirit is what brings us together. It's what we believe. It's who we are. ~

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