The View from T-Hall

Road Scholars

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The University of New Hampshire is distinguished by its three missions: teaching, research, and public service. These missions stem from our land-grant tradition, and although we work to make the three mutually supportive, each has distinctive purposes. When we talk about "public service," it refers to the applications of teaching and research to the needs of the state and region. New faculty typically come to the University experienced in teaching and research, but they are less likely to be experienced in the University's public service mission. In order to acquaint recently hired faculty with the ways that the University of New Hampshire works across its state (and also to educate the President on this matter!), for each of the last two years I have accompanied the newly hired faculty on a three-day bus trip around New Hampshire.

We have taken different routes in each of the two years, but the agendas were quite similar. It's an opportunity for all of us to see the good work of UNH being carried out in literally every town and rural area, as well as visit some of the truly spectacular places that the Granite State offers--Dixville Notch, the Old Man of the Mountains, Lake Winnepausaukee, for example.

Over the course of these two tours, we visited several sites of business and industry where University faculty, students, and programs support the development of emerging industries in surgical product development, aquaculture and electronic communication. We visited an agricultural site where Cooperative Extension educators supervise research on the spreading of biomaterials, and, further north, advise on dairy production. We were in public schools that are using interactive science materials developed by University faculty and where physically handicapped children are mainstreamed under the guidance of our Institute on Disability. We experienced UNH's support of the tourism industry and UNH's contributions in hospitality management and environmental studies, as well as projects in the arts and museums of the smaller communities. I have a tremendous sense of pride for the University's critical role in our state.

Each of us finished these trips with a much deeper appreciation of the role that the University plays in the state's development and the central role that the University must continue to play. I came to recognize the great talent and deep commitment of our newly hired faculty. (When the bus overheated about some distance from The Balsams in Dixville Notch, these new faculty, in a marvelous show of spirit, picked up their gear and hiked the rest of the way!) They reinforce my confidence in the future of UNH.

The University has an obligation to apply its learning to the needs of the state and a responsibility to help students develop value systems that include civic involvement and public service. At UNH the applications of learning to real world problems is a frequent part of the student experience. UNH students wrestle with real-world problems and engage in hands-on learning through undergraduate research projects and volunteer service outside of the classroom. This past year, more than 1,500 students volunteered their time to service learning projects. They built homes with Habitat for Humanity; they tutored students in local elementary schools; they ran blood drives and visited nursing homes. In all, they donated literally thousands of hours to public service.

Of our graduates who go to work following commencement, approximately 30 percent take positions in areas of public service--in non-profit agencies, in government, and in educational organizations.

As alumni and alumnae of UNH, you may very well still remember your own public service involvement while you were a student here--perhaps you performed in one of the University's traveling children's theatres or volunteered in our Lakes Lay Monitoring Program that gauges the quality of New Hampshire's fresh water. If you are a parent, your son or daughter may be one of our many student volunteers. If you are one of our state legislators, then perhaps you have had the opportunity to meet UNH political scientist John Camobreco's student interns. If you are a business person, then surely some of the people who work with you or for you are graduates of UNH; or your company has benefited from the services of the Whittemore School. The University of New Hampshire is proud of its public service mission. UNH serves the state in ways critical to its future and educates students with an awareness of their own roles in civic leadership. Not only is pubic service our mission, it is our privilege.

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