by Doug Prince
Reaching Out from the Ivy
By Chancellor Stephen J.
omething there is that doesn't love a wall," wrote Robert Frost. That line from his beloved poem "Mending Wall" was in my mind a few weeks ago as I listened to UNH President Joan Leitzel speaking at the annual Alumni Legislative Breakfast in Concord. She was talking about the innumerable ways in which the university reaches out to improve the quality of life in communities all over New Hampshire, and it occurred to me that the most familiar metaphors for academic institutions--the ivory tower and the ivy-covered walls--don't fit our state university at all.
On the screen behind Dr. Leitzel was a map of the state, a map covered with dots, each representing a place where the university is working with local organizations to improve the quality of life, strengthen the economy and preserve the environment. Many of those places are familiar to me, a relative newcomer to New Hampshire, because I have visited them to see firsthand how much the university is doing to serve the people of New Hampshire.
Community service programs conducted by the university are as varied as you would expect, given the range of interests, talents and expertise collected at UNH. Here are just a few examples:
Right now, many members of the extended university community are contacting members of the state legislature to persuade them to improve the level of state support for the university and the University System of New Hampshire. As we make our case for greater support, we should be quick to cite UNH's outreach activities, for they demonstrate how the state's modest investment returns enormous value to the greater community.
As a professor of religious studies, I might observe that there are two words whose original meanings have been forgotten over time, despite their continued use in everyday discourse. These are pride and humility. The former is defined as an inordinate or inappropriate sense of one's self and worth. The other--often seen as the opposite of pride and hence thought of as self-effacement--is actually defined as a clear-eyed acknowledgment of one's goodness or accomplishment.
That morning in Concord, Dr. Leitzel's true humility was both evident and justified. In fact, the team at the University of New Hampshire is doing its job well. There is something at UNH that "doesn't love a wall," and New Hampshire is a better place because of it. ~
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