Alumni News

New Navigator, Same Course

Crammed into the cockpit of a KC-135 Stratotanker, flying through the night sky over the North Pole, Gregg Sanborn '66, '77G did the only thing he could do--he

Greg Sanborn Photo by Perry Smith
read the stars. Compasses don't work at the top of the world, where the Earth's magnetic field wreaks havoc with instruments, and so the Air Force navigator relied on his own knowledge of the sky.

Flying has changed a lot since those days in the 1960s, when he was sent on transport and refueling missions during the Vietnam War, but Sanborn is still navigating. For more than a decade he has been at the side of the UNH president--five of them, to be exact--bringing long-term perspective and institutional history to the daunting task of keeping a university on course.

Sanborn's latest mission will be as interim executive director of the Alumni Association, a position he will fill for the next 13 months while a search is conducted for a permanent replacement. "I consider it a distinct privilege," says Sanborn. "My role is to build upon the good work that is already going on here."

Sanborn's calendar, as he embarks on his new job, is filling up fast--golf tournaments, the senior picnic, Pops concerts and more. But the real work of the alumni association is much broader and deeper than any single event, program or publication. "The goal of the association," he says, "is to build friendships."

In many ways, Sanborn is uniquely qualified to take on his new role. His years as executive assistant to the president provided a broad view of the university and its many constituencies. But his understanding of UNH began much earlier, when he was an undergraduate majoring in zoology (with some notion of becoming a dentist). Also involved in student government, Sanborn found a mentor in Dick Stevens '51, '69G, then dean of students.

KC-135 Stratotanker flying near a body of water at sunrise Courtesy U.S. Air Force

Discharged from the Air Force in 1971, Sanborn went to work for Stevens--and has been at UNH ever since. "The university's been very good to me," says Sanborn, who has worn a number of hats. "I've been able to advance and grow through the years." Along the way, he also received a graduate degree in counseling and personnel services. Eventually, Sanborn followed in the footsteps of the man who first hired him and spent a decade as vice president of student affairs before moving to the president's office.

Now it's time for another change. But Sanborn will bring with him to the Alumni Association the same approach he has used throughout his years at UNH. His door, he says, is always open. Not words you typically hear from a navigator. But if you're Gregg Sanborn, they make perfect sense. Open doors invite conversation. They build friendships.

The Taxman Goeth

It's always a good idea to stay on the right side of the Internal Revenue Service. So when the Alumni Association's board of directors noticed that the association--while registered with the state as a voluntary, nonprofit corporation since the 1930s--had never clarified its tax status with the IRS as required by the 1969 Tax Act, they decided to rectify the situation.

Over the course of several years, former board president Karen Johnson '84, a Boston attorney who specializes in nonprofit tax issues, worked with a task force and university officials to clarify the association's legal relationships. "The clear consensus from our research was that this could best be accomplished by applying for a group exemption under the university's tax exempt status," says Johnson.

In order to qualify for the group exemption, changes were needed in the association's articles of association. The changes are technical in nature, and "will not affect the way the association operates on a day-to-day basis, " says board president Elibet Moore Chase '81, '02G. The changes, which are online at, will be voted on at the annual meeting on June 12. Copies of the revised articles can also be obtained by calling the Elliott Alumni Center at (800) 891-1195 or e-mailing

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