Alumni NewsDistinguished Visitors
A new program established to "make the statement that the graduates of UNH are distinguished" brought three of those graduates back to campus in February to honor their accomplishments.
Novelist Alice McDermott '78G, winner of the 1998 National Book Award for fiction, Rick Linnehan '80, a NASA astronaut who has flown on two space shuttle missions, and E. Bruce Watson '72, an acclaimed geochemist, spent three days in Durham teaching classes and giving talks as the first recipients of the Distinguished Alumni awards.
Given the chance to reminisce during a panel discussion aimed at students, the three alumni recalled pivotal decisions in their careers that were perhaps more serendipitous than planned.
Watson, for example, left his family farm in New Hampshire intending to study the social sciences, thinking it would help him make sense of the political turmoil of the late '60s. Instead, he ended up preferring the hard sciences. But which one? "Things just went that way," he recalled. "Physics and chemistry appeared to have all the questions answered. In geology, the professors said, 'We just don't know.'"
The alumni also took the opportunity to compare the UNH of their college days with the UNH of today. Linnehan joked that when he visited classrooms during his stay, "I can almost see myself in the back row, asleep." Watson remarked that after spending time with students in classes and over lunch, he concluded there's "no fundamental differences. They have the same worries and anxieties we did."
And McDermott said she decided UNH is very different when she visited the newly renovated Dimond Library. "You now have reading rooms," she quipped.
More seriously, she said UNH is stuck in a time warp—but in a good way. "Monday morning I walked into Hamilton Smith, and I felt that quiet, calm energy. Students were lined up for conferences outside offices. There were the cubicles where writing is discussed one on one. That attention to students is so unusual, so valuable. There is no better way to learn than to have a student and a professor across from each other and the writing there on the desk."
The newest alumni recognition program is sponsored by the UNH Faculty Senate. "We want to celebrate UNH faculty-student relations, which continue long after graduation, as well as to recognize the outstanding success of our alumni," said Faculty Senate Chair John Seavey, professor of health management and policy. "These alumni are very proud of their connections to UNH and the opportunities which have been created by their education here."
Significant revisions to the Alumni Association bylaws will be presented to alumni for ratification at the annual meeting on June 12.
The changes will allow broader representation of the alumni body by expanding the board from 17 to 22 directors, says Edwinna Vanderzanden '80, president the of the association's board of directors. For several years the board has been studying possible revisions, she says. "We realized we lacked representatives from several constituent groups, including UNH-Manchester and the graduate programs. We also hope to increase geographic and ethnic diversity," she notes, adding that many alumni associations operate under bylaws similar to those proposed.
Board member Karen Johnson '84 points out the revisions will also change the election process from slates with two candidates for every board position to one per position. "It's difficult to attract candidates now because of the election process," she says. As proposed, the changes would allow write-in candidates and nominations by petition with 100 signatures. "We're committed to ensuring the democratic process," says Johnson.
Other alumni agree."If the board were more representative, it would have a better idea of what the alumni association is all about," says Bob Dudley '43, a former board president.
"You make a living by what you do. You make a life by what you give."
Austin Hubbard was remarkably successful in making both a living and a life. When he died in the fall of 1996 at the age of 94, he was one of the most prosperous and respected businessmen in the state. He was also one of the state's most generous philanthropists.
Hubbard was a quiet and private man, and many of his gifts were given anonymously. But his will, which was recently approved for distribution, makes the full extent of his generosity clear. Hubbard left some $18 million to 15 charitable organizations, including $1.8 million to UNH for scholarships to New Hampshire students. The bequest increases the Austin and Winona Hubbard Scholarship Fund to $3,480,286.
After graduating with a degree in forestry in 1925, Hubbard returned to the family farm in Walpole, N.H., and joined his father and older brother in a poultry business. His younger brother, Leslie, joined the company after his own graduation from UNH in 1927.
The Hubbards, with the help of UNH poultry specialist A.W. "Red" Richardson, developed a disease-resistant line of chickens that came to be called the New Hampshire Red. So great was the demand for these birds that Hubbard Farms quickly grew into one of the largest and best-equipped poultry operations in New England.
In the 1950's, Hubbard—as chairman of the UNH board of trustees—became a champion of academic freedom when the board rebuffed an investigation by the state attorney general, who charged there were communist sympathizers on campus. In recognition of his steadfast support, Hubbard received the University's Alumni Meritorious Service Award in 1954 and an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1963. "I have never seen a higher sense of duty," former UNH President Eldon Johnson said of Hubbard. "His assistance has been the highest that can be offered, yet the hardest to come by in any age—personal commitment, judgment by discriminating values, and wide vision of the future."