The View from T-Hall
As this issue of UNH Magazine reaches you, New Hampshire's lawmakers are working to develop a two-year budget that we hope will restore public support for UNH, following the Legislature's 2011 vote to cut our state funding by 49 percent.
When I went to testify on behalf of UNH at the Statehouse recently, I thought a good deal about how to make the case that the university not only deserves public support—but that we in the state of New Hampshire need to develop a new and sustainable partnership between educators and legislators. Such a partnership is critical not only for UNH (and the state's University System), but also for New Hampshire's economic future.
I found inspiration, as I often do, right here on campus, at a forum we hosted to explore better ways that UNH, the state, the federal government and nonprofits can serve New Hampshire's military veterans. The metaphor that I shared with lawmakers in Concord involved the training of Navy SEALs. Despite their legendary fitness and toughness as individuals, SEALs will be the first to tell you that the secret of their success is, first and foremost, teamwork.
So what does this kind of teamwork actually look like in the context of public-private partnership? I offer you two recent examples.
The first was a forum that UNH hosted in Manchester in November. The topic: How to increase the number of New Hampshire's graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—the so-called STEM fields. The forum brought together the University System of New Hampshire, the Community College System of New Hampshire, business leaders and higher education officials.
The forum marked an advance in this team approach to making New Hampshire globally competitive in the coming decades. It also underscored the university's leadership.
UNH is already the administrator of a five-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to explore the relationship between people and the environment, provide critical information for state decision-makers, and build workforce development efforts, including the creation of science education and research experiences for K-12 schools and community colleges.
In the fall, UNH Manchester expanded into the historic Pandora Mill building to offer new opportunities for the college's growing computing technology and engineering programs, as well as graduate programs. The College of Life Sciences and Agriculture and Great Bay Community College signed an agreement to allow qualified Great Bay students to transfer seamlessly into several life sciences programs at UNH.
The second example of teamwork happened far from the public eye. It involved several members of the women's lacrosse team traveling to Newtown, Conn., to participate in a youth lacrosse clinic to help heal a community that was stunned by December's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Bill Sughrue, a parent and lacrosse coach from Newtown, posted this on the team's Facebook page, "We could never thank you enough for your time and willingness to help our community heal. It is events like these that give our kids a break from the sadness that surrounds them and give them some new exciting memories."
We also are bringing a new form of teamwork to the state budget conversations in Concord: Through a campaign called UNH Works for New Hampshire, we are enlisting alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff and voters to show your support for UNH to our elected officials. To date, over 1,300 advocates have signed up. You can join them by following the UNH Works link on my web page: www.unh.edu/president/. ~
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