On Mud Wrestling, Social Media, and Keeping in Touch Shelagh Newton Michaud '95 is the new UNH Alumni Association board president.
By Virginia Stuart '75, '80G
Perry Smith/UNH Photographic Services
Tell me about a lesson you learned at UNH. Ithink the most memorable thing I learned was to not make a snap judgment. I didn't want to come to UNH. I lived in Portsmouth, and we called it University Near Home. But I came because I couldn't fathom having loans or taking all the family's college savings, and once I was on campus, I didn't ever feel like I was too close to home. I got a fantastic education and did amazing things I probably couldn't have done anywhere else. I got involved with student government and worked with the [USNH] board of trustees, I worked for the Clinton campaign, and as student body vice president I spoke at graduation. I took every political science course I could with professors Kaiser, Trout, and Craig. Coming to UNH was one of the best decisions I've made, ever.
Tell me about a memorable experience you had as a student here.
At the end of my sophomore year we built a beautiful volleyball court in the courtyard at Congreve. It was a huge community effort to do something with this area that was essentially just dirt. We did all this research and brought in sand and put pavers to the doors and made sure it was regulation. We played some volleyball and even had mud wrestling there during the construction. It quickly became a mud spa.
Is it accurate to say you're an expert on "e-discovery"?
Well, lawyers aren't supposed to say they're experts in anything. (laughs) Our ethics rules preclude it. I would say my niche is e-discovery, which is the use of electronically stored information in litigation, and also the ethics of social media and its use in litigation. I speak about e-discovery and social media at conferences and meetings. I've written about both, as well.
Does your knowledge in that area affect how you use social media?
I think twice before I post anything. I don't typically "friend" people from work. I have very intricate privacy settings and friend lists so that I can control who sees what, and I just generally try to think about my audience. One of the most important things is being aware of the default properties. Facebook defaults to making posts visible to friends of friends you've tagged, for example, if you don't click that off. I would never want someone to be hurt. And I don't want to post things that might embarrass my children some day.
What are your top priorities as president of the Alumni Association board?
My focus has always been on engagement and relationships. Building relationships within the board, with the staff, and with alumni. The university has unified the Alumni Association, the UNH Foundation, and University Communications and Marketing under one umbrella, as Advancement. And the board wants to support our side, the alumni side, under that umbrella but then also make sure that the umbrella is as bright and colorful as it can be with all the parties working together. That way we can build one organization to help advance the university.
What is your message to UNH alumni?
I would encourage everyone to come back and remember what UNH meant to you and to re-engage, whether it's with your fraternity or student government or your major or UNH's efforts toward sustainability on campus. For my husband, Mike Michaud '96, it's been the New Hampshire Gentlemen. We've attended reunions and met different generations of singers and their wives that have evolved into lifelong friendships. A good place to reconnect is on the alumni online community, UNH Connect (unhconnect.unh.edu). You can become a career mentor through the Pathways program, go to an Executive Forum in Boston or a chapter program in California.
We need our alumni to stay engaged and perhaps lend us their time and expertise. We hope they'll give us money if they can, but I think really it's just being involved. It's really enjoyable to be involved with something that gave so much to us. ~