UNH's president lays out path for future growth
University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston delivers is State of the University address at the Memorial Union Building on the Durham campus on Tuesday. (GRETYL MACALASTER/Union Leader Correspondent)
The five priorities focus on enrollment; branding and marketing; science, technology, education and mathematics, or STEM, education; research and research commercialization and philanthropy.
From 2009-2020, the number of students graduating high school is expected to drop by 18 percent in New Hampshire, he said.
At the same time, higher education remains unaffordable for many families.
While UNH struggles to stay affordable, state support for the university system has dropped 28.1 percent over the last 12 years, although enrollments have remained strong over that same span, rising 21.6 percent, he said.
Huddleston said the university should stay focused on its core mission as a student-centered, research-intensive, residential, public university.
"We cannot, for instance, remain the University of New Hampshire while moving all or even most of our activities online. We cannot decide to become private, as some have suggested, however little support the state provides, and still be true to our mission. We can't decide that research is too expensive — or that teaching undergraduates is too bothersome — and still be UNH," Huddleston said.
Undergraduate tuition remains the primary source of UNH's revenue, Huddleston said, and assuring a steady flow of undergraduate students is the cornerstone of everything else the university does.
He said for too long UNH failed to tell its own story effectively, and it must do a better job making a convincing case to the people of New Hampshire for public support.
"Having that be the core discussion of his speech, he hit the nail directly on the head," Merrill said.
"We are the only New Hampshire institution of higher education that offers the full spectrum of STEM education and outreach, providing graduates who actually want to stay here in New Hampshire when they enter the workforce or start their own businesses," Huddleston said. "New Hampshire will reach this critical goal only if UNH successfully drives the process."
Huddleston also emphasized many successes seen by the university over the previous year, including internationally recognized and honored work by professors and lecturers in various departments, the launch of UNH Innovation, and the official opening of the UNH Law School in Concord.
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