President’s Column
The View From T-Hall
Photo of Jim Dean


hose unfamiliar with UNH could look at three major issues confronting us — racism, COVID-19 and financial losses triggered by the pandemic — and call it a perfect storm. Indeed, these are serious challenges and addressing them requires the support of everyone across the university. But today, I am full of optimism for UNH’s future because of the character of our community, including our alumni.

On June 7, I attended a student-led Black Lives Matter rally in Durham. I was so proud to watch hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters gathering peacefully, and I was deeply humbled to hear speakers share their perspectives on issues of racism, racial injustice and inequity that our nation, and even our university, still struggle to confront. It reminded me of the great civil rights marches of the 1960s, and Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

In 2020, the ultimate measure of UNH is revealed in our responses to COVID-19, racism and our budget challenges. Every day since in-person classes ended in March, teams across UNH have rallied to respond to COVID-19: helping students to return home and learn online, refunding their fees for housing and meals, celebrating the Class of 2020 virtually, working with the state to transform Hamel Rec into a COVID-19 patient overflow center and hosting a legislative session at the Whitt, the first time since the Civil War that lawmakers convened outside the State House. Now, we are working seven days a week to prepare for the return of in-person classes in the fall.

Three days after the Black Lives Matter rally, I announced a comprehensive action plan to address racism and intolerance, increase education about racism and create opportunities for everyone to become antiracist. Please join us as we begin part one, Listen and Learn. I am also delighted to announce the appointment of Nadine Petty as chief diversity officer and associate vice president for Community, Equity and Diversity.

In June, I also shared new measures to strengthen our financial situation. In addition to a freeze on hiring and travel, we expanded our incentives for voluntary, early retirements. Finally, leaders across the university, including myself, have volunteered for temporary pay reductions.

This new digital magazine is itself a response to some of the challenges facing us — a less expensive and more timely way to connect with our alumni community. This new format provides me with an opportunity to connect regularly with our 140,000-some strong Wildcat family, and to share my enthusiasm for stories like this issue’s feature on Lou D’Allesandro ’61, who’s dedicated his career in New Hampshire politics to doing right by the Granite State. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about Lou and will also read about the university’s own efforts to support New Hampshire through COVID-19 — both are great examples of one of our strategic priorities, Embrace New Hampshire.

The character that our community brings to challenging times is how we measure, and will achieve, our success. Thank you, for all that you do to help us build a bright future for UNH.

James W. Dean Jr.
President, University of New Hampshire