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


arly in this year’s State of the University address, my annual report to the Wildcat community, l talked about how proud I am of UNH’s response to COVID-19: How hundreds of faculty and staff rallied to transition our classes online last spring, along with most of our research. How they then worked long hours over the summer preparing our campuses to reopen in the fall with in-person learning and created a comprehensive public health campaign to keep our community safe and operational. How they built and staffed two state-of-the-art COVID testing labs on our Durham campus, and one on our Manchester campus, which have now handled more than 350,000 tests. Today, our COVID testing program is among the finest, most effective in U.S. higher education.

I noted, too, that more than 400,000 Americans (now over 500,000), including more than 1,000 here in New Hampshire, were among the 2 million individuals globally who had lost their lives in the pandemic. Their numbers include friends and family from our UNH community. “Our hearts go out to each of you who lost a loved one,” I said, and paused.

In that fleeting silence, the weight of it all hit home. History will show that 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges and real pain. But I believe it also will show that our response reflected the compassion, resiliency, creativity and pride that define our Wildcat family.

As summer began, we were shocked to witness the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by police in Minneapolis. His death galvanized our nation to confront racism, including at UNH, where our students led a demonstration and were joined by members of our community who shared stirring testimonials of racism and bias. I have never been more proud of our students than I was on that day.

As we enter 2021, I continue to be inspired by these brave students. UNH’s leadership team has pledged to advance diversity, equity and inclusion across UNH, and this work is now included in the four strategic priorities that guide our success.

COVID still lurks as we begin this spring semester. A spike in cases at the beginning of the term caused us to move to remote learning for a brief period on our Durham campus, and we redoubled our efforts to ensure the health of our community and our learning and research environments so we could return to in-person activities.

The State of the University also allowed us to reflect on the remarkable progress we continued to make toward our strategic priorities: enhance student success and wellbeing, expand academic and research excellence, embrace New Hampshire and build financial strength. You can follow these efforts at the Future of UNH website,, where you will also find an update on our overarching goal to be among the top 25 public universities in the United States on nine key metrics.

I encourage you to watch the full State of the University address video here and to learn about our aspirations and the initiatives we are undertaking to realize them. The qualities that our community showed throughout 2020 give me confidence that we will embrace these opportunities and enjoy tremendous progress as an ever-healthier, more vibrant and united Wildcat community.

James W. Dean Jr.