My last stop of the second day took me to Durham, New Hampshire, home of the state’s flagship, The University of New Hampshire. By the time I arrived on campus, the cloudy day had turned sunny and beautiful, and as I walked the campus for about an hour, I was thrilled to encounter lots of students out enjoying perhaps one of the last faux-summer days before winter rears its frosty head.
University of New Hampshire opened up this fall, pretty much in full. Every student was guaranteed at least one face-to-face class and almost all of them returned. From the numbers I saw, the rates of infection have been very low among students, faculty and staff. Students are being tested twice weekly; faculty and staff once weekly. Happily, I didn’t see a single person going maskless in my entire time on campus and I saw literally hundreds of people.
President James Dean and I were able to spend an hour together. Two years ago, his career brought him north from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he had served as Provost. Despite the challenges he has faced since he arrived, he loves his work and the community that is University of New Hampshire.
I learned a lot about the New Hampshire state system in my time with Jim. There are 4 four-year state institutions in the system, with UNH educating seventy percent of students.
But state funding of public higher education in New Hampshire is not what one might imagine. The highest state contribution in the United States is in excess of $10,000 per student. New Hampshire’s state system, however, receives only about $3,000/student, and even that amount is at risk as state budgets have shrunken dramatically as a result of the pandemic.
Jim and I had a far ranging conversation about his professional path, as well as his ambitions for the University of New Hampshire and its students.
I came away very impressed by what I saw. As you can see by the photos, the University of New Hampshire is a really beautiful place…
…and from what I heard from its President, things are only going to get better.