Advanced UNH Search Campus Intranet Calendars and Events UNH Site Index Home
UNH News Bureau

Campus Journal News

The right place at the right time

A profile of President Ann Weaver Hart

By Lori Gula

As Ann Weaver Hart and her husband Randy traveled across the country in July to Durham where she would begin her tenure as president of UNH, the couple was acutely aware that their 5,000-mile journey was more than a road trip.

"It was a journey of space that paralleled our professional and personal journey of moving to New Hampshire," says the new president, relaxed and introspective while sitting in her office in Thompson Hall. She began July 1.

It was a defining moment for a couple who met at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City, raised four daughters and had downsized their lives, only to move into the president's home without enough furniture to fill it.

"We saw all of our children either on the drive itself or before and said goodbye systematically, which was very fun. Then we started across Canada after leaving Missoula, Montana, and experienced the high plains, moved into the Great Lakes, dropped down into the Adirondacks and felt New England coming toward us.

"It was wonderful," she says. "We were very fortunate. It just felt day by day that we were doing the right thing and going to the right place."

From high school teacher to professor
Hart began her career teaching history, math and English at Cottonwood High School and Bonneville Junior High School in Salt Lake City.

"What I loved about teaching in secondary school is the opportunity you have to be the first to introduce your students to some new and exciting knowledge or experience in the world," she says.

In 1973, she decided to stay home with her young daughters, but briefly returned to secondary education seven years later before she was back at the University of Utah full time pursuing a master's degree in history and Ph.D. in educational leadership. After one year as principal of Farrer Junior High School, Hart was recruited to her alma mater as a faculty member in 1984, which was sparked by a research presentation she made to the American Educational Research Association.

Her shift to higher education administration was a journey that began with her desire to earn a Ph.D. and her love of higher education research.

"I never really planned a career in administration during the years I was working toward tenure and promotion, but gradually became more involved in issues that cut across the university rather than being specific to my college. I found myself being captured by both what I could learn, and the complexity and fascination with the issues that universities face," she says

Her career path is one of continuing advancement in higher education: assistant professor, associate professor, associate dean, professor, dean, special assistant to the president, and provost and vice president. In addition, she has served as a consultant to national and international educational organizations, universities, school districts and nonprofit organizations.

"I am proud that I have been able to be a teacher, a student and a leader in public education in the United States. American public higher education makes opportunity at the highest level of excellence available for everyone who has the will and the promise to take advantage of that opportunity," she says.

Her other hat: Her family
While her list of professional and academic accomplishments is extensive and impressive, in her private life, she is most proud of her family.

"I am most proud of the fact that Randy and I have been able to raise four marvelous daughters and that they are building happy, productive and useful lives each in her own way," she says.

Her oldest daughter, Kimberly, lives in Missoula, Montana, and works for a urology practice after earning a bachelor's degree in healthcare management. She and her husband have a daughter Elise, 1. Second oldest is Liza, an architect who is married and gave birth to Hart's grandson, Zane, March 25 -- the first day of her on-campus interviews as a finalist for president.

Emily, third in line, is receiving her master's degree in environmental science at the University of Western Washington Aug. 24. She and her husband are expecting a baby at the end of January. And youngest daughter Allyson is a third-year medical student at University of California San Francisco, the third-ranked medical school in the country.

"We were fortunate that with our four children, their struggles worked out in ways that reinforced the values that we care about as a family," she says. "Every parent enters into child rearing with the full expectation that their child will be healthy, happy, and productive in a way that is satisfying to them personally -- and safe. Not every parent gets to have that, so we know that it's a gift."

The Harts have known each other since high school.

"I met him in the high school orchestra. Randy was first chair clarinet and I was first chair cello," she says. "Kind of corny, huh?"

The two teens were drawn to each other by their mutual love of music, the West and outdoor activities, such as hiking. "He was just fun to be around. We went for hikes on dates. We roasted hot dogs in the canyon on dates," she says.

"I liked his honesty and his pragmatism and the fact that he loved the same things I did. He's a great reader so we could always talk about what we were reading and what it meant to us."

And, he's the perfect father for four daughters. He never has said anything that could be labeled as gender specific regarding what people can and should do, Hart says. Everything he loves to do -- skiing, hiking, backpacking, yard work, house work -- he did with his family.

"We would go backpacking in the Rocky Mountains with all four of them when they were small. You walk into the Wind Rivers with four young women, the youngest of whom was about 6, and you get stared at and remarked about by everyone you pass on the trail," she says

For now, Randy, an attorney, is weighing his career options. "He's packed up and moved twice in the last five years for me. He would like to get to know New Hampshire and spend some time getting a feel for what he'd like to do. I would like him to spend as much time as he can helping me and being with me in this role as president."

Settling in on campus
Three baskets filled with cheeses, fruits and breads plus wine shipped from California greeted the Harts when they pulled into the driveway of the president's house in their new Passat -- with its freshly chipped windshield courtesy of a Canadian construction zone -- at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 11.

Perhaps the folks in facilities, food services and the president's office who arranged for the warm welcome are mind readers.

"It was so welcoming, so comfortable and so embracing. We went out on the patio and had cheese, fruit and bread for dinner, evening bread -- abend brot -- which is kind of a custom in our family because two of our children combined several years studying in Germany and Austria, and one in Belgium," Hart says.

Six weeks later, the Harts have settled in on campus and in their new home.

And the campus has noticed.

"We hear a lot about, 'Oh, I saw your cat the other day,' or 'Is that red canoe really yours?' or 'I saw Randy reading the paper on the front porch the other day.' That's kind of new for us, and we like it," she says. "It's been fun to have very specific conversations that bring the centrality of the house to campus into focus personally."

The couple's three cats -- Celia, 18, Brianca, 17, and Alfredo, 12, are frequent visitors to the picnic tables outside of the Admission's Office, particularly at lunchtime, when they can get a lot of attention.

"Getting the cats here was the hardest part of the move. We wanted to drive and there's no way you can bring three cats in a car for that long. In the summer, you can't ship cats in cargo because it's too hot, so you have to bring them in the passenger compartment as your carry-on luggage, which is fine, but you can bring only one cat per person," Hart says.

The president and her husband flew two out with them and boarded them before making their cross-country trek. The third cat arrived in early August with daughter Emily. "The cats have sort of been all over the place, and they are old. One is 17 and one is 18. We inherited all three of them from our children," she says.

When not at T-Hall, you might find the president knitting, reading, on a long walk with Randy, hiking, bicycling and, for sure, canoeing

"When we bought the canoe, we planned to use it on western rivers where you need a pretty sturdy canoe because of the rocks in the very shallow rivers. Now we've got the estuarine environment out on Great Bay and Little Bay, and the Oyster River, as well as other rivers in our neighborhood."

Since moving to Durham, the Harts have visited Portsmouth and Strawbery Banke, been out on Great Bay and Little Bay, and canoed at Mendum's Pond. Randy, Emily and Emily's husband, Ryan, have climbed Mount Washington already.

The work of the president
The president's first few weeks at UNH have been busy with meetings and events with faculty and staff, news conferences with Sen. Judd Gregg and Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, and testimony before state legislators.

In July she outlined four challenges UNH faces for the legislature's Public Higher Education Study Committee. They are competitive salaries, particularly for faculty; maintenance of facilities, particularly in the sciences and engineering; providing state-of-the-art instructional facilities, equipment, computers, etc.; and securing financial aid for students.

"Universities are built around the intellectual resource, energy, and creativity of their faculty members. We have capital in the form of buildings and endowments, but the heart of our capital is the intellectual resource of our faculty. Finding competitive salaries for that faculty has got to be a core focus of all of our financial decisions," she says.

Among her many priorities is a broad approach to institutional advancement. "Institutional advancement is the combination of a cohesive and strong message that captures the vision and mission of the university and communicates it well internally and externally, of strong and vibrant relationships with our alumni and friends, and of carefully planned development activities to secure financial resources," she says. Within a year or two, Hart also will work with the UNH Foundation to begin to plan for the next capital campaign.

As for dealing with the legislature, Hart says she recognizes that there will be occasions when she and others disagree, but she fundamentally believes that men and women of good will can disagree and still work together productively.

"The state of New Hampshire has invested a lot in this university, and protecting and enhancing that investment is worth their time, effort, and financial resources," she says.

In the short term, the president wants to meet as many people as she can, get to know the students, student body officers and their concerns, and develop a deep understanding of the university.

In the long term, the president will focus on building a more solid base for the endowment, creating a flow of resources that is less dependent on tuition, and developing and focusing on "superb research, graduate, and undergraduate programs in areas in which New Hampshire is best positioned to excel."

"A lot of progress has already been made. These can be long-term goals of mine because so much has been achieved here already. I'm not spinning the yarn to weave the cloth to build the garment. The yarn has been spun, the cloth has been woven, and much of the planning and sewing for the garment is complete," she says.

Couple brings new hope for Coos County high schoolers

By Kim Billings

Former, long-time Berlin residents Arnie and Della Hanson have always wanted to make a difference at UNH. They did this first a few years ago with a $500,000 gift for teaching excellence. Now, they are making another difference at UNH and to the lives of students in the North Country.

The UNH Foundation has announced a $2 million gift from the couple to establish the Arnold P. and Della A. Hanson Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide students from Coos County four-year scholarships covering the full cost of attendance at UNH.

"I just wanted a kid in the North Country who has the desire to go to college to know there is this opportunity coming that can help achieve the goals he or she has set," Arnie Hanson says. "I want these kids to feel like there's some hope."

"This is another demonstration of the Hansons' continued quest to make a lifelong difference for members of their community by providing educational opportunities for students with financial need and academic promise," says Young Dawkins III, president of the UNH Foundation.

Arnie Hanson started saving money early in his life. Growing up as a young boy in Berlin, he had a milk route in the morning and three newspaper routes, and he shoveled snow in the winter and mowed lawns in the summer. In college, he had a monopoly on selling corsages and boutonnieres to UNH fraternities for their formal social functions. He also was the board manager at his fraternity, Sigma Beta.

When Hanson attended his first year at UNH in the 1940s, his parents paid the tuition and he received three or four small scholarships. His sister, a teacher, sent Hanson $2 per week "for spending money," he recalls. Following his first year, he went into the Navy and when he returned, his UNH education was paid for by the G.I. Bill. He could handle up to 26 credits per semester - the usual load is 16 credits. "I had a lot of help from people when I was going to UNH," he recalls, "and Della and I feel it's only right to help others in the same way."

Arnie and Della were married in 1948, one week after Arnie received his bachelor's degree in political science from UNH. After graduation from Boston University Law School in 1951, he was offered a lucrative job in Boston at a prestigious law firm but, Hanson says, "I wanted to go home. I wanted to know that when my daughter went out with someone, I'd know who his parents were."

Both were born and raised in Berlin, and Della has 12 siblings. "There was a lot of family there for us," she says, "and that was important to both of us."

By 1960, Arnie had formed the partnership of Bergeron and Hanson, and embarked on a successful career in civil and criminal law.

By all accounts, the Hansons were well-respected community members, and gained a reputation for "getting things done" for their community as well as for the university.

The Hansons continue to support many causes in their retirement, including the establishment of an endowment in 1998 in honor of the late Dr. Norman Alexander, who had a profound influence on Arnie during his UNH years.

"The Hansons don't just contribute with their wallet," says Diana Koski, vice president at the UNH Foundation. "They give with their hearts. Gifts like that are very special indeed."

Faculty, staff asked to report use of chemical and biological agents

By Kim Billings

Faculty and staff are being asked to comply with a request from two federal agencies to report any number of "select agents" to them by Sept. 1.

According to UNH's new laboratory safety officer, David Gillum, it's not likely that many of the agents are being used at the university, but it's important that faculty and staff, particularly research faculty, check their laboratory inventories.

The order comes as part of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, signed into law by President Bush in June.

"It is mandatory that all universities in the United States complete this form," he says. "This formality by the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Drug Administration simply informs them of our possession of the biological and chemical agents listed."

UNH's Office of Environmental Safety has created an online notification form that lists the "select agents." It is at

If you have any questions about this order, call David Gillum, 2-0197, or Brad Manning, director of environmental safety, at 2-2571.

OS Council drafts donor sick leave plan

By Lori Gula

The OS Council has written its first draft of a donor sick leave program that would allow staff to contribute earned, annual and sick time to a pool of hours that can be used by employees facing catastrophic illnesses or injuries.

The program has been one of the top priorities for both the OS and PAT councils in the last year. The OS Council is working to arrange a presentation on campus by representatives from the state of New Hampshire about a similar program already in place for state workers.

"They are very excited to come and share their plan with us," District 9 Rep. Erika Clifford said.

The program is in the early planning stages, with much of the details about how the program would be administered and who could use it to be worked out. However, the OS Council has created a draft outline of the program, which it was given to the PAT Council and the administration for their review.

The donor sick leave pool is designed to create a general pool for the sole purpose of distributing time to eligible staff facing a catastrophic illness or injury that has resulted in absence without pay because earned time, annual leave and personal sick pool time has been depleted. The pool would be created through donation of earned/annual time by any staff member.

According to the policy draft, an employee may be granted a maximum of 480 hours or 60 days from the pool during a 12-month period, and no more than the current full-time salary may be received by the employee after all benefits from other programs are applied (i.e. short-term disability).

Any UNH employee would be able to transfer earned time or annual leave to the pool. Donations must be made on day increments, with the minimum contribution one day and the maximum three days. Employees would have to have 10 days of accumulated personal sick time or earned time to participate, and once the time has been donated to the pool, it could not be restored to the donor.

Participation in the pool does not guarantee donors would be able to withdraw time. All distributions of pool time would be decided by a donor sick leave committee, which would require supporting documentation from a physician at the time of application.

PAT, OS councils meet new president

By Lori Gula

Despite her short time in Durham, UNH President Ann Weaver Hart already knows what is on the minds of the campus community.

During her introduction to members of the OS and PAT councils at their meetings earlier this month, PAT Council Rep. Marc Laliberte introduced himself and the department where he worked -- transportation and parking -- and paused. That prompted a sigh from the new president, which resulted in a round of hearty laughter from the PAT Council.

"I paused to see how sharp the new president is, and she passed," Laliberte quipped.

And Lonn Sattler, the OS Council's SPPC representative, announced that he met someone from the University of Utah at his night job as a limousine driver. "I am happy to report that somebody from the University of Utah said you were a good president," he said.

Both councils are important groups on campus, she said, and she appreciates what they do for their constituents and the campus community. She then asked about their issues of concern. "I would like to hear what you are talking addition to parking," she said with a smile. "We've been here three weeks, so my learning curve has managed to stay just short of vertical."

PAT Council Chair Linda Hayden said the council had a great year last year, with many accomplishments. In particular, the council was pleased with the communication between it, Human Resources and the system office regarding the benefits cost containment effort and ways to mitigate the increase in costs to those who earn the least.

"We felt really good about that because that was really driven by what we were telling them," Hayden said.

District 7 PAT Council Rep. Gary Armitage said the PAT and OS councils were in more communication over the last year. "We really connected with them on the mitigation strategy. My feeling was that they felt pretty good about the fact that we approached this as it was the best for all," he said.

Both councils told Hart the donor sick leave program is a priority. The councils hope to create a program that allows staff to donate vacation and earned time to a donor sick leave pool that could be used by people facing catastrophic illnesses or injuries who have exhausted their earned, annual and sick time.

Wendy Rappa, an at-large representative on the OS Council, said the council and its constituents are concerned about the parking and transportation situation. "It will be interesting to see what the end result really is," she said.

"It is going very slowly but everything has to happen at certain times," said District 6 OS Council Rep. Julie Johnson-Dubois, who serves on the Transportation Policy Committee.

Hayden said the PAT Council had two successful professional development events recently -- breakfast meetings on long-term healthcare and financial planning. In October, the council is planning a morning breakfast meeting to discuss community building in an organization.

"We had a full house for the last one, 55 people. It's gaining in popularity. We seem to be picking the topics that people want to hear about," District 14 PAT Council Rep. Linda Wood said.

Hart told the OS Council that the administration is discussing how to address the December holiday shutdown time to both councils for input on solutions on how to better manage that time. Currently, staff must use annual or earned time during the period that the university is closed.

"As you know, every year someone will raise an issue about how we manage that closing time and holiday. We've had a couple of discussions lately about what solutions we might want to propose," Hart said.

Anthropology professor unites hard and soft sciences in book

By Erika Mantz

Stephen Reyna, professor of anthropology, has written a book that introduces a groundbreaking social theory on how human beings are connected throughout time.

In "Connections: Brain, mind and culture in a social anthropology," Reyna's string being theory unites two warring intellectual traditions -- hermeneutics, which is a nonscientific literary or "soft" approach, and the "hard" cognitive neuroscience -- to try to understand how the brain, using culture, makes interpretations that lead to actions.

"I'm in the process of trying to create a theory that can be applied to understanding people in all places and in all times," says Reyna, who is also a visiting senior research professor at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany. "My argument is that you have a brain, and that brain allows you to look at what's happened to you and then to react. The brain operates as it is told to by the cultural influences it has been exposed to."