ArchiveLetters Forum Higher LearningSearchContact Us

UNH develops system to track deadly hazards

EPA endorses the use of UNHCEMS at nation's universities

By Lori Gula

With concern about chemical, biological and radiological hazards still on the minds of many Americans, UNH has developed a comprehensive online system that research universities nationwide can use to manage their stores of some of the world's most dangerous substances.

The UNH Chemical Environmental Management System (UNHCEMS) was developed by the UNH Research Computing Center (RCC) in consultation with the UNH Department of Environmental Health and Safety. The Web-based system allows public and private institutions to manage hazardous chemicals stored at multiple locations on their campuses. State and federal guidelines mandate that such institutions meet hazardous materials safety and compliance laws.

Soon it will be able to track thousands of biological agents and radioactive materials.

"Most universities do not maintain comprehensive, online inventories of their hazardous materials. Most universities simply don't have that information available or up to date," says Brad Manning, director of UNH Environmental Health and Safety.

UNHCEMS was developed as part of a settlement agreement with the

Environmental Protection Agency following an EPA inspection at UNH five years ago. At the time, UNH was found to have violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regarding waste disposal in laboratories.

"This online chemical management system holds great potential to help universities and colleges improve tracking and management of chemicals and wastes," says Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, which initiated the enforcement case against UNH and negotiated the settlement that included the project.

"We've found in our inspections that many colleges are wasting significant amounts of chemicals because they do not have systems in place for accurately recording the identity, quantity and location of materials. This system holds great promise to reverse this problem, resulting in campuses that are safer and better for the environment," Varney says.

Two universities, Brown University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, are using UNHCEMS. More universities are expected to being using the system by the summer's end, according to Manning.

The need for such a comprehensive system was proven all too real earlier this year when a faculty researcher at Texas Tech reported 30 vials of the bacteria that causes the plague were missing. Although the vials had been destroyed, the interim period when officials were unsure of what had happened to the vials caused concern nationwide. Had Texas Tech been effectively using a system such as UNHCEMS, the university could have known within minutes exactly if, how and when those vials had been destroyed.

What sets UNH's system apart from commercial products is it is designed for educational institutions and is easily accessible via the Web. Data and software is securely stored at UNH.

"From the standpoint of Homeland Security and the U.S. Patriot Act, this system dramatically increases the ability of universities to track certain hazardous chemicals. For example, if we need to determine if we have a particular hazard on campus, we can query the system and find out within a minute if that substance is on campus and exactly where it is located," Manning says.

"We can ensure we have the necessary security measures in place to prevent unauthorized access to these chemicals and ensure that the faculty member is following all of the required procedures regarding that particular substance," he says. "My counterparts at other universities have had to hire people to go out and look in every laboratory - hundreds of laboratories - to find these hazards."

Although Manning and his department worked closely with RCC in developing the program over the last three years, he is quick to credit RCC with making the system a reality.

"There are not many other academic institutions that have a research computing center. Many universities turn to their administrative computing departments, which are unable to build such a complex system. But because we have this resource as part of our research mission, UNH has developed a system that many universities can use," he says.

Among other, the system provides UNH and client users online chemical inventory management; hazardous waste management tracking; online Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and safety information; the ability to designate certain substances as particularly hazardous; laboratory emergency signage requests; modules that support pollution prevention, and chemical reduction, recycling and reuse; and a centralized chemical purchasing strategy.

"When we started the project, there didn't appear to be any similar solutions that were Web based," says Patrick Messer, associate director of the UNH Research Computing Center. "Our system is developed specifically for higher educational institutions, and I have not found any of the competition coming close to offering what our system provides."

With the development of the system, UNH now provides its local fire department in Durham a CD of its chemical inventory, MSDSs and information about emergency signage, which assists the fire department in its emergency response planning and preparedness activities.

"The success of the program is in large part due to the commitment and involvement from EH&S. They worked closely with RCC throughout the development period, and continue to do so today. Their input helped us mold the program to meet the administrative needs of EH&S and the functionality needs of the chemical owners on campus," Messer says.

He also notes that the success of a single application depends on a solid IT infrastructure. "RCC is fortunate to have the committed and capable staff to deploy and maintain such a strong foundation. RCC has a proven track record for deploying advanced Web/database applications so we were an obvious choice to supply the technical expertise," Messer says.

For this project, that technical expertise was found primarily in Phil Collins, an information technologist with RCC. "He worked tirelessly on this and continues to come up with innovative ideas to keep making it better," Messer says.


University honors Bigglestone with plaza

By Lori Gula

UNH will recognize long-time Director of Women's Athletics and Coach Gail Bigglestone with the naming of the plaza adjacent to Memorial Field in her honor. The dedication of Bigglestone Plaza at Memorial Field will be Sunday, Sept. 7, 2003, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

"Gail is a person of high integrity and accomplishment, and remains deeply respected in the national women's collegiate sports community, as well as by many UNH alums and ex-athletes," UNH President Ann Weaver Hart says. "She has built a women's program at UNH that has attained national recognition, and we take pride in recognizing her in this manner."

Bigglestone Plaza sits between Main Street and Memorial Field, the primary site for women's athletics, particularly field hockey and lacrosse. Recently, the area was enhanced with a synthetic field, architectural fencing, lights and a scoring platform. The upgrades were achieved through charitable efforts made in recognition of Bigglestone.

Bigglestone, a member of the UNH Athletic Hall of Fame and respected ski coach, served as UNH's first director of women's athletics (1975-89) and was directly responsible for the development of one of the most successful women's intercollegiate programs in the country.

During her 14-year tenure as director of women's athletics, the program expanded to 12 sports with more than 200 competitors. UNH won its first national championship (lacrosse, 1985) under her watch. The field hockey squad competed in five NCAA tournaments and finished as the NCAA runner-up in 1986. The women's ice hockey team won six regional titles and the gymnastics team captured three regional titles, while consistently holding a national ranking. The basketball team won two regional titles and qualified for tournament play five times. The cross country, ski, soccer, swim, track and tennis teams regularly qualified for regional and national competitions.

A 1960 graduate of the university, Bigglestone joined UNH in 1970 as an assistant professor of physical education.

She served as head ski coach and was instrumental in organizing women's collegiate skiing as a member of the U.S. Collegiate Sport Council Ski Committee.

In 1983, she was recognized with the UNH Profile of Service Award. She retired from UNH in 1989.


Nursing professor awarded national scholarship

by Sharon Keeler

UNH Assistant Professor of Nursing Janice Foust has been awarded a scholarship from the John A. Hartford Foundation's "Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Scholar" program. She is the first person from the UNH faculty to ever receive this honor.

The program, which began in 2000, aims to create a new group of nursing leaders and scholars to advance the quality of health care to older adults, inform health care policy and build a powerful national network.

One of only eight nurses to receive the post-doctoral scholarship in the prestigious 2003 national competition, Foust will receive $100,000 over two years to support her post-doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania and research in the field of geriatric nursing. She will be working with faculty at Penn's Hartford Center of Geriatric Excellence.

Foust's research focuses on safer discharge planning for older adults being sent home from hospitals. Nearly one in five patients had "adverse events" after they were sent home - most of which could have been prevented or eased with better care - according to a study conducted by the University of Ottawa and Harvard Medical School.

Most of these problems involved difficulties with medications.

Foust says this is not surprising and may be the result of gaps in the healthcare system that need to be corrected.

"We need to move away from blaming individuals who are doing their best, and focus on improving systems within healthcare," Foust says. "Hospitals, clinics and homecare agencies need to develop better ways to make it easier for the elderly to understand and take their medications properly. Right now the responsibility rests on the individuals and their families."

Foust says the elderly often have numerous medications to track - she recalls a patient who kept his pills stored in a fishing tackle box - and this presents a challenge and host of questions. What medications is the patient already taking at home? If the drug is filled generically with a different name than in the hospital, will the patient know it is the same drug? Will the new drug interact with over-the-counter medications?

"We also see patients selectively filling prescriptions because of the high cost," Foust adds.

"We need to make it easier for people, and nurses are in a terrific place to be part of the solution," she says.

Foust's research examines both rural and urban experience, focusing on New Hampshire and the Boston area. She is analyzing medication discharge efforts and will conduct interviews and focus groups with home care nurses, discharge planners, physicians, pharmacists and patients.

"What we're looking at is system change," Foust says. "What are the common issues? What most likely affects patients? Our goal is to

conduct a pilot intervention program the second year."

For example, Foust says a study conducted by Vanderbilt University, Visiting Nurse Services of New York and others found a nurse-pharmacist team improved medication use among older adult homecare patients.

"Communication is the biggest issue," she says. "Patients need to know how to prepare their medications at home, how to set up a schedule, etc. When instructions are given on discharge, this is not exactly the best learning environment. A nurse-pharmacist team checking in with the patient at home would be a valuable strategy, along with better communication with the patient's primary care physician."

Foust says the Hartford Fellowship will help her further her research and eventually provide better and more cost effective care to high-risk older adults.

"What's most exciting for me is that what we learn will not only help those working in the health field, it will help prepare our students to become better nurses," Foust says.

For more information, Foust can be reached at janice.foust@unh.edu or 862-2989.


Revised reports about accreditation available

By Lori Gula


The UNH community is invited to review revised draft reports on the three areas of focus that are the major effort of UNH's comprehensive decennial accreditation review by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

The reports, which focus on the undergraduate experience, engagement through research and scholarship, and institutional effectiveness, incorporate comments and suggestions submitted from faculty and staff during the last three months. The reports are available online at www.unh.edu/neasc/reports.htm.

"The faculty, staff and students on these area committees have dedicated hundreds of hours of their time over the last year. The reports not only offer detailed reflections of our past and present, but they also provide solid recommendations for our future. The university will be well-served by their efforts," says Stephen Hardy, professor of kinesiology and chair of the Self-Study Steering Committee.

UNH is accredited by a number of agencies. Some, such as the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology or the National Athletic Trainers Association, are specific to a segment of academic programs or a single program. As a whole, the university is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, specifically NEASC's Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE).

According to the CIHE, "An institutional accrediting body considers the characteristics of whole institutions. For this reason an institutional accrediting body gives attention not only to the educational offerings of the institutions it accredits, but also to other such institutional characteristics as the student personnel services, financial conditions, and administrative strength."

This accreditation is crucial in many ways, not the least of which is its tie to federally funded financial aid. The most important part of NEASC accreditation, however, is the self-study, which NEASC says lies "at the heart of the accreditation process."

The major effort of UNH's self-evaluation is the alternative self-study, which concerns planning in three areas UNH has identified as critical that have not been closely studied. Each is a subset of one theme in the strategic plan.

"Institutional Effectiveness" focuses on assuring that academic plans and budget plans are consistent, budgeting (RCM) tools are used to achieve strategic priorities, and academic and fiscal integrity is maintained. NEASC's "Statement on Institutional Effectiveness" maintains that "in order to inform its planning, decision-making and resource allocation, an institution needs to determine how well and in what ways it is accomplishing its mission and purposes." This committee is examining how well UNH integrates planning, resource allocation and assessment.

"The Undergraduate Experience" represents the first half of the new vision statement in the Academic Plan. This focus area examines the existing learning goals, attitudes and behaviors of undergraduates; and recommends ways to elevate and clarify goals for all students. The report particularly addresses advising, internships, international education, undergraduate research and student life.

"Engagement Through Research and Scholarship" represents the second half of the new Academic Plan-using research to serve the public good. This report includes a definition of "engagement" as "a mutually beneficial collaboration between the University of New Hampshire (New Hampshire's land, sea, and space grant university) and community partners for the purpose of generating and applying relevant knowledge to directly benefit the public." It describes existing programs of engagement at UNH, and offers recommendations for strengthening the university's commitment to this part of its mission.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to submit further comments to the steering committee by Aug. 20. The final version of the reports will be sent to NEASC at the end of August. From Oct. 20-22, the full NEASC team will visit UNH to evaluate the university regarding its compliance with NEASC standards. Faculty and staff will have the opportunity to attend open forums as part of the formal visit.

For more information on the accreditation process and the alternative self-study, visit www.unh.edu/neasc/index.htm.


UNH's hidden jewel: Mendum's Pond

By Lori Gula


As young children squatted on the forest floor delicately picking wild blueberries and gobbling them up, couples and co-eds sunbathed on secluded rocks warmed by the day's sun that hugged the shoreline.

It was another spectacular day on Mendum's Pond at the UNH Recreation Center.

One of UNH's hidden jewels for faculty, staff and students, Mendum's Pond is located on Hall Road off Route 4 in Barrington. Visitors to the 200-acre recreation area can swim (there are no lifeguards), rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboat, or hike around and enjoy the abundance of wildlife. Recently, there has been timber harvest activity, leaving openings in the forest, which is prime real estate for deer and moose.

Lucky visitors may spot the pond's pair of loons. UNH keeps track of where they nest every year and diverts visitors away from the area during the nesting period.

"Few universities have places like Mendum's Pond, and we want the university to enjoy university space. We would love to have the students out here more. We want it to be used, used well, but used correctly and safely," says Denny Byrne, director of Campus Recreation.

In 1930, Arthur W. McDaniel donated a small parcel of what is now known as Mendum's Pond to the UNH Women's Athletic Association. In 1970, he granted the rest of the area to UNH for $1.

For the last few decades, UNH has used some of the shoreline property to house its Sailing Club. The rest of the property has been allocated according to McDaniel's wishes: a recreation area, an active natural and wildlife area, and a timber harvesting area. In addition to the boat rentals, visitors can picnic in two pavilions, including one with a nearby playground, or on outside picnic tables. Several grills are available throughout the property.

Matt Reitan, a senior in mechanical engineering, is working his second summer at Mendum's Pond."This is a beautiful area that is very private and has no public access other than the UNH access. It's a great place to kayak if you are a beginner. It's not rough and there is hardly any traffic," Reitan says.

And the fishing is good, says Reitan, who enjoys catching large-mouth bass at the pond. "Mendum's Pond is quiet and there are no big crowds. It's a great place for families because there is no alcohol allowed," he says.

Faculty and staff are admitted for free with a valid UNH ID with a Mendum's Pond sticker available for free to employees and students.

Mendum's two pavilions with large grills are available for group events and can be reserved in advance for $20. If a group of 10 or more calls two weeks in advance, they receive a group rate of $2 per person entrance fee and $2 per boat per hour rental fee. The area is open 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily through Sept. 1. From Sept. 6 to Sept. 28, it is open weekends during the same hours.

Mendum's is also available during the off season to group activities. Reservations should still be made at least two weeks in advance and are subject to staff availability. Directions and additional information about use of the area are available at the Service Desk in the Hamel Recreation Center.


Innovative social work practice in rural communities focus of national institute

By Sharon Keeler


Health and human services professionals from around the country have gathered at the MUB this week for the 28th National Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas, which concludes tomorrow.

Sponsored by UNH's Department of Social Work, the institute highlights the importance of identifying needs and meeting challenges to foster innovative practice in rural communities.

Gary Bailey, National Association of Social Work president, was a featured speaker. Other featured topics include:

  • Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment.

  • What's So Different About Rural Health Care?

  • Rural Underemployment and Health

  • Faith-Based Mentoring Programs

  • Counting the Homeless: Educating Students in Rural Community-Based Practice

  • Employment for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime: Creating Jobs in a No-Jobs Environment.

  • Welfare-to-Work: A Rural Perspective, Mental Health of Children in Poverty: Rural vs. Urban

  • Healthy Aging: Interdisciplinary Strategies for Communities and Practitioners

Continuing Education fall catalog available

By Heather L. Smith


This fall, UNH Continuing Education will offer more than 500 day and evening, undergraduate and graduate credit courses, and over 250 one-day seminars and noncredit courses and workshops for professional development and personal enrichment.

The UNH Continuing Education Catalog outlining credit and noncredit courses offered during the fall semester is now available. The catalog may be obtained by phone, e-mail, mail, Web, or in-person.

To request a catalog, call 862-4234, visit the Web at www.learn.unh.edu, e-mail the request to learn.dce@unh.edu , write to UNH Continuing Education, 24 Rosemary Lane, Durham, NH 03824, or stop by the Registration Office in Durham at Stoke Hall, 11 Garrison Ave.

Individuals who do not have a college degree can pursue an associate in arts or bachelor's degree through part-time day and evening study at UNH. Many postbaccalaureate degree programs are also available.

Credit courses are open to anyone with a high school diploma or its equivalent. Credits earned are recorded on an official UNH transcript and may be transferable to degree programs at UNH or other institutions. A wide range of courses are offered in the arts and sciences.

Credit courses start Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Eleven short-term noncredit career certificate programs are offered through UNH Continuing Education, including marketing, project management, professional coaching, graphic arts, supervisory skills, human resources management, computer applications, desktop publishing, Web site development and more.

Noncredit courses are open to anyone 18 years and older and start at various times throughout the fall semester. Noncredit workshop topics include: management and business, computers, the arts, fitness and health, social work and counseling, teaching and school administration, nonprofit management, health and human services, engineering, real estate, photography, writing and many more.

Mail, fax and Web registration began Aug. 4. Phone and in-person registration begins Aug. 11.

Space is limited, so early registration is advised.

Campus Journal is published on Fridays during the school year, and every other Friday during the summer. Deadline for submitting information is Friday noon, the week before publication. The editor can be reached at 862-0574. You may also send information to campus.journal@unh.edu.