A Glimpse of the Man Who Will Be President
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
April 25, 2007
Perry Smith photos
Mark Huddleston knows all about The Fish.
Not that it’s a prerequisite for a UNH president, but Huddleston
was a hockey fan before he got the job and was familiar with the practice
of Wildcat fans throwing a dead fish on the ice after scoring the first
goal of a game.
The current Ohio Wesleyan University president who takes over for Interim
President J. Bonnie Newman in July grew up in a family that talked hockey.
His grandfather was from Canada.
“Yes, I’m a fan,” Huddleston said during a recent
interview. “I was never very good at it but I love the sport.
When I was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
I cherished having those hockey tickets.”
So, the newly elected president--confirmed last week by the USNH Board
of Trustees—isn’t completely all-work. Although he does
admit his children, Andy, Kate and Giles, would describe him as a pretty
While that’s true, his wife Emma Bricker says Huddleston, who
has spent the last three decades in higher education as a faculty member,
dean and then senior administrator, has a “great sense of humor.”
“He can be really funny,” Bricker said. “On the really
odd day out, he can be almost silly. He is serious, certainly, but he
also has this really good sense of humor.”
She says his younger children—Kate, 15, and Giles, 11--agree.
Kate (Katherine) calls him “intelligent and a good person” while
Giles says he’s “nice but travels a lot” adding it’s
okay because he still gets to see him.
The couple met in 1988 when Bricker owned a landscaping business. It
was summer and Huddleston was spending a lot of time around a friend’s
pool. Bricker was working there, building a patio and installing a garden.
By then Huddleston, a licensed pilot, had purchased his first plane
and would sometimes tip his wings when flying over his buddy’s
property. The way he tells the story, Bricker asked the friend about
him and said she’d like to co-pilot if Huddleston was ever interested.
“Our first date was in that airplane,” Huddleston said.
Flying is one of the ways the New York native relaxes. He still has
his own plane but it’s not the same one; he had to make an emergency
landing in that first one when he lost an engine. Luckily he was able
to bring it down in an open field and neither he nor the plane had a
scratch on them.
While living in Ohio, owning a plane has allowed the family to travel
to their home in Vermont.
“We sold our house when we moved into the president’s house
at Ohio Wesleyan. It was a strange feeling, to be an adult and not own
property,” Huddleston said of the decision to then buy the house
in Vermont where, coincidentally, his parents now live.
With a nod to its possible political incorrectness, Huddleston admits
to also turning to skeet-shooting as a means of relaxation.
“And I golf enthusiastically but badly,” he said. “I
joke about getting letters from the USGA asking me to stop. I also ski
and have skied Ohio but it’s not really a thrill. The greatest
part is, you get a lot of runs in.”
On a serious note, Huddleston describes what he calls one of the most
exciting things he has ever done: serving as a consultant in war-torn
Bosnia after the Dayton accords. As part of a team trying to help the
country rebuild its financial and administrative infrastructures, he
witnessed the ravages of war.
“We drove past bombed out buildings; buildings riddled with
machine gun fire,” Huddleston said. “It was very sobering.”
Huddleston was raised in Syracuse and spent 24 years at the University
of Delaware in various capacities. The move back east will be a sort
of homecoming. For UNH he says, the best years are yet to come—and
he is happy that he will be a part of that.
“I like to think I’m a really accessible guy. I see students
on a regular basis when I’m wandering around campus,” Huddleston
said, acknowledging that, with 12,000 more students at UNH than at Ohio
Wesleyan, it will be a different experience but not one he wants to
“If I had wanted to be a CEO of a large company, tucked away
in an office somewhere, I would have done that,” he said. “I
think people here really want a president that they see and feel is
a part of the fabric of UNH. That’s very appealing to me.”