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Planning Team Formed To Explore UNH Manchester Expansion

October 31, 2007

As an anchor in Manchester’s vibrant millyard, UNH Manchester has enjoyed continued success since 1985 when it was established as UNH’s urban college. It has become a vital component of the region’s economic engine that is valued by students, business and industry for educational opportunity and workforce development.

Further recognition of UNH Manchester’s crucial role came this summer with news from U.S. Senator John Sununu’s office of a $400,000 appropriation for a planning grant to explore needed upgrades to UNH Manchester‘s classroom and laboratory facilities. The appropriation is moving through the legislative approval process.

Responding to this positive climate, President Mark Huddleston recently appointed a planning team to explore expansion of the Manchester campus. The team represents the university’s campuses in Durham and Manchester, the City of Manchester and community members.

Members of the team, called the UNH Manchester Initiative, include Kristin Woolever, UNH Manchester dean and team chair; Doug Bencks, university architect; Kathy Braun , UNH Manchester director of finance and administration; Dick Cannon, vice president for finance and administration (ex-officio); Taylor Eighmy, vice president for research; Dan Innis, WSBE dean; Ginger Lever, UNH Manchester director of marketing and community relations; Bruce Mallory, provost and executive vice president (ex-officio); Jay Minkarah, director, Manchester Office of Economic Development; Stephen Pugh, associate professor and UNH Manchester science and technology division chair; Harry Richards, dean of the graduate school; Peggy Sullivan, UNH Foundation and Frank Wells, UNH Manchester advisory board member and Senior VP, Hoyle Tanner Engineering.

The focus of the team is to develop models that will meet current and future program needs for the Merrimack valley technology corridor. The team will focus on new programs in science, technology and business responding to economic demands and demographic trends. At the conclusion of its work in the spring of 2008, the team will bring forward options for physical plant and curriculum expansion that are flexible, practical, endorsed by the community and can be staged over time with incremental funding.

Robin Comstock, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, endorsed the college’s focus on science and technology.

“The campus will create jobs and draw and keep employers because of its ability to be progressive and innovative. UNH Manchester contributes to our community, its culture and the economy both directly and indirectly in many ways. And it shapes the direction we will travel into the future. We at the Chamber applaud UNH Manchester, and its expansion goals,” Comstock said.

The need for additional facilities is a present challenge for the college. In order to respond to increased demand for classroom space from undergraduate and graduate education programs this year, UNH Manchester expanded its presence in the millyard to include classroom and office space on the fourth floor of 286 Commercial Street. The college is moving forward with a proposal for a new bachelor’s degree in the biology program to respond to student and industry needs and will need to expand its laboratory space once it receives program approval.

Although N.H.’s economy has been resilient over time, access to higher education and an educated workforce is essential for the region’s continued economic health. Employment trends identified by Ross Gittell, James R. Carter Professor at UNH, speak to the challenges faced by business and industry with an aging population and a need to replace retiring boomers.

Gittell highlights the gap between qualified workers and available jobs in health services, information sciences, business, education and engineering and management.

Angelou Economics’ recent economic assessment of the City of Manchester highlighted the region’s need to invest in education and training to meet demands for skilled works in the future. The report specifically noted the need to expand programs in engineering and science in the area to sustain growth and a positive business climate.

The planning team is scheduled to meet monthly through May and will present its findings and recommendations at that time. For more information on the UNH Manchester Initiative or the work of the planning team, contact UNH Manchester’s Dean, Kristin Woolever.

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