USNH Chancellor Stephen Reno to Step Down After the 2008-09 Academic Year
June 11, 2008
Stephen J. Reno, chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire (USNH),
has announced he will be stepping down from his position at the end of the
next academic year in June 2009. Reno will be the longest serving chancellor
in the 46-year history of the University System.
He was appointed in June 2000, having served formerly as the president of
Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, and has spent four decades in
academic leadership roles.
Upon announcing his intentions, Reno made the following statement:
“My primary focus is on the year ahead, not those behind. We have real
work to do over the coming months to present the case for financial support
of public higher education to the people of our state and to their elected
representatives, as well as to the business and municipal communities, and
the more than 30,000 students we educate on an annual basis. It continues to
be an honor to serve the people of New Hampshire in this role and I am grateful
to all who have joined the cause of championing the importance of higher education
in the life and in the future of our state.
The year ahead, with its presentation of the USNH operating and capital budget
requests, will be a challenging one, yet we must keep in clear view the shared
responsibility we all have to ensure that the people of New Hampshire have
affordable access to an education of quality. As was the primary task assigned
me eight years ago, so it will be in the year ahead - namely, to raise the
profile of the University System and to advocate for its critical role in the
economy and life of the state of New Hampshire and its citizenry.”
During his tenure as chancellor, Reno has worked with three chairs of the
USNH Board of Trustees: Bruce Keough, John Lynch, and Andy Lietz. During that
time, Reno has worked also with trustees, legislators, business and community
leaders, colleagues in education, and constituencies across the state to advance
the cause of public higher education, beginning with the “KEEP-NH” campaign
(the “Knowledge Economy Education Plan”) in 2001 that established
a new model for funding key construction and renovation projects across the
Passed in two phases, the New Hampshire Legislature committed $209.5 million
during a 12-year period for the renovation and enhancement of buildings supporting
science, engineering, technology, and teacher education - an unprecedented
investment in these key educational resources.
Of the many projects in which he has played a major role, Reno is most pleased
with the appointment of the current presidents of the four institutions during
the past four years that comprise USNH: Karol LaCroix, president of Granite
State College, Helen Giles-Gee, president of Keene State College, Sara Jayne
Steen, president of Plymouth State University, and, most recently, Mark Huddleston,
president of UNH.
“New Hampshire is exceedingly fortunate to have as presidents of its
public colleges and universities such persons of talent, virtue, and commitment,” Reno
Some highlights of efforts that have been advanced across USNH during Reno’s
tenure include the following:
· Greater linkages between the New Hampshire business community and
the USNH colleges and universities, including the establishment of business
liaisons at each institution that serve as a single point of contact.
· A new framework of collaboration between the university system and
the Community College System of New Hampshire, leading to transfer and articulation
programs between the two, co-location of facilities, and the Connections Program,
which allows for seamless transfer from a community college to a USNH institution
after one year of study based on certain academic accomplishments.
· Creation of the Affordable College Effort (ACE), a program developed
by USNH Vice Chancellor Ed MacKay and strongly supported by Reno and the Board
of Trustees that covers the direct cost of a college education at a USNH institution
through grant funds for economically disadvantaged New Hampshire students.
· The expansion of Project Mentor, which originally operated at UNH
and is now operational at all four USNH institutions. Project Mentor links
college students with low-aspiration middle school students in order to help
them see college in their future and to prepare for it.
· Development of “The Latino Initiative,” a partnership
with the New Hampshire College and University Council, that already has an
impressive track record of encouraging Latino young people to set their sights
on college and to prepare for it.
· In partnership with the NH business and professional communities,
Reno has championed the so-called “55 Percent Initiative,” an effort
to market to soon-to-be NH college graduates the many advantages of starting
their careers in New Hampshire and to link them into the newly-emerging young
professional networks that have been formed across the state.
“I have served on the board with Steve for seven of the eight years
he has been the chancellor, the last four as the board chair. In our countless
meetings and conversations, I have enjoyed his intellect, knowledge of higher
education, and his ability to bring people together in an environment that
can often be quite challenging. He’s truly committed to this university
system and will remain very engaged in this coming year. I want to thank him
for his work and for his many successful efforts to advance the mission of
USNH across this state,” said Lietz.
With his signature bow tie, Reno is a regular testifier at legislative committee
hearings, a speaker at business, professional, and community gatherings, and
a person who has never forsaken the habits of a former university president
in his efforts to be close to students, those on whose behalf he works.
“Whenever I leave for a hearing in Concord or a speech somewhere in
the state, I always spend the last hour at one of our campuses in order to
be with students and to remind myself why it is I’ll be doing what I’ll
do,” Reno said.
Reno has served as the chair of the New Hampshire Postsecondary Education
Commission, on the board of directors of the Business Industry Association
of New Hampshire, as vice chair of the board of trustees of New Hampshire Public
Radio, on the Executive Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers,
as state representative to the New England Board of Higher Education, on the
board of Catholic Medical Center, on the academic board of the Salt Center
for Documentary Field Studies (in Maine), and on the board of Leadership New
He is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Winchester, England, and a regular
accreditation team leader reviewing colleges and universities for the Northwest
Commission on Colleges and Universities in Redmond, Washington.
While he has no defined plans after leaving the post of chancellor in 2009,
Reno will consider possibilities, including returning to his professional field
of comparative religion, as well as finding new ways to serve the New Hampshire
According to section 187-A:16 of New Hampshire State Law, the chancellor of
the university system serves “as the chief executive officer of the university
system, as the university system's primary liaison with the general court and
other elements of state government, and as chief spokesman for the university
system. The chancellor shall serve as chairperson of the administrative board
of the university system, leading and coordinating the efforts of the chief
officers of the component institutions of the university system, and shall
have such other duties as the board of trustees may determine.”