President to Appoint Faculty-Staff-Student Task Force on Budget Challenges
February 16, 2011
For those of you who listened to Governor Lynch's budget proposal to the state legislature this morning, you know that the financial challenges facing the state of New Hampshire continue to be significant. While the news out of Concord is not really surprising, there are two important differences between now and years past. First, we are facing not just a flattening in the state's support of the university, but a real cut. While we won't know the exact size of the cut until June, we do know that it will involve millions of dollars. Second, we at UNH are ready. Exactly one year ago, when we rolled out “UNH in 2020,” we not only imagined what the university would look like over the course of the next decade, we also laid out how we would take our destiny in our own hands.
My primary message to you today is that no matter what impact external influences have on us – financially or otherwise – we will ensure that the initiatives outlined in our strategic plan stay on track. Hewing to those initiatives will lead us not just to survive, not just to continue to meet our core missions, but to lead the renaissance of American higher education in the 21st century.
Reduced state support will take its toll in the short term, to be sure. Even harder-than-usual thinking about how to focus our scarce resources will be necessary. To that end, I will be appointing a faculty-staff-student task force that will be charged with plotting a course through these budget challenges: What can we no longer do? What should we be doing more of? What should we be doing differently?
We must move quickly and decisively. We must have the courage to act and the will to achieve our strategic vision. UNH has never relied solely on state funding. Lamentations and wishes that we had more such funding is not a recipe for success. Neither is recourse to tuition and fee increases that regularly outpace inflation. Our students already graduate with debt loads that are among the highest in the nation. As I warned a year ago, aiming to do the things that other state universities have always done is no longer acceptable or sustainable.
All that said, I remain resolutely optimistic, as should you. UNH is a great institution. Not only will we succeed, but we will lead the way for others. Our faculty and staff are hardworking, creative and resourceful. Together we will rise to--and surmount--our present challenges.
We are at a stage in the biennial state budget cycle where I will communicate with you more often so that you all have the same information at the same time. Meanwhile, please know that I continue to appreciate all that you do to make UNH such a special place.
Mark W. Huddleston
University of New Hampshire