The CEO Forum, October 2007
Remarks by Mark W. Huddleston
University of New Hampshire
New England Center, Durham, N.H.
October 30, 2007
Welcome and good morning. I'm honored to be here with you today after hearing so much about the CEO Forum since I joined UNH in July. And having just completed my first quarter here, to use language that will resonate with this audience, I am happy to report that all indicators are positive. Not only are our current fundamentals—faculty and students, programs, infrastructure—strong, but the future is very bright indeed.
In fact, I believe that UNH has so managed to get right many of the things that other major American universities managed to get wrong in the post-World War II era—things having to do with scale, interdisciplinarity, community engagement, integration of undergraduate students with the research enterprise—that I am convinced that this institution is poised to become the model of the new American university.
On a personal level also I've been enjoying my transition to the University—and to the State of New Hampshire—immensely. As I said to my wife the other day when we were walking around Portsmouth, I am still (happily) coming to terms with the fact that we now live in a place that other Americans actually come to visit on their vacations.
>Seriously, though, I have been particularly pleased these past three months to see such close and constructive connections between the University and our business community.
I know that many of you have longstanding ties with the University of New Hampshire, and you know at least as well as I how important such partnerships are. New Hampshire works—and I mean that in every sense of the phrase—because these partnerships work. You know that, we at the University know it, and our friends in state government know it.
What you may not know is how rare such partnerships are. This fact was driven home to me, as is often the case, I suppose, by what is perhaps an extreme counter-example. In the early 1990s, when I was on the faculty at the University of Delaware, I began taking groups of students on study abroad programs to Mexico. Over the course of many such trips, I became close friends with many people in Merida, the site of my programs, and over many rounds of cervezas with those friends over those years, I spent a lot of time talking about the abysmal state of economic development in Mexico—and about ways to address it.
What slowly dawned on me, as one idea after another was dismissed as impractical, was the extent to which the cooperation among business, academia and government that I took as commonplace was simply non-existent in the Yucatan. Not only didn't these sectors work together. They were positively hostile toward one another.
So, with support from the US State Department, I put together a program on what I came to call "the Delaware Model”—so-called because I came to recognize Delaware as a wonderful example of intersectoral cooperation—and took it on the road, not only to Mexico, but to Southern Africa, the Balkans and other exotic locations.
My message was always the same: Partnerships across sectors—business, government and academe—are essential for the survival, not to mention the prosperity, of any one partner.
This is a message that New Hampshire obviously already gets. In fact, I've already retagged my framework the "New Hampshire Model.” Let me give you just three examples of which I am particularly fond:
The first is the unique relationship we have forged with Waste Management of N.H. Our collaboration on what we have come to call EcoLine™ takes UNH and New Hampshire to the forefront of sustainability initiatives in higher education. We are now well on our way to finishing the 12.7-mile pipeline system that will transport renewable, carbon-neutral landfill gas from Waste Management's Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise facility in Rochester to our co-generation plant on the Durham campus. When it is completed, UNH will be the first university in the United States to use landfill gas as a primary energy source, with nearly 85% of our energy needs met from this project. Not only does this make great economic sense for us: It carries tremendous environmental benefits. We will, as a result of EcoLine, reduce our greenhouse emissions by 67 percent, well below what is called for in the Kyoto Protocol. We will be reducing emissions by actually reducing emissions, and not through the purchase of credits or offsets.
This is an exciting project, one that demonstrates what a small state institution can accomplish through a blend of Yankee ingenuity, responsible fiscal strategy, and the collective vision of key stakeholders.
I like to think about a student, in another year or two, studying in her dorm room by the light from a lamp powered by renewable landfill gas. And when you consider the amount of trash that the average undergraduate generates, well, THAT'S sustainability.
The second example I would cite is our partnership with Stonyfield Farms and other organic producers. The University's Organic Dairy Research and Education program exemplifies industry/education cooperation. The research that takes place on our campus has a direct impact on the bottom line of an industry that is critical to New Hampshire's—and the region's—future. In return, UNH realized financial support for research and infrastructure needs, as well as internship opportunities for our students in nutrition, life sciences, and engineering.
A final example is Kingsbury Hall, home of UNH's College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, or CEPS. Some of you may have joined me at its recent rededication. Kingsbury is not only a beautiful, state-of-the-art building equipped with the finest laboratories and high-technology teaching space, but it is also a grand symbol of the New Hampshire model. Many people, from across academia, government, and the private sector, joined together to bring Kingsbury to fruition. New Hampshire legislators were key partners in this groundbreaking effort, which began during the 2001 legislative session with sponsoring and supporting House Bill 336.
This bill became known as the Knowledge Economy Education Plan, or KEEP-NH. KEEP-NH provided the infrastructure essential to fostering the health and future of New Hampshire's economy. If New Hampshire and her businesses wish to nurture an educated workforce to remain competitive in the 21st century economy which we all face and which I have just mentioned, we must work together. BAE SYSTEMS provided leadership support for the Kingsbury campaign with a $1 million gift to establish an advanced technology center.
This new building, and this technology center, helped increase enrollment at our College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. A natural outcome of this increased enrollment will be a greater number of highly educated CEPS graduates—potential employees looking for opportunities to serve technology-related businesses across the state.
There are literally hundreds of other examples I could mention. While all are important, what is really essential is the spirit that underlies them, the recognition that we do not live in silos, that our futures are inextricably intertwined.
That has undoubtedly always been true, at least to some extent. It will become even more true as we move deeper into this new century. Knowledge is the fuel—the only sustainable fuel—of the new economy. America's place in the highly competitive, fast changing flat world of the 21st century is by no means assured. We need to strengthen our partnerships, and accelerate our mutual efforts to give ourselves a fighting chance to succeed.
One way we sought to raise our game was by working, successfully as it happened, to get New Hampshire designated an EPSCoR state. EPSCOR stands for Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, and it is a program linked to NSF and other major federal programs that, as its name suggests, helps bootstrap research for economic development. It facilitates state agencies, the legislature, New Hampshire business, and academic institutions, especially UNH, working together to identify areas of promising research investment.
This program has already generated $12.5 million in just the past two years in sponsored grants supporting our technology-based economic development efforts.
UNH is also home to the New Hampshire Innovation Research Center, a state-funded initiative that fosters cooperative industry and university research partnerships that result in more and better, 21st century-oriented jobs. This center provides support to help small companies move their ideas from the lab bench to the marketplace and their balance sheets from red to black. This center has already awarded more than $4 million in grants to more than 100 New Hampshire companies.
Again, the point of these examples is simple: Creative partnership between business, academia and government is the way of the future. None of us will survive without it.
Winston Churchill once said, "Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful sees it for what it really is—the strong horse that pulls the whole cart.”
We at UNH are part of that handful. We are eagerly looking for new and innovative ways to blend our research with private enterprise know-how. The opportunities for collaborative partnerships are limitless. If you're looking for ideas, peruse a copy of Engaging UNH: Connecting Business with the University of New Hampshire. You have probably already gotten a copy, but if not, there are additional copies available for you here today to take with you. This comprehensive document is designed to link you easily with the University and its people and resources. I trust you will find some intriguing ways in its pages to connect with us.
I'm looking forward to seeing some of those connections play out, so that when I come back to speak to the CEO forum five or six years from now, my examples of UNH partnerships come from you and your companies.
Thank you again for inviting me to join you today. The power of education—one of New England's biggest and best resources—should never be undervalued. Nor should our work as partners in ensuring our state's and our region's continued economic vitality. I speak for everyone at UNH when I say that I look forward to working with you and to building new partnerships in the years to come.