EDUCATION

UNH president: Despite funding hurdles, university is growing

Posted Sept. 16, 2011, at 7:45 a.m.

DURHAM, N.H. — To keep the University of New Hampshire on track for funding after losing state revenue this year, university President Mark Huddleston said they are expecting to increase revenue by fundraising and the elimination about 150 positions, mostly through attrition.

Huddleston said after the state cut nearly 50 percent of state funding this year, he has been thinking of ways to help keep the university on track.

“New Hampshire was already last in the nation in per capita support for higher education before the budget was passed,” he said. “And this cut was the steepest in the history of higher education in America, ever.”

The $32.5 million in budget cuts to higher education was “deeply disproportionate,” he said. The cuts are only part of the belt tightening that the university has seen, Huddleston said. The school has already felt the brunt of a tough economy, by putting a freeze on hiring and salaries and scaling back staff.

Due to the recent state funding cuts, Huddleston said they are expecting to eliminate about 150 positions, of which they hope to cut through attrition and separation incentives.

He said he hopes less than 10 percent will come through layoffs. When those cuts will occur is still unknown.

If the university had pushed the costs to make up onto students and their families, tuition would have increased by $4,650, instead of the current $650 increase.

“I wish I could report that our budget worries are behind us today, but the truth is that while we are making strides toward a more sustainable future, we are not entirely out of the storm-tested woods,” he said. “And we must remain focused on securing our financial foundation.”

The university is also planning to continue looking for avenues to raise funds. In July, the university entered into its planning phases for a comprehensive universitywide fundraising campaign.

At the time, the amount the school hopes to raise is unknown, but president of the UNH Foundation Peter Weiler said they may not know the total until the spring of 2014. By then, they hope to have completed a comprehensive study to learn what the school hopes it could raise through donations.

“While we haven’t set a firm goal, I can assure you that this effort will be groundbreaking in its reach, momentum, and spirits,” Huddleston said. “It will set a new standard for how we draw on our potential to serve and to engage the people of New Hampshire, the nation, the world.”

Despite funding difficulties, Huddleston said the university is growing — a sign that the school can move forward out of its crisis. Over the last year, the university has seen tremendous efforts to move forward, he said.

Students enrolled in online courses have grown in numbers with more than 2,100 students studying 88 courses over the last year, while enrollment in the January term has risen from 448 students in its first year to 639 in its second.

The school also broke ground on the new Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics this summer, which will allow more students to attend the university.

The Confucius Institute, a new partnership with Chengdu University in China, offers students a full curriculum in Chinese language and culture. At a time when China is the third largest trading partner for New Hampshire, the institute provides opportunities not only for students but also for businesses in the state.

Also, in May, the school graduated its first class from the UNH School of Law. The school has teamed up with the Whittemore School of Business and Economics to offer a dual JD and MBA degree program.

“Not only are we innovating as educators and collaborators, we are, as I suggested, developing new funding sources that will make us more sustainable,” he said.

(c)2011 the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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