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University of New Hampshire president outlines priorities

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The University of New Hampshire could become one of the nation’s top 25 public universities in the next five years, its new president said Thursday.
James Dean Jr., who took over as the 20th president of UNH in June, outlined what he called four “bold and visionary” strategic priorities: enhancing student success and well-being, expanding academic excellence, embracing New Hampshire and building financial strength.
“We are competing with other universities that are larger, better known and better funded. We have a lot ground to make up on them,” he said in a speech broadcast from the Durham campus. “But if I have learned one thing in my short time here, it is that our university — New Hampshire’s university — is unmatched in the commitment, enthusiasm, grit and loyalty of its students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends.”
Dean also described initiatives in each category, including rethinking the university’s core curriculum, revamping its honors program, and deepening the university’s relationship with New Hampshire businesses, state government officials and high schools. The goal to “embrace New Hampshire” means boosting residents’ pride in the university and attracting the state’s best and brightest students, he said.
“We will be known as a jewel of our rugged, beautiful Granite State,” he said. “Students in New Hampshire will grow up wanting to come to UNH.”
Other initiatives include creating a stand-alone finance department, diversifying revenue sources and better managing costs. Those efforts are part of the priority of achieving financial strength, and the other three priorities depend on success in that sphere, Dean said.
Founded in 1866, UNH is the flagship school of state’s public university system, with 13,000 undergraduate students and 2,400 graduate students. Dean said officials are still determining how it will measure progress, but his overall goal is to put UNH among the top 25 public schools in terms of what he called the “most important elements of academic performance. “ That could include areas such as graduation rates and research funding per faculty member.
Dean most recently served as executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He succeeded Mark Huddleston, who retired after serving 11 years at UNH.