On a typical Thursday afternoon in the Murkland courtyard, students at UNH can be found shuffling between classes and heading to hit the books at Dimond Library. This past Thursday, Oct. 6, however, the courtyard was an entirely different scene as students stopped to talk to a face usually hidden behind administrative doors: UNH President Mark Huddleston.
Thanks to the president himself and UNH Catering Services (part of Hospitality Services), students were able to talk to the big man himself under more casual circumstances, an event known as “Sliders with Mark.”
This gathering allowed for students to connect with the president on a more personal level while also grabbing a delicious bite to eat.
“It’s just a chance to meet students and have them meet me,” Huddleston said regarding the event. “[I want students to] chat with me and get the idea that I am accessible.”
Catering Services provided pulled pork sliders, cupcakes, cookies, chips, and mushroom sliders for the vegetarian pallets. Huddleston even allowed sliders seconds, which some students said showed his kind and generous spirit.
Although the event only ran for one hour, and most students admitted to attending only for the free sliders, many left the event with a full stomach and a new perspective on the president.
“It was more of a very casual experience, which was nice,” senior finance major Anna Christofori said. “In school it’s a lot of all business all the time…so it was nice to just say hello.”
Christofori went further by commenting on Huddleston’s attire (a plaid button down and khaki pants), stating it made him seem “approachable,” and that she felt more comfortable than ever to go speak with the head honcho.
Not only was Huddleston in attendance of the event, and made a point to greet everyone who came through, but he also rolled up his sleeves and got down and dirty serving the food from behind the table. Due to this sense of causality, students admitted to feeling more comfortable approaching him with questions; new, old and even controversial.
Though some students had in-depth conversations with the man in charge, others decided to greet him, thank him for the food and be on their merry way. However, they admitted that their lack of conversation was not due to Huddleston’s intimidation, but rather, their lack of questions.
“I’m sure if I had a talking point he would be super comfortable talking to me,” senior recreation management and policy major Mary Kelliher said. Though Kelliher refrained from an in-depth conversation, she said she was still pleased with the event because it made him personable. “I just wanted to be in his presence,” she said.
Whether or not students chose to converse with the president, the event still brought in a multitude, and gave everyone a chance to eat, socialize and take a break from classes.
If you missed your chance to speak with the president, have no fear, as more events with Huddleston are on the way.
“I’m sure we will do something at Christmas,” Huddleston said. “I think we will grow and [these events] will be a good addition.”