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Student Senate Update: Q&A with President Dean

What does the President have to say about pressing issues on campus? Student senators try to find out the fate of the student body as the President’s retirement looms.
University President James Dean hosted a Q&A about his retirement at the latest Student Senate meeting.

DURHAM, NH- University of New Hampshire (UNH) President James Dean was the much-anticipated guest speaker at Student Senate’s weekly meeting last Sunday, Oct. 1. 

After his retirement announcement, many student senators, amongst others on campus, are left with questions as to who might replace him and how this change may affect the student body. Dean hosted a question-and-answer session with the student senate, highlighting topics such as safety on campus, finances and the process that the university is going through to find the president’s successor. 

Traffic Troubles

In a recent monthly update sent on Sept. 9 to students over email, Dean expressed his concerns for student safety, regarding recent traffic trends and traffic law violations on campus. At Sunday’s meeting, Dean emphasized his concerns for safety on campus when he asked that “the student senate tries to play an active role in student safety.”  

He further explained that there have been “multiple accidents over the past year, some of which have been near fatal.”  

In response, Dean said that the university is targeting a campus infrastructure upgrade to promote safer roads. 

“One thing we really need is flashing lights at crosswalks to try to get people to slow down,” he said. 

Budget Blights

Dean also explained enrollment was lower than the university had originally planned on in the budget, so they are currently working on revising the budget so that the university can maintain their budget goals.  

“We’re reevaluating parts of the budget because we simply don’t have as many students in the university as we thought we would. So, enrollment is a little lower, and we’re making some budget changes.” 

He added that, “we have a responsibility as a university to have a budget which has a 1% operating margin, which means we have 1% more revenue than we do expenses, and we’re finding it difficult to reach that target, so we’re doing a number of things to try and fix that.” 

Dean also explained that decreased enrollment presents an issue for the university because “fewer students is a challenge for us because student tuition and auxiliaries, like dining and residence halls, is where a lot of revenue comes from.” 

However, he said UNH has “consistently been in the top ten for best value over the past few years.” Best value measures how a university’s quality of education compares in terms of its price of tuition.  

Student Senators’ nametags were spread across a desk prior to the meeting’s start. (Aime)

Successor Search

Afterward, Dean addressed concerns over the search process for his successor, and what he hopes the change will bring to the university. 

“The search process has already started. We are in the process of hiring a search consultant,” Dean said. He added that a search committee will be formed, with the intent of including students in the committee, so that all voices on campus will be included in the decision making process. 

Dean mentioned that he hopes to be able to amend some of these financial difficulties in the time he has left as president, so that the future president may be able to use more of the university’s budget to invest in new resources for students. 

“My hope is that in the nine months that I have left is to be able to address the financial challenges in a way that will give some budget headroom to my successor, which means that he or she will be able to ask the question, ‘What can we invest in to make the university better?’” he said.

Dean also addressed the timeline of this leadership change. 

“The plan that the Board of Trustees has is to have someone selected by March or April of next year,” Dean said. However, it is unclear yet when an announcement will be made on this decision.  

Student Senators in attendance of the last senate meeting voted on a resolution regarding Student ID cards. (Aimee Rothman)

Resolution Review

The senate laid out a resolution regarding Student ID Cards that urged the university to reconsider their policy on Student ID cards, regarding preferred names. The bill, which was introduced by student senator Tanner Faucher, suggested that the “ID Office allow students to change the names on their Student ID to their preferred name even if it is not their legal name.” 

The resolution also recommended “the ID Office not charge for the first replacement of a Student ID.” Replacement cards currently cost $25. 

The resolution added that ID cards should have the student’s ID number printed on the card as, “students are asked to recite and enter their Student ID for various on campus resources, student life events and various security measures, such as voting in Student Senate elections, to book an appointment at the Connors Writing Center, or book an appointment with Health and Wellness.” 

The senate voted that the resolution should be remanded back to the Community Development Council, so that they continue their work on this resolution. 

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Aimee Rothman
Aimee Rothman, Staff Writer

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