The Student News Site of University of New Hampshire

The New Hampshire

The New Hampshire

The New Hampshire

Follow Us on Twitter

Outlining the Future of UNH Through Campus Master Plan

On Jan. 26, Dean Blackman wrote an email to the student body about a Campus Master Plan that included information on how they will survey the student body to find out what UNH students would like to see more of on campus.
Sarah Donovan

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) is undergoing a transformational process of assessing its facilities and physical campus by updating the Campus Master Plan. The plan’s objective is to lead campus development forward to have the physical campus support UNH’s priorities. 

As reported by Campus Stewardship’s About section of the Campus Master Plan, and UNH’s Student Senate Instagram account, “unh.studentbodyprez,” UNH has set “Four Strategic Priorities” as its framework for updating the Campus Master Plan. Those priorities include: “Enhance Student Success & Well Being, Expand Academic & Research Excellence, Embrace New Hampshire, [and] Build Financial Strength,” according to the About section of the 2023 Campus Master Plan Update.

Kenneth Weston, executive director of Campus Stewardship and university architect, said that the plan is required to be updated every 10 years. Campus Stewardship initiated the update of the Master Plan in 2023, as the last Master Plan was published in 2012. 

Updating the Master Plan is not related to the recent university budget cuts, Weston clarified in an email.

“There was no awareness of the recent budget cuts when the project was conceived. We have made the design team aware of the budget cuts and are still evaluating the implication[s] to the Master Plan,” said Weston.

The university has hired Perkins&Will, a design firm, to aid in designing the new framework, said Dean of Students, Michael Blackman, in an email to the UNH student body. Weston said that Perkins&Will have a “3-phase approach” to assisting the university in creating an updated design for the Master Plan. 

The three phases are engagement and analysis, scenarios and synthesis. Weston said that he and his team are concluding the engagement and analysis phase, which consisted of meetings with nine committees, one student survey, one faculty and staff survey, 50 stakeholder interviews, one student engagement meeting in the MUB and weekly Campus Stewardship meetings. 

Weston said that Perkins&Will “are producing maps, reports, presentations and digital tools to help us vet scenarios and make decisions for the future of the campus.”

Weston said they must submit final recommendations regarding the Master Plan to University leadership and the Board of Trustees by June. After the plan is approved, it will go into adoption.

Students are encouraged to submit feedback to help guide the Master Plan. Dean Blackman sent an email to the student body on Jan. 26 inviting students to take part in a Campus Master Plan survey. In his email, Blackman said that the survey aims to engage the UNH community. 

“Student input will help the Master Planning Team consider the interconnected relationships between academics, facilities, culture, community, and the environment. This process will lead to implementable strategies aligned with our mission, location, and strengths to strategically set UNH apart and better support our community,” said Blackman in his email to the student body. 

The Campus Master Plan survey first asks demographic questions to determine what class year the respondent is and if they live in university or off-campus housing. The survey asks if students are satisfied with their residence, and why or why not. 

The survey goes on to prompt questions that ask respondents to rate which UNH facilities they’d recommend the university prioritize investments in. These spaces include instructional buildings, dining spaces and indoor recreational spaces. 

Further demographic questions are asked in the survey to “understand the variety of lived experiences within the UNH community that should be reflected in an inclusive Master Plan,” the survey reads. 

The survey asks the respondent to select their race/ethnicity, their gender identity and if the respondent identifies as having a disability termed under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Students around campus shared what they thought the university should financially prioritize. Kelly Brown, a second-year student, said she took the Campus Master Plan survey and shared that she would like to see more funding for her club rowing team. 

Brown said that the club only has the bare necessities, and doesn’t receive enough funding. 

“It feels like we’re not supported by the university,” Brown said. 

She shared that the club does have a financial chair who attends weekly meetings to discuss their budget, but she thinks the club could use more funding. 

Brown said that she thought the survey was a good way to involve students and solicit feedback. 

When asked if there was anything she wanted to see more of at UNH, she said that she “wish[es] they’d bring back the therapy dogs.”

Natalie Holmes, a first-year student, said that she did not take the Campus Master Plan survey, but would like to see more dining options. 

Hannah Smith, also a first-year student, said that she’d like to see more fresh options that are vegetarian-friendly. She said that there are not many options for fresh fruit at the dining hall, and that’s something she’d like to see improved. 

Further, Smith shared that she thinks a lot of prospective students turn away from UNH because of the lack of parking, specifically for first-year students who cannot keep a car on campus. 

The Campus Master Plan seeks further collaboration in the coming months from students and the wider UNH community. Weston said that there will be town hall meetings to come, where the UNH community can engage and learn more about the university’s future planning.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Sarah Donovan
Sarah Donovan, Content Editor

Comments (0)

All The New Hampshire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *