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December 24. 2011 11:35PM

First woman UNH president identified as Bedford accident victim

BEDFORD — Evelyn Handler, the first woman to hold the position of president of the University of New Hampshire, was killed Friday night when she was struck by a car in Bedford.

A member of her family reached at her home in Bow Saturday night confirmed that the woman police identified as Handler was the same woman who served as president of UNH.

“University officials were saddened to learn of the death of former UNH President Evelyn Handler,” Erika Mantz, UNH media relations officer, said in a statement. “She served from 1980 to 1983 and was the first woman to hold the position. The university community extends its condolences to her family and friends.”

Handler was the first woman in the country to be named president of a publicly supported land grant university. She was credited with bringing in $15 million in federal grants for a science and engineering research center.

She left UNH in 1983 to accept a position as president of Brandeis University in Boston. She then moved to California, where she served as director of the California Academy of Sciences.

Bedford police said Handler, 78, was hit by a car driven by Samuel Burke, 35, of New Boston, about 5:20 p.m. while crossing at the intersection of South River Road and Colby Court, which leads to the Bedford Walmart.

She was still lying in the road not responsive when police and rescue crews arrived, police said. She was taken to Catholic Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead, police said.

Police did not say what caused the accident.

“The circumstances surrounding this accident are still under investigation,” the release said.

Part of the intersection was closed during a combination of rush-hour traffic and holiday shoppers as investigators tried to reconstruct the accident.


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