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UNH public affairs office thins ranks to modernize

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 09. 2014 8:39PM

DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire is consolidating its office of Communications and Public Affairs and laying off some staff.

Erika Mantz, UNH director of media relations, said Friday that the changes are part of an ongoing effort to get the school up to date in the world of communications. It could mean as many as a dozen reorganized positions once the process is completed this summer, Mantz said.

“There has been an enormous transformation in the communications landscape over the last decade, and there has been very limited change made at the university in regards to staffing to accommodate those broad shifts,” she said.

Administrators were trying to get people with the abilities needed to handle the work requirements of the current era, which long ago started a shift from print material to digital content. While some current employees may be laid off or will retire because of the shift, new people could be hired for new positions, she said. The Communications Department has about 30 employees, she said.

She said the change won’t result in a smaller department, but one better equipped to handle new needs. 

“We needed people with the skill sets that match the work,” Mantz said.

UNH President Mark Huddleston cited a need for modern marketing efforts during his state of the university speech Feb. 4.

Mantz said reorganization has been going on since late March and more than half of the staff has been placed in new positions. The restructuring continues into the summer and UNH expects a combination of layoffs and early retirements totaling as many as 12.

Huddleston made it clear changes were coming when he listed “branding and marketing” as the second of five strategic priorities for UNH in his annual address.

“Quality doesn’t matter if no one knows about it. For too long, UNH failed to tell its own story effectively,” Huddleston said. “We can no longer be content to be an undiscovered gem and a well kept secret.”

Mantz said the communications department accounts for less than one percent of the UNH overall budget and that amount will not decrease.

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