DURHAM — University of New Hampshire President James Dean said on Tuesday that he may have been “too transparent” when he announced last week that for the college to serve its mission, the school’s full-time workforce would likely be reduced.
Faculty, staff and students have expressed concern since Dean mentioned a reduction in staffing through a letter last week.
During his annual State of the University address on Tuesday, he reassured the crowd of approximately 350 that nothing is set in stone.
Teams are being created to explore how to capture potential cost savings and revenue enhancements identified by Huron Consulting in a $600,000 review, which is expected to help UNH realize $12 million in budget benefits over the next two years.
“We’re telling you everything we know about what’s going to happen,” Dean told the crowd.
Dean said any redirection of funding will go to support UNH’s primary academic goals as a top-tier research university. Last year, Dean announced plans to become one of the top 25 public universities nationally in terms of academic performance.
During his speech on Tuesday, about 10 students stood up in protest holding signs that read “Fight for us! Stop the cuts!”
William Hardesty-Dyck is a second-year master’s degree student. He was one of the protesters.
“We’re really concerned about the trajectory of the university,” Hardesty-Dyck said.
Hardesty-Dyck said all staff members contribute to the quality of education that students receive at UNH, and he said he is hoping others will step forward to fight for anyone who may lose his or her job.
Professor James Farrell, who is chairman of the communications department at UNH, asked Dean why the Huron report did not review expenditures within the athletic department. Students are charged a mandatory $1,075 student athletic fee every year, Farrell said.
“I think you raise a good point about athletics, and I think we do need to take a look at it. Point taken,” Dean responded.
After the speech, Dean said the biggest message he wanted to get out on Tuesday is that higher education is a very competitive market so officials have to be careful in how they spend their money to ensure they support their primary goals of providing world-class education and research that benefits people globally.
“We have to be able to go forward. We have to invest in being better. Because around us, across New England, across the country, people are making investments to get better. And that’s what they should be doing, and we need to get better faster than they are,” Dean said.