The Future of UNH: Four Strategic Priorities

The Future of UNH: Four Strategic Priorities
Students walking next to Hamilton Smith in the spring

Four strategic priorities are guiding UNH toward a bold, overarching aspiration – to be among the nation’s top 25 public universities in the most important measures of academic performance. President James W. Dean Jr. announced this plan in January 2019, and this website captures our ongoing progress.


Academic Performance Metrics

We believe these metrics are some of the most important indicators of academic performance. We are already top 25 in some, close on others, and have some ways to go on a few. If you want to explore these metrics further, review the list of the top 50 public universities for each metric and see the data sources we are using,  please visit here. These metrics had to meet two criteria: they need to be a meaningful indicator of academic performance and there needs to be a national database available to compare ourselves.

Graduation Rate

This is probably the simplest and most obvious measure of student success. Students who don’t graduate experience a great deal of the costs but few of the benefits of higher education.


Students Participating in High-Impact Educational Practices

Research has shown that certain activities (e.g. internships and research) make a big difference in student success post-graduation.

  • 2024 RANK: 42 • Total: 75%
  • 2023 RANK: 21 • TOTAL: 75%
  • 2022 RANK: 36 • TOTAL: 75%

Graduation Rate for Pell Grant Students

Captures our ability to help students who come from families with limited means to experience the economic opportunities available to college graduates.


Best Value

Measures the quality of a UNH education relative to its cost.

  • 2024 RANK: 7
  • 2023 RANK: 9
  • 2022 RANK: 10

Percentage Loan Repayment

Captures our graduates’ ability to repay their loans, which is an indirect measure of their career preparation and success.

  • 2022 RANK: 35 • PAID ON TIME: 55.8% (2023 TBA)

Ratio of Administrative to Instructional Expenses and Academic Support

Addresses how efficiently we perform administrative work at UNH.

  • 2024 RANK: 191 • Ratio: 21.2%
  • 2023 RANK: 100 • RATIO: 17.5%
  • 2022 RANK: 114 • RATIO: 17.4%


Assesses our education, research and practices in supporting environmental, fiscal and social responsibility.
(UNH continues to have the highest rating for sustainability, STARS Platinum. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.)

  • 2024 Rank: 5
  • 2023 RANK: 4
  • 2022 RANK: 4

Graduation Rate Performance

Compares the predicted graduation rate of a class when it enters college with its actual graduation rate. This new metric was added in 2022.

  • 2024 RANK: 26 • Total: 113.9%
  • 2023 RANK: 22 • TOTAL: 114.8%
  • 2022 RANK: 19 • TOTAL: 114.9%

Research Funding Per Faculty Member

An assessment of the research productivity of our faculty.

  • 2022 RANK: 49 • TOTAL: $270,986 (Released every 3 years)
  • 2020 RANK: 55 • TOTAL: $246,931

Four Strategic Priorities

Drawing on input from thousands of UNH community members, each of the four priorities includes new and existing initiatives and metrics that will direct and measure progress in these important areas. The following list of initiatives is not exhaustive. Rather, it brings attention to some of the leading efforts we are driving  to move these strategic priorities forward.

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Enhance Student Success & Well-Being

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Expand Academic & Research Excellence

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Embrace New Hampshire

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Financial Strength

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Enhance Student Success and Well-Being


UNH is committed to student well-being and creating a community in which all members can be successful, reach their full potential and feel safe, valued and included. We will provide students with skills and support to succeed and thrive now and in the future, both at UNH and beyond. We see our students as whole individuals – that their health and well-being impact their academic and personal success and capacity for well-being – and strive to ensure our students are engaged, productive and thriving campus community members.


We have instituted a number of efforts to improve undergraduate student retention, with a particular emphasis on the first two years, including: enhanced orientation and arrival programs; expanded student early warning systems; expanded professional advising, faculty mentoring and first-year seminars across all colleges; expanded residence life programming for all first- and second-year students; and the Changemaker Fellowship, which engages high school seniors as soon as they are accepted and engages them for four years. The goal is to increase retention to above 90% across all demographic groups.

The Faculty Senate has committed to a re-envisioning of the Discovery Program, with changes that include diversity, equity and inclusion, and will provide more flexibility to students. This work begins in the Fall of 2023.

Faculty development is being integrated across the areas of teaching, research and community engagement, creating deeper connections between learning science, teaching practice and professional development. In 2022, 722 faculty participants registered for programming through the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching and Learning. UNH has joined the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, which provides all faculty access to state-of-the-art, research-based teaching practices, with both online and in-person opportunities. The on-campus living requirement has updated the curriculum for first- and second-year undergraduates.

UNH created the Health and Well-Being Committee to assist the university in successfully embedding well-being into our campus culture, prioritizing compassion, health & well-being, sustainability, social justice and equity and inclusion, not only as values but as a part of the mission for all members of the UNH community.

In addition, the How Are You - Really? mental health promotion campaign will expand the UNH community’s understanding of mental health and well-being and empower students to actively care for themselves and utilize resources as needed.  Several listening groups with UNH students, faculty and staff were held to help develop resources to support student well-being.

New programs were created to strengthen our ability to work with students experiencing housing, food and/or financial insecurity and to ensure that all students have access to food and housing. The programs include the Swipe It Forward program and Cats' Cupboard, UNH’s food pantry. The Inn Between Fund helps students facing homelessness. The Student Emergency Financial Assistance Fund continues to help students experiencing short-term financial needs. 

We continue to offer high-impact learning experiences through many opportunities such as internships, research, study abroad or away and community engagement. We have hired an Associate Vice Provost for Career and Professional Success and High Impact Practices to support colleges and other units in scaling effective opportunities. The goal is not only for every learner to have at least one engaged scholarship or internship opportunity, but also to use learning assessments to continually improve the quality of the experiences and to help students articulate the learning from these experiences. 

A new reporting system, NAVEX Ethics Point, was implemented in spring 2021. The new system has streamlined the reporting process to make it a more secure, reliable and comprehensive reporting experience. Ethics Point can be used for reports of discriminatory harassment, bias, hate, bullying, sexual violence, sexual harassment and interpersonal violence and retaliation, among other things. Ethics Point also streamlines the management processes for a more effective and efficient way to analyze data and respond consistently to reports. 

Ethics Point provides an automated “Incident Report Form (IRF)” allowing for a one-stop reporting tool and management system to reduce confusion of where to report. It provides a more efficient way to collect tailored data and pertinent information, including information needed to meet state and federal regulations as well as the internal needs of UNH. The IRF allows for reporting parties to easily upload documents, text messages, pictures, videos and other documents. Links to the IRF can be found on many UNH websites, including the Civil Rights and Equity Office website.  

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Expand Academic and Research Excellence


UNH will attract increasingly strong and diverse students, faculty and staff from across the country and abroad. The university will be globally recognized as a leader in teaching, research, engagement and innovation. Every UNH student will have the opportunity to participate in high-caliber experiential learning. UNH graduates will be empowered to become leaders in their chosen vocations


In March 2023, the university officially announced the creation of the Hamel Honors and Scholars College, set to open in fall of 2024. The college will significantly expand in-class and extracurricular opportunities for honors students and Hamel Scholars and create a dedicated living-learning community for high-achieving students inside a renovated Huddleston Hall and in select residence hall space. It will serve as a new differentiator for the university, providing high-achieving students an enriched academic experience in a significant revision and expansion of the current honors program, emphasizing connections between academic and experiential learning, enabling students to create individualized honors experiences and offering greater opportunities to work with faculty mentors from all UNH colleges.

The university will engage across communities, disciplines and partners to identify needs and inform investments in research capacity and graduate programming. We will promote involvement of UNH experts in local, regional and national conversations. We will continue to invest in initiatives like EPSCoR, the Collaborative Research Excellence program (CORE) and UNHI Innovation Fund that drive societal and economic impact through research and partnerships.

UNH is investing in educational and training programs that support learning and professional development for traditional and non-traditional students and is creating pathways so that all qualified New Hampshire students have the opportunity to earn a UNH degree. We have successfully piloted microcredentials for workforce readiness skills through a collaboration with work study supervisors, Career and Professional Success (CaPS) and Career Advancement and Lifelong Learning Institute (CALLI) in spring of 2023, and we plan to expand the pilot through the upcoming academic year.

We have continued our success in growing new MS and certificate programs that meet specific needs in the higher education marketplace, including key programs at the College of Professional Studies, Paul College and the College of Health and Human Services.  This effort has been growing tuition revenue by more than 20% per year over the last several years.

UNH prioritizes academic and research investments that map to our commitment to sustainability. Our students participate in community engaged projects that provide the opportunity for development of holistic, context-sensitive solutions that address local and global challenges. In fall 2021, UNH renewed its STARS platinum rating — the highest possible under the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)’s rating system. The university is rated fourth for sustainability among US public universities. In fall 2022, the university celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Sustainability Institute, the oldest endowed, university-wide sustainability program in US higher education. Upcoming changes to Sustainability Institute/Carsey School will enhance our efforts in this area where we are already successful. 

Our Discovery Program is being expanded to include requirements that emphasize various aspects of diversity, equity, access and inclusion that will help prepare students for success in an increasingly diverse and global society. We will continue to grow co-curricular programming through the Civic Discourse Lab, the Beauregard Center, Student Accessibility Services, the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity and other offices and institutes. Examples of current educational opportunities include Accessible UNH, Safe Zones and the Social Justice Education Program. In summer 2022, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was created to better align the priorities and services of the Civil Rights and Equity Office and the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity in response to general community needs. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion published its first annual report of UNH’s efforts to support diversity, equity, access and inclusion in fall 2022 and will continue providing annual updates to ensure transparency and accountability in these areas.

We have developed a new web-based module on research climate and culture as part of our responsible conduct of research training program and have implemented a new research safety training program that addresses interpersonal violence. Our innovation program attracts and supports underrepresented entrepreneurs in seeking small business research and development grants. We support the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space in conducting world-class research that effectively incorporates environmental justice and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion.

We have created the Postdoctoral Diversity and Innovation Scholars Program. Thus far, the program has yielded nine graduated scholars, eight (89%) of whom have been hired in tenure track positions (five at UNH). We currently have four scholars in their second and third year. In fall 2023, we will welcome our fifth cohort of five scholars. This program is designed to create a diverse pool of trained faculty candidates as part of our community. To help enroll a diverse undergraduate student body, UNH has commitments for $2 million dollars of endowed scholarship to attract outstanding undergraduate students. Starting in the Fall 2021 admissions cycle, we launched two new scholarship opportunities for entering first-year students.

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Embrace New Hampshire


UNH will work hard to make everyone in New Hampshire incredibly proud of their flagship public university. Students will grow up here wanting to come to UNH, and it will be the first choice for the best and brightest students from New Hampshire and around the world. UNH will build collaborations that support New Hampshire’s economy and quality of life, sustainability and resilience and will be a trusted, valuable and consistent partner.


Created in 2019, the university’s New Hampshire Business Advisory Council is helping UNH leaders understand the challenges faced by NH businesses and connecting them with UNH resources and talent, including encouraging them to hire our students for jobs and internships. President Dean has also joined the board of the NH Business and Industry Association. In fall 2022, UNH leaders embarked on a two-day tour of the state to meet with business and local leaders, community organizations and residents to discuss how our partnerships are supporting New Hampshire's quality of life, and to gather ideas for deepening our efforts to share UNH talent, expertise and resources across the state. A second tour of Manchester took place in May 2023.

We recently revised our website to be more accessible to business and industry, and we have implemented a new strategy for managing engagement with our top New Hampshire partner companies. The Diversity and Inclusion Employer Champion Program, offered through Career and Professional Success (CaPS), recognizes employers who demonstrate devotion to social justice and equality through tangible practices.

UNH is increasingly the top choice for talented New Hampshire high school students who are committed to serving their communities, thanks to two unique opportunities: The Hamel Scholars Program is UNH’s most prestigious scholarship award, awarding up to $10,000 a year. More than 200 Hamel Scholars have enrolled at UNH since it was launched in 2007. UNH introduced the Small Family Community Fellowship in 2021 to provide opportunities for UNH students to "Embrace NH" by applying what they learn in the classroom to real-world needs at the local level, through paid positions at New Hampshire businesses and community organizations. Also in 2021, UNH Manchester was awarded a $3.5 million federal grant to develop a program to encourage New Hampshire middle and high schoolers to pursue STEM education. UNH has also continued to expand access and affordability to New Hampshire students through the Granite Guarantee, which provides free in-state tuition to students who qualify for Pell grants. Since 2017, more than 2,000 students have enrolled at UNH through the program. Finally, for the fourth consecutive year, in-state tuition has been frozen for the 2022-23 academic year.

We are building and strengthening partnerships with state agencies with the goal of creating economic and social impact. With our state and local partners, we focus on workforce development strategies and business and environmental resiliency. UNH supports intentional efforts to connect knowledge generated through our institution directly to the public in ways that collaboratively address social issues and community needs and concerns.

Following an assessment of our outreach programs and the most critical needs facing New Hampshire, we are focusing on four priorities for the state: developing the state’s highly skilled workforce, advancing K12 education, improving health care access and affordability and supporting a sustainable, clean environment and energy. Among these initiatives is the Health Sciences Simulation Center, a $9 million state-of-the art facility opened in November 2021 with major funding from the state of New Hampshire. The center will double the number of UNH graduates in nursing and clinical disciplines. UNH continues to address New Hampshire’s challenges through education and training, research and community partnership.

Following a university-wide survey and input from hundreds of students, staff, faculty and alumni, UNH announced its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Initiatives in 2020. Its overarching goal is to make UNH standout for advancing DEI at every level of our institution and supporting DEI initiatives across New Hampshire. The university will include DEI in its research, scholarship and engagement activities, and will engage our entire community in DEI learning experiences. A new, comprehensive website for Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion was launched in spring 2022.

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Build Financial Strength


UNH will be a national leader in long-term cost management, sustainable investing and aligning its budget and resources with its strategic priorities. UNH will become more accessible and affordable for students by diversifying revenue sources and managing resource use and expenses. UNH will meet the full range of student needs by providing world-class faculty, facilities and organization.


In partnership with the University System of New Hampshire, we will integrate modern technology and advanced automation and redesign business processes to deliver better and more cost-effective support to administrative, academic and research activities. We believe these investments will improve our daily financial operations and business activities and bring near real-time data to enable responsive planning, budgeting and reporting on all financial results.

UNH's merger with Granite State College in 2023 has enabled the institution to cater to a larger population of non-traditional and online students, resulting in operational efficiency, leveraging of institutional strengths and revenue growth. As a result, UNH anticipates further expansion of its professional masters and certificate programs.

To address declining operational budgets and the increasing demand for workforce-responsive offerings, UNH will expand its non-credit programs. These programs will provide the ability to partner quickly with academic departments to develop responsive programs that meet workforce needs. UNH aims to increase tuition revenue in both credit and non-credit enrollments by:

  • Supporting workforce development needs through a range of credit and non-credit credentials.
  • Increasing graduate enrollment in credit courses by offering micro-credentials that validate valuable skills and competencies for existing professionals.
  • Providing access to non-matriculated students to support professional development and enhance opportunities for further certificate or degree credentials.
  • Increasing non-credit professional development courses that align with high-demand workforce needs.

In FY 21, UNH offered the COVID Early Retirement Program (CERP) to all faculty and staff employees in collaboration with the USNH Board of Trustees, resulting in significant utilization by members. Furthermore, Huron Consulting aided in identifying cost savings in various functional and operational areas across the university, which have resulted in savings worth tens of millions of dollars. With continued innovative financial management, UNH can invest in strategic priorities and foster a sustainable economic future.

UNH has secured more than $250 million in campaign commitments, with the support of the UNH Foundation Board of Directors and other key stakeholders, toward the university's strategic plan. UNH will invest in advancement staffing and infrastructure to drive the university's ambitious campaign objectives of raising $400M, with clear ROI.

Research and development activities are vital to UNH, providing undergraduate and graduate student research experiences, improving educational programming, driving outreach and engagement activities and funding infrastructure improvements. UNH was recognized as an R1 institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education in 2019, the highest possible category for research universities. Since then, UNH R&D activity has continued to expand rapidly, with research expenditures approaching $200 million in FY22, a 33% increase in just four years. To continue this expansion, UNH will invest in expertise and resources that increase competitiveness of awards/contract proposals, support efficiency and engage UNH with industry and other institutions of higher education. 

As part of renewing UNH's STARS Platinum rating, a Zero Waste Plan is in development to assess the campus-wide policies, infrastructure and logistical capacity for establishing a materials management system that achieves zero waste. This plan will evaluate the necessary resources and timeframe to achieve the goal and provide a roadmap for implementation.

UNH State of the University 2023

President Dean delivers his State of the University Address and an update on The Future of UNH strategic plan on Feb. 14, 2023.


Future of UNH: Four Strategic Priorities

President Dean presented “The Future of UNH” to the UNH community on Jan. 24, 2019. Watch the video and learn how to get involved.


How Can You Help?

Do you have an idea to help UNH achieve new heights and reach our aspirations ? Please share your feedback. Contact the President's Office at