UNH Today: Campus Life Articles
Ask him for someone who can talk about his tenure as UNH’s longest-serving president, and Mark Huddleston doesn’t hesitate.“Talk to Bob Bennett,” says Huddleston, who retires in June after 11 years. “He’s one of my favorites.”
As a leader who’s thrived in the dynamic, often rocky, landscape of public higher education, Huddleston could offer any number of impressive references, from captains of industry and noted philanthropists to elected officials and famous alumni.
And UNH has plenty to boast about since he arrived: record enrollments, record philanthropy, new public-private partnerships, rising national rankings and new schools of business, law, marine science and public policy, to name a few. And these came in an era when state support plummeted, high school populations declined, competition increased and the nation suffered through a prolonged recession.
It’s a record that bucks the troubling trends facing higher education across the country.
So, who’s Bob Bennett? And why is he the perfect person to tell you about the retiring UNH president?
“He’s the guy who plows our driveway and takes care of the lawn,” Huddleston says, without a hint of irony. “He’s a UNH alum. He’s worked here forever. He really loves this place, and he works really hard. And, I think, he exemplifies what’s best about UNH and about New Hampshire in general.”
In his plainspoken, insightful way, Huddleston offers Bennett as an apt metaphor not only for UNH but for everything — indeed, everyone — that he has dedicated himself to serving throughout his career in public higher education and public policy. “I’ve spent almost my whole career in public institutions, and I feel like I owe whatever success I’ve had in life to public higher education,” says Huddleston, who worked for most of his pre-UNH career at the University of Delaware, where he taught …