2017: Our Best Year Yet
Posted on December 27, 2017
2017 was an incredible year at SNHU. Maybe our best yet. I am grateful for many things, but as we head into the holiday season, I wanted to take a few minutes to share some highlights from the year.
1. Our Students
Always, always, we start with our students. As we say in our Mission Statement, our success is measured by our students’ success. In 2017, more than 16,000 students earned their degree from SNHU, many of whom are military-affiliated, working parents, traditional-age learners, and first-generation college students. I always say a good day is when I get to interact with students on campus, or on the road. Here are some of my favorite student stories of the year:
- Our oldest graduate, 94-year-old Amy Craton, completed her bachelor’s degree with a 4.0 GPA and is now going on to get her master’s degree.
- Melissa Gillespie, a military spouse and mother of three, earned her nursing degree online after 17-years of constant relocation.
- FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele became the first MLS player to earn a degree from SNHU, as part of a partnership between the League and the University that helps professional athletes earn their degrees while juggling rigorous training and travel schedules.
- Megan Lewis-Taylor, a Coast Guard veteran who was one of the first responders to the Boston Marathon bombing and Hurricane Sandy, came to SNHU when Daniel Webster College closed. Now, Megan has found a home at SNHU on the field hockey team and at our new College of Engineering, Technology, and Aeronautics where she is pursuing a dual degree in mechanical and aeronautical engineering.
2. Giving Back to Our Community
Giving back is deeply ingrained in our culture at SNHU. This year, we donated to more than 20 local nonprofit organizations, including Families in Transition, City Year New Hampshire, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
We also celebrated our 2nd annual Global Days of Service, a month-long community service event, where alumni, students, faculty, and staff come together across the globe to strengthen our communities. In 2017, more than 800 SNHU community members volunteered 4,592 hours in New Hampshire and around the world to help out local schools, clean up our state parks, and tend to gardens for our local food bank. Our students volunteered an additional 16,000 hours in the greater Manchester community and across the country.
Together with our great partners, the Boston Celtics and the New England Patriots, we donated four new technology labs to local elementary and middle schools to help students gain access to the technology they need to be successful. And through our partnership with Major League Soccer, we unveiled three new soccer pitches around the country for communities in need. I am most looking forward to opening a mini-pitch right here in Manchester in 2018.
3. Our Employees
This year, SNHU was recognized as a Great College to Work For by The Chronicle of Higher Education for the tenth consecutive year. I was most inspired by the feedback our staff and faculty provided in the survey; based on the top three responses, our employees feel supported by their colleagues and embraced for who they are as individuals, understand how their job contributes to the University’s mission, and believe SNHU actively contributes to the community in a positive way. I’m particularly proud of these responses, all focused on inclusion, mission, and service; our sense of community and culture is unlike any other in higher ed.
Each year, our staff and faculty also come together to host the SNHU United Way Campaign. This year, we raised more than $100,000 for the Granite State United Way. It gives me a great sense of pride to work with all of you to help students succeed; together, we are helping to make a difference in the lives of thousands of students and, in turn, the lives of their families and their communities.
4. Innovation and Excellence
For the third consecutive year, SNHU was named the #1 Most Innovative University in the north by U.S. News & World Report and named one of the nation’s top 12 Most Innovative Colleges for Adult Learners by Washington Monthly. The University was also recognized as a 2017 digital learning innovator by the Online Learning Consortium for advancing undergraduate student success through the adoption of digital courseware. Thank you to the entire SNHU community for continuing to challenge the status quo to help more students achieve their dreams of earning a college degree.
5. Growing STEM
In 2017, SNHU made great strides in expanding our commitment to STEM. We launched our new College of Engineering, Technology, and Aeronautics (CETA), with the goal of expanding access to STEM education for underrepresented populations in higher education. More than 175 students are currently enrolled, and plans for a new CETA facility are already underway. Our team has also been working hard to expand and improve our online STEM programs, which currently serve more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
This year, our students also participated in numerous events that encourage women and young girls to pursue STEM fields; a group of our online students attended the Grace Hopper Celebration, an annual conference that celebrates women in technology, and students hosted the “I Hate Math” Conference on campus, which is an event designed to inspire, encourage, and challenge girls to achieve their academic and personal goals.
6. Supporting Military Students
SNHU has a long history of working with service members and veterans to help them continue their education dating as far back as World War II. This year, we doubled down on that effort once again by expanding our military discounts to include all members of the U.S. Reserve and National Guard. Now with more than 15,000 military-affiliated students and a dedicated team of military advisors, SNHU continues to work with military organizations to help our servicemen and women achieve their educational goals and help them transition to civilian life.
This year we partnered with Operation Homefront again to host four “Homefront Celebrations” to honor military spouses and awarded four full-tuition scholarships to spouses wishing to continue their education. We also hosted a hiring fair for veterans with the Boston Celtics, donated more than $190,000 to the USO in partnership with MLS as part of Operation: Back of the Net, and hosted the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall on our campus this October.
7. Expanding Access Across the World
One of the initiatives in 2017 of which I am most proud is our expanded work with refugees at home and abroad. We’ve been in the Kiziba Refugee Camp since 2013 helping Congolese refugees earn their college degrees. Now, with $10m of funding secured this year, we plan to expand the work we are doing in Rwanda to four other locations, phase one of a more ambitious multi-year goal of educating tens of thousands of refugees worldwide. The need is enormous, and we’re excited to continue this important work.
We also recently opened a new center in our own backyard to help local immigrant and refugee populations gain access to education and support services in the greater Manchester area. Programming at the SNHU Center for New Americans at YWCA NH will begin in early 2018, and our hope is that it will give new Americans the tools to thrive in the Granite State.
8. Penmen Athletics
We’ve had another great year for athletics; our men’s tennis and women’s soccer teams both conquered the Northeast-10 Championships, five of our teams participated in the NCAA Tournaments, 4 student-athletes were named All-Americans, and 4 players and 3 coaches were honored as NE10 Players/Coaches of the Year.
The Penmen also participated in numerous community service endeavors this year, including a special project led by our soccer teams who stuffed more than 250 “Joy Jars” with MLS star Kelyn Rowe to deliver to pediatric cancer patients in the region. Our student-athletes truly do great work every day, on and off the field, and I could not be more proud.
9. Cutting Ribbons On-Campus
Here at SNHU, we have been committed to reinvesting in our campus to provide a first-class academic experience for students. Over the past year, we’ve opened three new buildings, including a facility that houses our new College of Engineering, Technology, and Aeronautics (CETA); campus’ newest residence hall, Monadnock Hall; and the Gustafson Center, which houses our admission, career, and alumni offices, designed to get students thinking about life after college from their very first encounter at SNHU. This coming spring, we’ll also be unveiling our new athletics complex, Penmen Stadium, and I hope to see you all there, cheering on the Penmen!
10. The SNHU Community
I have a lot for which to be grateful, but getting to do this work with a talented and fun group of colleagues is right at the top of my list. If you haven’t seen our new commercial, you might take a look. It’s a nice reminder of how lucky we are to do what we do each day. Thank you for all you do for our students.