President James W. “Jim” Dean Jr. announced today that he will retire as president of the University of New Hampshire on June 30, 2024. At that time, Dean will have served six years as president of the state’s flagship public research university and more than two years as interim chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire.
“Serving as president of this university has been a great honor and the highlight of my 40-year academic career,” said Dean. “Together we have strengthened UNH’s position as a leading public research university and helped to prepare thousands of people for successful lives and careers. UNH is positioned for a bright future. It is also poised for new leadership and the time is right for me to pass the baton.”
During Dean’s tenure, UNH has strived to be among the nation’s top 25 public universities in the most important measures of academic performance. As part of his “Future of UNH” initiative, the university has improved graduation rates, focused on providing high-impact educational opportunities to more students and repeatedly been named a top 10 value school by U.S. News & World Report.
“Serving as president of this university has been a great honor and the highlight of my 40-year academic career. Together we have strengthened UNH’s position as a leading public research university and helped to prepare thousands of people for successful lives and careers.”
Over this time, UNH has also furthered its status as a top-tier research university, continually increasing annual competitive research expenditures and securing multiple record-setting research contracts from key federal funding agencies, including NASA, NOAA and the National Science Foundation, among others.
This research expertise was especially evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Dean’s leadership, UNH marshaled one of the most effective higher-education responses to the virus by setting up a state-of-the-art testing lab on its Durham campus, using testing and other mitigation methods to slow campus transmission rates to below state and national levels and providing vital support to the state’s public health infrastructure throughout the pandemic.
As part of his “Embrace New Hampshire” initiative, Dean encouraged the university to focus on critical challenges facing the Granite state, such as health care, energy and education. He worked to reinvigorate the university’s connection with state government and build stronger relationships in the business community to help grow the state’s workforce. Through his business advisory council and role on the executive board of the Business and Industry Association, he fostered collaborations to inform UNH’s efforts to meet the research and workforce needs of many state employers.
“Jim has devoted his career to public higher education,” said Alex Walker, chair of the University System Board of Trustees. “His commitment to students, impactful research and the unique role public universities should play in their communities have informed his leadership and have helped to further UNH’s position as a leading public university. The university system community is grateful for Jim’s cooperative and steadfast leadership during his tenure in two incredibly demanding roles and we wish him and his wife Jan many years of happy, well-earned retirement with their family.”
“Throughout our time here, Jan and I have been lucky to experience so much of what makes UNH and this state special,” said Dean. “We have seen how devoted and resourceful people can do amazing things together and we have been consistently touched by the spirit of community that inspires all of us to take care of one another.”
During her time as the university’s first lady, Jan Dean has been a staple in the community, including serving as a charter member of the university’s Student Basic Needs Initiative which assists students in addressing emergencies or unexpected challenges allowing them to focus on their education and goals. Jan also serves as president of the Oyster River Womenade and is compiling a history of the President’s Residence and the families that have occupied the home since its construction in 1905.
President Dean’s retirement will conclude a 40-year academic career, of which more than 25 years have been spent in leadership roles. Before becoming president of UNH in 2018, Dean, who is 67, served as executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Before that, he was dean of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School where he was a professor of organizational behavior. He earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in organizational behavior from Carnegie Mellon University. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from The Catholic University of America.
The board of trustees is discussing the future governance model of the university system, including the continuation of the dual president and chancellor role Dean has filled since March 2022. Those decisions will inform the search process for the university’s next leader and will be announced soon.