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President Kaplan Responds to Students

Steven Kaplan

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Dear UNH Students:

A number of students, as well as parents, have contacted the University expressing their concerns regarding the recent letter that outlined changes in the housing process for fall 2010.  The letter was sent to inform students that the University has modified its housing selection process for the coming year so that a larger percentage of upperclass students will be living in University housing off campus than in prior years.

I take the concerns being expressed by our students and their parents very seriously and am saddened that the letter that went out has caused so much anguish and confusion.  I deeply apologize for the late notification students received regarding housing for the coming academic year as a result of our ongoing efforts to finalize negotiations for additional student housing options.  I also regret that we did not hold on-campus discussions with students in the fall about this topic.

I have been personally involved during my time at UNH in our efforts to expand our housing options, both on and off campus. In the case of the apartments at Wintergreen of Westville, for example, we have obtained special rates and seen to it that there will be ample furnished units available for our students. For our students who live off campus in University-leased housing, we have invested and will continue to invest significant funding in transportation and safety for all of our students.

I hope the information below will help better clarify the changes and help diminish some of the anxiety that a number of individuals are experiencing.  Moreover, in response to the parents and students who have contacted me and others on campus, my staff and I have examined every option possible to provide additional housing on the Main Campus and we have found some creative solutions.  As a result, this coming year we will be able to offer sophomores, juniors and seniors an equal mix of the 402 spaces in Soundview Residence Hall.  In addition, we are expanding the opportunities for upperclass students to live in University housing off campus.

I need to reiterate, however, that I fully support and stand behind the idea that students in the early stages of their studies at UNH should be housed on campus.  This position is consistent with our long-range plan to nurture their academic and social well-being as they begin their college careers.

What follows are answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the changes being made in the housing selection process:

Why has UNH grown so rapidly in recent years?

During the past six years, UNH has experienced significant student enrollment growth as part of its strategic plan.  As a comprehensive university, UNH needed to reach its present size in order to offer its students a full range of academic programs and services.  Frankly, the model in place six years ago of running the University with four complex and costly colleges with more than 2,000 undergraduates was not sustainable.  The alternative to pursuing a growth strategy would most likely have been to close a significant number of undersubscribed programs in which many of our students are enrolled today.

With this growth, UNH has been able to enhance the vibrancy of student life on campus, add new academic programs, hire additional faculty, substantially expand our need- and merit-based financial aid programs, and make significant physical campus improvements (e.g., Soundview Residence Hall, the Beckerman Center, Bartels Hall expansion, C-Store, etc.).

As a result of UNH’s increasing popularity and success at meeting our strategic goals, we are now working to reduce first-year class sizes beginning with next year’s incoming students.  This effort will help stabilize the demand for University housing in the future.  I cannot emphasize strongly enough how vital the enrollment growth in recent years has been in dramatically improving the University and thus the value of your UNH degree.  Without this growth, UNH would have stagnated and thus declined significantly with time.  Not growing was thus not an option.

Where will rising juniors and seniors be able to live?

Our goal for next year is to offer sophomores, juniors and seniors an equal mix of housing in Soundview Hall.  The Soundview room selection process will be held in late February/early March, in several phases.  Once the Soundview selection process has been completed, current juniors who did not receive a placement in Soundview Hall will have the option of living in University-leased housing off campus (Forest Hills, Savin Court and the Regency) next year depending upon availability. If there are any on-campus apartments available after current sophomores choose housing, the current juniors will be the next to select those apartments, based on availability, in addition to the off-campus apartments. The University also is negotiating to lease a new 14-unit condominium complex located close to the UNH campus, and additional apartments at the Regency.  At the conclusion of room selection, and based on availability, current juniors will then be allowed to choose any apartments not selected during room selection. These apartments most likely will be the University-leased apartments off campus.  The University also has finalized a lease option with the Wintergreen apartments in Westville.

Who will live in Wintergreen apartments?

UNH students also may choose to take advantage of a new lease option the University has negotiated with the Wintergreen apartments located approximately three miles from campus. Although each student’s lease agreement is directly with the apartment complex, UNH provides a free shuttle, and the lease rate for Wintergreen is less than University housing. The Wintergreen apartments are a gated community with private security, a gym and community game room. The apartments are furnished and include all utilities, cable, internet, central a/c, and a washer and dryer. Students living at Wintergreen can receive a free commuter parking sticker and UPass. To learn more about the Wintergreen apartments, visit www.wintergreenofwestville.com.

Will living in the Wintergreen apartments affect my student financial aid?

Living in the Wintergreen apartments will not negatively affect a student’s financial aid. A student’s financial aid, however, will still be based on their family’s demonstrated need as determined by their 2010-11 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the student meeting all necessary requirements. If you have questions regarding UNH’s financial aid policies, please e-mail financialaid@newhaven.edu.

When will students know where they will be living next year?

Students will know their housing assignments as the housing selection process unfolds in several phases between late February and mid-April. As noted above, the Soundview selection process will take place first. We anticipate that we will be able to offer rooms to the majority of upperclass students who want housing on campus and in the off-campus University-leased apartments (Forest Hills, Savin Court and the Regency).  To be eligible for the room selection process, the $250 non-refundable room selection participation fee must be received by the Bursar’s Office no later than February 5, 2010.  This fee will be refunded should we not be able to offer you a bed in University housing.

Are students guaranteed housing for all four years?

Although UNH does not guarantee students housing for all four years, we will be able to accommodate many seniors and are offering additional help locating off-campus housing to students.  This policy is clearly stated in the housing agreement that all students sign.  It also is available online at www.newhaven.edu/student-life/CampusLife_StudentAffairs/residential_life/10624/. If you were a freshman this year and the University received your paperwork by May 1, 2009, UNH did guarantee you a space in University housing for your freshman year only.

If you have any other specific questions regarding the new process, please e-mail 2010Housing@newhaven.edu and a member of the Residential Life staff will address them.  In addition, a housing forum will be held on January 25 at 4 p.m. in Dodds Theatre to answer any questions you may have.

Growth and change are important for any institution to remain competitive.  The University is doing its best to implement the new housing process while taking into consideration as much as possible the needs and expectations of all of our students.  I ask for your understanding, patience and cooperation in making this transition successful.

Sincerely,

Steven H. Kaplan

President

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President Kaplan Responds to Students