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Merrill, McKernan outline accomplishments, goals

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 02:09

Before the school year even started, Student Body President Bryan Merrill and Student Body Vice President William McKernan had already accomplished a lot for the university. The pair spent their summer in Durham working on many issues to improve UNH, and they are continuing with this work throughout this semester and next. The New Hampshire sat down with McKernan and Merrill in order to catch up with what UNH’s student-elected officials were up to over the summer months.

TNH: You two spent your whole summer here. What were your daily tasks like?

Bryan Merrill: It was very much a whirlwind, but constants would be emails, meetings and calls or conference calls.Just every single day, various meetings with administrators, auxiliary and community members as well. And then there were some other constants in terms of, in an effort to improve town relations; I’d attend town council meetings, which are the first and third Monday of the month.

And to kind of augment the whirlwind, Will and I were also doing additional work. So I was doing investment research up at the [UNH] Foundation.

William McKernan: I was a summer RA, a work study student at the Parent’s Association, a work study student at the Alumni Association and was at one point working a fourth job, which was my academic year job. They asked me to start early.

But also day-to-day, social media. We set up the UNH student body president Facebook page, which everybody should follow, and the UNH student body president Twitter, which is @UNH_SBP

TNH: What are some of the things you two accomplished this summer?

BM: So, with the restoration of funding initiative, obviously it wasn’t done alone, with the help of our peers and a lot of other stakeholders, but with the help of a lot of collected effort $153 million over the biennium.

It was a significant increase and we’re hoping to continue that and continue increasing that amount because inflation adjusted, it’s a huge step forward and we’re very appreciative and everyone involved is very appreciative because as a result we got the two-year, in-state tuition freeze.

Honestly, that in and of itself makes the summer worth it. We’re still the lowest per capita state appropriation in the nation. We’ve significantly increased, but we’re still the lowest. So there’s still work to be done.

TNH: What are you most proud of out of everything you’ve done this summer?

WM: I think that we set a new standard, to be honest. Three direct communications? Yeah, three direct communications, restoration of funding … Something that we found out that previous student body presidents and vice presidents hadn’t done was walking around and meeting with all the college deans. And we were rather surprised when we were getting that feedback from some of the people around their department.

Our university is not small and so we got a significant chunk done, but we still have some more to go and a lot of projects to follow up on.

BM: A lot of it was establishing frameworks, and not to bleed into your next question of what do we intend to do, but another couple of these huge projects and they really are huge in terms of an alumni-backed student loan and finance/refinancing initiative as an alternative investment vehicle up at the [UNH] Foundation.

As a result of some work I had done last year as well as some work with the [UNH] Foundation, it is interesting how they kind of mix together in terms of leveraging private support and the private sector to increase revenue streams because … it was public support given the environment that we’re in politically is not sufficient.

So we’ve really come up with these massive ideas that will act to leverage that and right now Dean Innis is going to get back to us on how some … specific donors to get the start-up capital and hopefully that’ll snowball.

WM: Oh, the idea that Bryan and I had that we inherited from [Dylan] Palmer, the previous student body president, was almost a sponsorship program.

So if you look around [at other schools], sometimes companies will sponsor outstanding students and they’ll pay for all, or a chunk of, their education costs and Dylan had the idea to institute that at UNH. And so Dylan kind of got the treadmill running, if you will, and Bryan and I were kind of able to step on and start going with it. And so we have designed a six-page program that we’re still just kind of flushing out.

BM: We also have just been going around doing little stuff, risk mitigation, looking at the SRRR and some legal things, especially pertaining to … penalties regarding people who commit acts of rape. They’re relatively lenient.

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