Last spring, more than 200 faculty members showed up for a "no confidence" vote in President Mark Huddleston. Sixty-three percent of them voted "no confidence" and the UNH chapter of the AAUP officially showed a lack of support in the university's president.
At the time, we wrote that the vote didn't make sense. It effectively did nothing and less than half the faculty took part in the vote. Besides, as we wrote, based on his actions with professors and the state legislature, there was reason to be confident in his work.
This week, Huddleston again showed why we should have confidence him.
Hours after UNH Dining announced it would stop the sale of energy drinks in its stores, Huddleston halted the decision by delaying it in a statement.
On Thursday, he officially killed the Dining's odd rule, announcing UNH would continue to sell energy drinks.
He did it, in part, because he listened to students.
"I do not now see a clear rationale for eliminating an option that our students say they want," Huddleston said.
Since he took over, Huddleston has demonstrated a willingness to listen to students – a willingness not always seen in administrators.
We hope students understand what he's done without taking it for granted.
Within the last year, Huddleston worked hard toward two goals intended to benefit students and the university.
First, Huddleston spent much of his spring and summer with state legislatures, explaining to them the need of a sufficient University Systems of New Hampshire budget.
Even after one-on-one meetings and a speech to the entire assembly, legislatures slashed 45 percent of the budget, and he's worked to find ways to keep students from absorbing the majority of that budget blow.
Second, he helped negotiate a fair contract with the AAUP, the same group that voted "no confidence" in him, after several months of back-and-forth negotiations.
He's also instilled a freeze on faculty and administrative salaries – including his own.
We'll be the first to admit that we don't and won't always agree with everything he's done (see Business School, Peter T. Paul).
But he understands what students care about. And he listens to them.
That was on display this week – thankfully.