About the Proposed USNH/CCSNH Merger

This page is intended to share information, as it becomes available, regarding the proposed merger of the University System and the Community College System of New Hampshire. The page will be updated periodically as events warrant.

The USNH Board of Trustees supports the idea of merging the state’s public higher education systems. The Board believes this to be the optimal time to merge USNH and CCSNH, maximizing our ability to achieve the current missions of both systems, including the provision of affordable access to high-quality education for our citizens. The purpose of this site, however, is to share accurate information about the proposal and the process for the benefit of students, faculty, staff and others who would like to learn more.

Background

In 2019, Governor Sununu asked the leadership of USNH and CCSNH to meet to discuss the possibility of combining the institutions. While initial meetings did not result in formal plans to merge the systems, they did result in the formulation of a synergies group that has been working since that time to identify areas of potential collaboration.

In February 2021, the Governor announced his plan to formally merge the system boards later this year, followed by a formal unification of the systems into the NH College and University System. This proposal was included in the Governor’s biennial budget proposal to the legislature. The Governor’s intent is that the CCSNH/USNH Boards merge into one consisting of 23 members as of July 1, 2021. Additionally, the Governor’s proposed budget combines the state support for both public higher education systems into one line item beginning July 1, 2022.

The Board believes that joining USNH with the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) is the best possible approach to securing, for the long term, the state’s capacity to offer all its residents affordable, accessible, and diverse pathways to a high quality education.
----USNH BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Read the USNH Board of Trustees Letter to Governor Sununu

Legislative Process

In March the House Finance and Education Committees devoted significant time to studying the proposal. They met repeatedly with University and Community College Systems’ leadership and with others having relevant expertise. Recordings of those meetings are available below and provide significantly more detail on the issues at hand.

In early April, the full House of Representatives approved a budget that calls for the creation of a “higher education merger assessment commission.” This group, comprised of USNH, CCSNH, and gubernatorial appointments, would be charged with the study of the proposed merger and to make recommendations to the legislature by January 1, 2022.

The budget is now under consideration by the state Senate Finance Committee, which will hold additional hearings on this issue.  The Senate is expected to pass their version of the budget by early June. At that time, the House and Senate will meet to resolve differences in their proposals and will send a final budget to the Governor for his signature or veto.

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Legislative Hearing Videos

Link to Finance Division II - March 12, 2021

Fast forward to 37:20 to hear USNH Board Chair Joseph G. Morone cover the current higher ed challenges facing USNH and to 1:00:50 to hear USNH Chief Administrative Office and Vice Chancellor for Financial Affairs and Treasurer Catherine Provencher discuss the actions USNH has or will take to address these challenges.

Link to House Education Subcommittee - March 12, 2021

Beginning at the 4-minute mark, hear the discussion led by former USNH Chancellor and NH education advocate Dr. Ed MacKay as he reviews how efficient and administratively lean USNH and CCSNH have become, how key events have brought NH to the point where a merger is a critical consideration, and what issues need to be raised and addressed for this to be successful.