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OUR TURN

NHTI name change reflects college's role

After 42 years of calling itself New Hampshire Technical Institute - often affectionately dubbed 'The Tech,' - and after recent legislation established the Community College System of New Hampshire, the college asked itself if the time had come to change the name to reflect the broader mission we now serve.

When NHTI first opened its doors in 1965, it had one classroom building and one residence hall, with a statewide mission to educate students in the first two years of engineering technologies, and with a transfer option at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Through the decades, the college continued building its engineering technology programs, added programs in health, business, computer, education, and justice/ legal studies, all leading to transfer or workforce or both. Many of these programs continue to be highly technical; however, the programs that have grown the most are in Liberal Arts and General Studies. The new Visual Arts program, for instance, has swelled in one year to 35 student majors and 400 students taking arts courses.

In short, the college is an affordable choice for students of all ages to join an exceptional community of learners for transfer, for joining the workforce, and for enrichment.

With this expanded mission, NHTI conducted an extensive project, titled, 'What's in a Name?' We reached out to our many constituents, surveying over 8,000 alumni by postcard, set up a website response board, surveyed the campus, interviewed the leadership team, gathered input from the Advisory Board, conducted community focus groups, consulted a marketing company, and surveyed high school students. The response, as expected, varied widely, but with a clear division among those who wanted to retain the name and those who wanted to change it. After many rounds of examination, the Advisory Board voted unanimously to recommend that NHTI retain its name, with the emphasis to be on the acronym; the leadership agreed.

For the other community colleges in the system, the choice was clear: being called the NH Community Technical College at (name the town) was not a good option. The time was right for a change. For NHTI the choice was problematic. We have always served a statewide resident population, have maintained a constant name for over 40 years, have offered transferable programs, and have invested a great deal of effort for the past six years to brand the college as NHTI, Concord's Community College. Though larger and more expansive than ever, NHTI has always operated as a community college. We concluded that it would be unsound to abandon the name that has so successfully served this wonderful college, known for its excellence, a name, in fact, that our future students find more appealing than the obvious alternative of Concord Community College.

So, to answer the Monitor's editorial question 'What's in a Name?' (Friday, February 01, 2008) we can attest that, in the case of your local community college, there is a tapestry of richness in its name: generations of tradition, countless stories of professional and personal success, a history of innovation and growth, many fond memories of those who came before us and promising futures for those who follow.

NHTI is, and always has been, Concord's Community College, an exceptional community of learners.

(Richard M. Heath, NHTI is the Advisory Board Chair, class of 1969. Lynn Kilchenstein is NHTI's president)

By RICHARD M. HEATH and LYNN KILCHENSTEIN

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