Lost and Found: Looking back on the 30th anniversary of the Challenger disaster

January 28, 2016

Andy Merton
From UNH Today, by Tracey Bentley

On this 30th anniversary of the loss of the space shuttle Challenger, UNH Today looks back with professor emeritus of English Andrew Merton.

Back in the winter of 1986, Merton was a faculty member in the UNH department of English, and his son Gabe was a first-grader at a local elementary school.

Merton recalls: “On Jan. 28, K-12 teachers throughout New Hampshire brought TVs into their classrooms to enable their students to watch the Challenger launch. New Hampshire’s Christa McAuliffe was to be the first teacher in space. Then, of course, it all went wrong, and the classroom teachers were left to grapple with how to deal with the tragic developments.”

The events of that day moved Merton to pen a poem called “Lost and Found,” in which Merton, the teacher, celebrates McAuliffe, the teacher.

After nearly three decades, Merton recently published “Lost and Found” in a collection of the same name. Here is the poem.


Lost and Found

for Gabe and in memory of Christa McAuliffe, Jan. 28, 1986

In winter
the big wooden box

in your school cafeteria
fills with boots, sweaters, sweatshirts,

hockey pucks, scarves,
and, on the day

they brought in a TV
so you and your friends

could watch a teacher
leave earth,

one small sky-blue mitten.
—Andrew Merton


(Published by permission)

book coverMerton will read from “Lost and Found” at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. and at the Water Street Bookstore in Exeter Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m.

UNH Research Finds Changing Granite State Population Likely to Have Big Impact on Presidential Primary

January 27, 2016

key findings chart

More than 30 percent of potential voters in the Granite State were either not old enough to vote in 2008 or lived in another state. These younger voters and recent migrants have the potential to change the political landscape of New Hampshire in the coming presidential primary and November election.

The state’s established voters (39 percent), those who have resided in the state since at least 2008, and recent migrants (38 percent) are more likely to identify as Republicans than young voters (33 percent). More young voters also consider themselves to be liberal (35 percent) than either migrants (26 percent) or established voters (23 percent). These findings are based on analysis of demographic, polling and voter registration data. The influence of young voters (129,000 celebrated their 18th birthday between 2008 and 2015) is heightened by the loss of 68,000 older residents from death.

“Young voters and people who have moved into the state in recent years are two powerful demographic forces that are reshaping the New Hampshire electorate,” said co-author Kenneth Johnson, Carsey School senior demographer and professor of sociology at UNH, who wrote the report with UNH Survey Center Director Andy Smith and associate professor of political science Dante Scala. “Only 45 percent of the population residing in New Hampshire was born in the state. In comparison, nationwide 68 percent of the U.S.-born population lives in the same state where they were born. So judging what’s going to happen in the New Hampshire primary based on what’s happened in the past is perilous.”

The report finds that between 2008 and 2015, 197,000 potential voters moved to New Hampshire – including a substantial number from the Boston area. These newcomers, combined with the 129,000 young residents reaching their 18th birthdays, represent a significant change in a state with just over one million potential voters.

“The changing demographic landscape also underscores the need for political pollsters in New Hampshire to carefully assess their sampling methods,” said Smith, who is also an associate professor of political science. “The high percentage of new voters means that pollsters should not rely on lists of previous primary voters to draw samples because they would systematically exclude a high fraction of the electorate, including many young voters who have shown a propensity to support Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.”

“New Hampshire has one of the most mobile populations in the nation,” said Scala. “In addition to these powerful demographic forces of change, mortality has further diminished the older generations of voters long associated with New Hampshire tradition as a bastion of Yankee Republicanism.”

To download a copy of the report, go to https://carsey.unh.edu/publication/nh-electorate.

Anthropologist Meghan Howey Named Next Hayes Chair

January 26, 2016

Meghan Howey

UNH anthropologist Meghan Howey has been named the The James H. Hayes and Claire Short Hayes Professor of the Humanities by the UNH Center for the Humanities. Carrying a five-year term, the Hayes Chair was established by James H. Hayes to be a focal point for research and teaching on New Hampshire’s history, culture and government.

Howey’s research will focus on the Great Bay Estuary in the Gulf of Maine where she will explore the intertwining of natural and social processes in the history of the landscape. She hopes her work will help other scientists understand the social, economic and ideological processes that have led to our current state of potentially catastrophic human impact on the earth.

Read a Q&A with Howey about her Hayes Chair project.

Latest UNH Survey Center Poll Results are Out

January 22, 2016

Sanders Widens NH Lead, Almost Half of Democrats Still Not Decided

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has increased his lead over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Sanders’ popularity among Democratic Primary voters continues to increase and a majority say he has the personal characteristics and qualities that a President should have. Just over half of Democratic Primary voters say they have definitely decided who they will support.

For complete press release and detailed tabular results, please click here.

Trump Still On Top in NH, Big Battle For Second, Most Voters Still Undecided

Donald Trump has maintained his double digit lead in the New Hampshire Primary race while the rest of the field remains tightly packed. However, Trump continues to be the candidate that New Hampshire Republicans say they are least likely to vote for.  Only thirty-one percent of New Hampshire Republican Primary voters say they have firmly decided who they will vote for in the Primary.

For complete press release and detailed tabular results, please click here.

Sanders Better Than Clinton Vs GOP in NH

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders currently has double digit leads over five potential Republican challengers in New Hampshire. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Republican frontrunner Donald Trump but is deadlocked with four other potential challengers. Unsurprisingly, most Granite Staters have not decided who they will vote for in the November general election.

For complete press release and detailed tabular results, please click here.

All findings are based by on the latest CNN/WMUR New Hampshire Primary Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

Getting Used to Old Age and Retirement

January 14, 2016

book cover

UNH Professor Emeritus of English Tom Carnicelli has written a book of poems about his thoughts and feelings during the first few years of retirement. “Old Guy Part One: Getting Used to Old Age and Retirement” doesn’t take itself too seriously, says Carnicelli, though it does have its serious moments. Carnicelli taught English in various colleges for 53 years, 46 of them at the University of New Hampshire. He retired in 2013. He wrote poetry in his own college days and started writing it again after he retired. He tries to make his poems accessible to everyone, not just English majors.

“Old Guy Part One” is published by Piscataqua Press. It is available for purchase locally at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH, and online from major retailers.

COLA Undergrads Receive Study Abroad Scholarships

January 11, 2016
Hannah Medovnikov

Hannah Medovnikov (Photo: Tracey Bentley)

Two College of Liberal Arts students are among four UNH undergraduates who have received the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which supports global internships or study abroad. Eight hundred undergraduates nationwide share in the honor. The Gilman Scholarship program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Zachary Dumont ’17, a political science major from Manchester, New Hampshire, will participate in the UNH-managed program at Chengdu University in China. Dumont wants to develop his Mandarin Chinese language skills and study the nation’s culture and literature in preparation for a career in East Asian relations and policy.

Hannah Medovnikov ’17 will study in Dakar, Senegal. Medovnikov is a studio art major and ceramics artist from Bethany, Connecticut. Through the program Senegal: National Identity and the Arts, she will study ceramics within different artistic traditions and explore how Senagalese art and urban identity has been influenced by colonialism and slavery.

This story was excerpted from a longer article by Laura Perille in UNH Today.

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