In praise of three notable N.H. educators

New Hampshire is lucky to have many distinguished educators who contribute every day to the enrichment of students, from pre-kindergarten through graduate and professional degrees. Three New Hampshire educational leaders of note have come to the public attention recently for various reasons, all of them important, locally and nationally. Thomas C. Galligan is president of Colby-Sawyer College. Before that, he was dean of the University of Tennessee Law School and prior to that a distinguished professor of law, specializing in accident law and maritime liability law. In the past months since the terrible oil well rupture in the Gulf of Mexico, Galligan has been called on by the Congress to testify concerning liability issues. In doing so, he has pointed out how antiquated a system maritime liability law is and how seemingly unjust it is.Specifically, the damages plaintiffs can receive on land in the event of injury, wrongful death and other maladies is different when the accidents occur at sea. For example, there are significant limitations on pain, suffering and spousal rights for maritime accidents that do not apply on land. Galligan said the law should be changed if it is to be fair and just. Galligan’s testimony has been publicized widely and he has been quoted regularly in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other publications. He also has appeared on business programs on television and radio.At Colby-Sawyer, Galligan’s accomplishments include bringing in record numbers of students, energizing the campus with spirit and optimism and providing strong leadership. He has served as co-chair of the state Civics Education Task Force, which has been looking at the need for enriched civics education in New Hampshire schools. The task force is notable for the participation on it of retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. The other co-chair of the task force is John Hutson, president and dean of the Franklin Pierce Law Center, who recently announced that he would retire from that position at the end of the next academic year.Hutson has received great national attention and brought credit to his institution through his expertise in military law, especially as it relates to the prisoners held at Guantanamo accused of terrorism. He had served as the Navy Judge Advocate General before joining Pierce Law. As such, Admiral Hutson commanded all of the lawyers in the Navy, and his comments on Guantanamo have been instructive, thoughtful and wise.Back at home, Hutson also has contributed greatly to the progress of his institution, leading the effort in discussions with the University of New Hampshire that resulted in an affiliation of the two institutions, which will be known as the University of New Hampshire Law School before too long. It’s hoped this accomplishment will contribute greatly to both UNH and Franklin Pierce Law, which now will have an affiliated research university with which to offer joint programs in science, intellectual property, business and other areas.Hopefully, upon his retirement, John Hutson will stay in New Hampshire and continue to contribute here. Finally, Dr. Richard Gustafson, chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire, recently completed the transition of that system from a state agency to a quasi-governmental corporation with an independent board of trustees and governance system much like the University System of New Hampshire. Gustafson guided the transition with typical calm, measured leadership.

Community colleges contribute greatly to education as the delivery system of higher education changes. Gustafson recognized that need and has continued to upgrade the offerings of the system. In doing so, he has contributed again to making New Hampshire education better and to helping us follow national trends in making higher education accessible.

Prior to the joining the community college system, Gustafson says he “flunked retirement.” He stepped down as president of Southern New Hampshire University after 16 years of distinguished service there, during which he led that institution from college to university status, enriched its programs, strengthened its finances and its visibility as one of the major educational institutions in New Hampshire.

Before that, he served as academic vice president at Keene State College.

Gustafson is looking at another retirement from this job when a replacement can be found, although no one who knows him thinks that he will fade away from contributing to education in New Hampshire.
Brad Cook is a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.