New dean named at UNH Manchester

Dr. Ali Rafieymehr, a software engineer who has had dual careers in the computer industry and higher education, has been named the new dean of the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, an appointment that UNH officials say will help strengthen the urban campus' ties to Merrimack Valley businesses.

The university announced the appointment on Wednesday. Rafieymehr will assume the position on July 1, taking over the post from Dr. Sally Ward, a UNH sociology professor who will have served as interim dean for two years.

Rafieymehr was most recently dean of the Division of Information Technology and Sciences at Champlain College in Vermont, and prior to that was department chair and professor of computer science and information technology at Western New England University.

Rafieymehr has also held teaching positions at Saint Anselm College, University of Massachusetts Lowell and Merrimack College.

During his academic career, Rafieymehr designed the "Kids in Technology and Science" program, to spark interest in science and technology among schoolchildren, especially female students.

But his career has not always been in higher education. Rafieymehr — who holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from UMass Lowell — spent two decades of his career as a software engineer at Digital Equipment Corp. and Avici Systems.

His time working in the computer industry in the Merrimack Valley, coupled with his academic experience, means he "will be able to hit the ground running as we continue to grow our partnerships with businesses in the area," said UNH Provost John Aber in a release.

As NHBR reported in February, Jeremy Hitchcock, CEO of Dyn Inc., and Ralph Sidore, Manchester property manager, both quit the UNHM dean's advisory board in January, citing their frustrations with what they called the university's inability to strike up meaningful partnerships with area businesses and adapt to the workforce training needs in Manchester.

Sidore also expressed concern over whether the new UNHM dean would possess the spirit of entrepreneurship that he said is necessary to propel the university into the role.

In the statement announcing the appointment, UNH President Mark Huddleston said that Rafieymehr possesses the "background and entrepreneurial credentials needed to continue to advance our efforts around workforce needs and economic development."

Rafieymehr echoed a similar sentiment, saying that he looks forward to partnering with businesses to "make the greater Manchester area a growth and learning center for our students and business partners."

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