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$20 million new gift to University of New Hampshire from Dana Hamel
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$20 million new gift to University of New Hampshire from Dana Hamel

The University of New Hampshire announced it will open the Hamel Honors and Scholars College in fall of 2024 thanks to a $20 million gift from longtime benefactor and UNH parent Dana Hamel.

The donation will allow for expansion of in-class and extracurricular opportunities for honors students and Hamel Scholars and create a dedicated living-learning community for high-achieving students, according to UNH.

The first incoming cohort in the honors college, likely 250 to 300 students, is slated to be welcomed for the fall 2024 semester. The college is expected to serve roughly 1,000 students in total.

Rendering of renovated Huddleston Hall, new home of the University of New Hampshire’s Hamel Honors and Scholars College.

Including this recent gift, Hamel is the most generous philanthropist in the history of UNH, the school announced. The gift will be used to renovate Huddleston Hall as the home of the honors college and increase the size of the Hamel Scholars program endowment. Founded in 2007 and funded through gifts from Hamel, the program will be part of the honors college.

“My vision for the college is to give hard-working and talented students the opportunity to thrive at a world-class institution,” said Hamel. “My hope for these students is to be challenged to grow through engaged scholarship, academic challenge and self-determination to make a positive impact at UNH, in the state of New Hampshire and beyond.”

Longtime University of New Hampshire benefactor Dana Hamel talks with Hamel Scholars at a 2021 luncheon celebrating their accomplishments.

The honors college represents a “new differentiator … providing high-achieving students an enriched academic experience in a significant revision and expansion of UNH’s current honors program,” according to the school. It will emphasize connections between academic and experiential learning, enable students to create individualized honors experiences and offer greater opportunities to work with faculty mentors from all UNH colleges.

“We are so grateful to Dana for his incredible generosity and unwavering commitment to our students,” said UNH President James W. Dean Jr.

Hamel’s gift will also enable growth of the Hamel Scholars program, which provides merit scholarships and special programming to exceptional students who have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership and community service. The gift will create new programming that will allow students to build connections with New Hampshire, national and international leaders and institutions and will help develop their leadership skills through workshops, trainings and experiences. They will also have increased opportunities to engage with the Hamel Scholars alumni community.

The proposed structure of the Hamel Honors and Scholars College will include a more flexible curriculum for students as compared to the current university honors program, allowing for the creation of individualized pathways as students choose how to distribute their honors work among courses, research and cocurricular experiences.

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