Though the university was founded in 1866, classes on the Durham campus officially began in the fall of 1893 for a total of 64 undergraduate students. In 1923, the institution’s name changed from the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts to its current moniker, the University of New Hampshire, and today it is the largest university in the state. UNH is one of the few land-, sea-, and space-grant institutions in the United States.
“Established to serve sons and daughters of farming and laboring families, UNH was one of the early land-grant institutions. Originally located in Hanover, Durham became the main campus in 1893 after a farmer named Benjamin Thompson, for whom Thompson Hall was named, donated land and money to help develop the university. Today nearly 13,000 students and faculty work and live around the Durham campus.”
The 1,100 acres of UNH’s campus are postcard-perfect, with wide wooded lawns and historic brick buildings. Thompson Hall is the centerpiece of campus and students are often found reading, playing Frisbee or napping on the grass outside the building. Most of UNH’s facilities are located within a ten-minute walk from Thompson Hall, so campus is fairly compact and easy to navigate. The ice-skating rink is located on campus, and since it’s open to the public, lots of students take advantage of the activity on cold weekends.
Durham is a cozy little town whose residents generally welcome UNH students. With the college in the middle of town, everything a student needs to take advantage of the quaint village is within walking distance. Main Street, where most attractions are located, runs along one edge of campus and provides shopping, eating and nightlife. Plus, campus is just over an hour’s drive from all that Boston has to offer.
UNH takes over the town of Durham, which has an awesome Main Street full of good food and places to hang out. You can get anywhere in Durham by foot, and if you’re feeling lazy, you can hop on a bus.
Downtown Durham’s best hangout spots include Wings Your Way and Durham House of Pizza (affectionately called DHOP). Wings has an incredible selection of wraps and burgers and a quirky atmosphere that you can’t help but love. On weekends you can always find people eating there, some sharing a pitcher of beer while watching a game on the huge flat screens. DHOP is famous for their $1.50 slices of pizza after 11pm on weekends, when students queue up in a long line to grab some late-night grub. There is also a cute little coffee shop called Breaking New Grounds that’s always buzzing with student activity, and the outdoor seating makes for good people-watching while you’re sipping that cup of joe. There are several bars sprinkled throughout downtown that contribute to UNH nightlife.
Adventurous students who want to get out of Durham can take a bus across the bay to nearby Portsmouth. The old town is a great place to go for students looking for a good dinner (including Mexican, sushi, and more) or a more laidback bar. A lot of students also like the Stone Church, which is only a bus ride away in Newington. On weekends, they feature a lot of indie-folk bands that always draw big crowds of music lovers. Whether you feel like staying around campus or taking a short bus ride somewhere else, there is a ton of stuff to do around UNH.
One of UNH’s most famous traditions began in the early 1970s. After the Wildcats score their first goal at home hockey games, a fish is thrown onto the ice to symbolize the opposing team having to fish the puck out of the net.
Halloween is a huge holiday at UNH. Every year on the Friday closest to Halloween, a set of apartments called the Greens hosts an “around the world” party. Hundreds of students dressed to the nines party outside of the apartments; it’s so big that there’s usually a police presence (though the cops are mostly there to make sure no one gets out of line).
Every year the school hosts an unofficial spring concert coinciding with Cinco De Mayo. Ludacris and Snoop Dogg have performed in recent years.
Tailgating before football games in the fall is always popular. While you have to be twenty-one to drink on the fields behind the football stadium, anyone and everyone is there. Some people don’t end up making it to the actual game, but the hours spent hanging out with fellow UNHers are always a good time.
Ty Conklin (2001) plays professional ice hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ralph Cox (1979) was the last player cut from the 1980 US Olympic hockey team.
Jason Krog (1999) plays hockey for the New York Rangers and won NCAA hockey’s top individual prize, the Hobey Baker Award, in 1999.
Rod Langway (1977) was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.
Mike O’Malley (1988) was the host of the old-school Nickelodeon show Guts.
UNH is NCAA Division I and a member of the America East Conference. Hockey is the biggest sport on campus and the program has turned out many professional hockey stars; football draws some big crowds as well.
Hockey is one of the top sports that UNH is known for. There’s nothing like seeing fish being thrown onto the ice after the first goal at a home game. Broomball is a really popular intramural sport. It’s played on the huge rink, and people run around in their sneakers trying to make goals. There are a lot of bumps and bruises involved, but it requires no athletic ability and more than 5% of the school participates!
UNH was featured in a 2004 episode of Choose or Lose on MTV during the presidential campaign season. The program featured Drew Barrymore asking students questions on campus.
In September 2007, UNH’s Whittemore Center played host to a Republican presidential primary debate. UNH students posed questions to the candidates in prerecorded video segments.
The dorms provide the quintessential college experience for as long as undergrads can handle it. Most dorms (especially freshman housing) tend to have a partying atmosphere, but if you’d rather come home to a more peaceful environment, there are quieter options as well.
There are 27 dorms at UNH. The major dorms on campus include the four freshman dorms, Stoke Hall, and Congreve Hall.
The freshman dorms, some of which house over 650 students, are some of the biggest buildings on campus, and they’re usually known as the wildest. All the freshman dorms are relatively far from Main Street and can thus feel a bit secluded, but with so many people living together, the geographic isolation helps to create a sense of community among residents. Most incoming freshmen want to live in these dorms so that they’ll be with lots of other new students, but those who don’t get placed there won’t be alone: UNH housing saves 25% of every other hall for freshmen, so you’ll never be the only freshman in your dorm.
Stoke is an eight-floor high-rise building with about 650 students and a reputation as one of the rowdier housing options. Some wings are co-ed while others are single-sex. While the Resident Assistants try their best to keep noise levels down during quiet hours, Stoke is known for being a loud place to live. Residents usually complain that the entire building shares just two elevators, so the wait can seem interminable.
Congreve Hall is a relatively new dorm that houses almost 300 students. Because of its prime location on Main Street next to the Whittemore Center (UNH’s arena), a lot of students list Congreve as their number one choice for housing. The hall has great study lounges and usually stays fairly quiet. It also has a lot of singles for those who don’t want a roommate.