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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #18: Horton Social Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham

Leggo my political science building!

When I arrived at UNH in the fall of 1993, I knew I wanted to study political science and history. As a result, I spent a lot of time in Horton Hall (Horton Social Science Center, to be precise). The third floor was the lair of the political science faculty, and those of us in that program in the mid-1990s had the great good fortune to study under some truly gifted faculty - Trout, Siggelakis, Gordon, Reardon, and a couple of newcomers named Camobreco and Hubbard who were surely far younger than I am now. My favorite, of course, was the late and legendary Bob Craig.

Dr. Craig was in his dotage then, an echo of the towering presence he had once been, shuffling into class with his cane, always in a suit and tie, always insistent that hats be removed before he would begin. His deep well of political history and experience aside, Dr. Craig had long been a fixture in the academic leadership of the institution, and committed to shared governance between faculty, staff, and students. I was sitting next to him at the final meeting of the Academic Senate in 1995, when a segment of faculty leadership beholden to the union and embittered by tough contract negotiations dissolved the longstanding Senate, asserting the primacy of the faculty and dismissing staff and students from debates over academic policy. Dr. Craig tried to stop them, but his tide had ebbed. It was my privilege to attend his final class, and to represent students as president at his funeral in the summer of 1996. Through the generosity of his family, many of the books from his library, his name inscribed in the front cover, survive on my own shelves.

Upstairs, on the fourth floor, was where the rock stars of the College of Liberal Arts could be found, the Olympian history faculty. Jeff Bolster, who fanned the flames of my interest in the early American republic, Greg McMahon, who helped me understand the connections between ancient Greece and modern democracy (and who speaks Hittite), and many more.

I spent many hours in that building, along with Casey Otis, Edward Prisby, Amanda Wood Laihow, Mike Vlacich, Zach Millimet, Erin Buzuvis, Christopher Cain, RJ Burns, Mark Laliberte, Liz Purdy, Peter Finkle, Keith Thomas Paine and many others. We often claim that our real education at UNH came in the MUB and in meetings and experiences across campus, and there's much truth to that. But the older I get, the more I recall things I learned in the halls of Horton, too. Plus - and I'll never ever forget this - the political science building is shaped like a waffle.

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