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NHIA Board Drops September Deadline, Continues With Merger Talks

Ryan Lessard

  The New Hampshire Institute of Art has dropped a September 1st deadline for deciding whether to merge with Southern New Hampshire University. 

During a packed town hall meeting Monday in the institute’s auditorium, NHIA board chair Joe Reilly and SNHU President Paul LeBlanc did their best to persuade a largely skeptical crowd that this was not a hostile takeover.

They said if most students and stakeholders ultimately don’t want this deal, it won’t happen.

Reilly described the institute's financial health as stable but fragile, suggesting a merger would insulate it from an increasingly volatile higher ed climate.

Many who spoke asked for greater transparency. 

Alumnus and photographer Sid Ceaser, who studied under Gary Samson, said his time at the institute was marked by constant change. 

“There are still parts of this merger where I’m like ehhh I don’t know about this, but I think us, as a student body, we have to realize that, one, people like Gary have taught me to be an optimistic artist and not a pessimistic artist about these kinds of things.”

Reilly pledged to hold more public forums before a final decision is made.

Before becoming a reporter for NHPR, Ryan devoted many months interning with The Exchange team, helping to produce their daily talk show. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in Manchester with a major in Politics and Society and a minor in Communication Arts. While in school, he also interned for a DC-based think tank. His interests include science fiction and international relations. Ryan is a life-long Manchester resident.

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