UNH announces joint recipients of Thomas W. Haas Professorship

February 22, 2018

Written By: Colleen Flaherty, Communications Coordinator

On February 5th, UNH named Curtis Ogden and Karen Spiller as joint recipients of the Thomas W. Haas Professorship in Sustainable Food Systems. The professorship was established in 2013 with a $1 million gift to the Sustainability Institute at UNH from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, generated from a donor-advised fund established by Durham philanthropist Tom Haas.

According to the Sustainability Institute’s founding executive director Tom Kelly, the Haas Professorship was established to deepen the ties between UNH and the New England food system; “By serving as “Professors of Practice” Karen and Curtis will bring unique community and practitioner perspectives into the UNH sustainable learning community.” Spiller and Ogden’s primary responsibility will be to connect the community engaged, transdisciplinary work of Food Solutions New England (FSNE), and in particular its racial equity work, to students, faculty and staff at UNH through lectures, workshops and collaborative scholarship. FSNE is a regional, collaborative network organized to support the emergence of a sustainable New England food system that is a resilient driver of healthy food for all, racial equity, sustainable farming and fishing, and thriving communities.

"This is a wonderful example of enlightened philanthropy, visionary programming, and practitioner talent coming together to serve the university and the region," said Nancy Targett, UNH Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. "Curtis and Karen are national leaders in food systems sustainability and social justice, and their new role as the Thomas W. Haas Professors in Sustainable Food Systems will allow them to expand that work while contributing to the UNH community. We thank Tom Haas for his vision and generosity."

Karen A. Spiller, Thomas W. Haas Professor of Sustainable Food Systems

“Rarely in a lifetime is one able to find a network of people that is fiercely committed to harnessing individual and collective power and privilege, working collaboratively to create positive change,” says Spiller. “This is an opportunity to work alongside my colleague, Curtis Ogden and extend the learnings and increase the impact of such a network with new participants and emerging partnerships within UNH and its community. With humility and with great anticipation, I look forward to our path ahead, building upon the foundation that FSNE has intentionally designed and inviting even more to the table that has been set to ensure healthy food for all.”

Karen Spiller is Principal of KAS Consulting and her areas of expertise include health and equity-focused initiatives. She has extensive experience in working with youth, young adults and community members in a variety of educational and training programs.  Curtis has served as Senior Associate for the Interaction Institute for Social Change since 2005. His areas of expertise include education, community building, leadership development, and program design, as well as an abiding passion for work at the intersection of racial justice and environmental sustainability. The Thomas W. Haas Professor position was previously held by Joanne Burke, clinical associate professor of nutrition and the director of the dietetic internship program at UNH.

Curtis Ogden, Thomas W. Haas Professor of Sustainable Food Systems

 “I’m humbled and honored to be offered this opportunity,” says Ogden. “I am delighted to share it with my colleague Karen Spiller. Food Solutions New England has been doing bold, innovative and hopeful work at the intersection of food system sustainability, culture, network building and equity. I see the professorship as an opportunity to continue networking our shared food future. I look forward to digging in more deeply to what we have been learning and accomplishing these past several years, to sharing lessons and co-creating new possibilities with others in the UNH community and beyond.”

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