Tuesday, April 6, 2010

David Severn: The Voice of Dimond

For 13 years David Severn has worked in Dimond Library at UNH. For those 13 years he has been a savior to hundreds, probably thousands, of students who needed assistance or a kick-start in research. It was recently announced that Mr. Severn's contract will be terminated at the end of the school year. His contract would have been up after next year after which he was planning to retire. According to this facebook group Dean Vellucci decided to cut Severn's contract due to a restructuring of the library. Now, this could just be speculation, but it sounds like if Severn is forced to leave he will not receive his retirement benefits that he would have received, and very much deserves, at the end of next year. Over 600 students have already joined that facebook group in support of Severn, which was only about 30 people when I joined last night.

I am a pretty independent person when it comes to research projects, but David helped me out big time last year the first time I really needed to use the library's resources for an essay. Take a look at some of the things that students have said about him on that facebook group:

  • I had to do research last year for my first big paper (10+ pages) and he was so helpful with getting me started and pointing me to the right direction. I probably wouldn't have found half my sources if it hadn't been for him.
  • Working on my recent research project for my thesis, I have had to borrow various resources from all over the country. Of course when you are using other libraries' things, you hit snags. I ran into some rough deadlines, but David was there to help me out of my bind and I got accomplished what I needed to. He helped me out a ton, and he was so genuinely happy to do so.
  • I call this dude the British Morgan Freeman. He's the man.
  • I don't even go to UNH and I love David Severn. Seriously though, all it takes is my handful of visits to the Diamond library and I have no idea what I would do if his voice no longer sounded through the stacks at closing time.
  • How can UNH even consider terminating the contract of a man who is one year away from retirement after he has served this community so dutifully and humbly for thirteen years? I mean seriously, this man is kind, hardworking and is willing to help any student with any problem. How many UNH officials have worked as hard or done as much as him?
  • He is, without a doubt, the nicest and most helpful person that works at that library. Why would UNH do this to him? Whenever I need help on some sort of research, I always go to him over any other employee of the libraray. Why? Because he's the best, most knowledgable, and kindest of them. I'm sure pretty much any student would agree with that.
It is pretty apparent that David Severn has had a huge impact on the UNH community. Maybe some of the administrators and deans who park their BMW's and Mercedes in personalized parking spots could take a pay cut instead of letting go of the one person who has probably had more of a direct influence on students than anyone else on this campus.

EDIT: I sent this email to Dean Vellucci (sherry.vellucci@unh.edu). Please feel free to adapt it or send your own!

Dear Dean Vellucci,
I was very upset to learn today that David Severn will not be returning to Dimond Library for the fall semester. If I was informed correctly, next year would be the final year of his contract before his retirement. Throughout my time at UNH Mr. Severn has been extremely helpful when it comes to research, more so than anyone else on campus including professors, advisers and other library employees.

In less than 24 hours over 1,400 students have joined an online group in support of David Severn staying for his final year. These students have all shared meaningful stories of Mr. Severn helping them when others would or could not. Ending his contract would deeply upset many students on campus, so I ask you to reconsider your decision to let him go. He is a wonderful person and has been an integral part of our campus for 13 years and it would be a disgrace to the University for his career to end this way.

Many students would argue that David Severn has had more of an impact on their academic career than any professor, administrator, dean or adviser. He happily helps each individual who requests his assistance, I wish the same could be said about more employees at this university. Please, Dean Vellucci, reconsider your decision to end David Severn's career at UNH. He deserves better treatment for the amount of time he has spent building our community at UNH.

(name UNH grad year)

Stay classy, not UMassy. 



  2. "Maybe some of the administrators and deans who park their BMW's and Mercedes in personalized parking spots could take a pay cut instead of letting go of the one person who has probably had more of a direct influence on students than anyone else on this campus."

    Well said dude, well said

  3. I don't think the University will hear the end of this one for a while...

  4. David Severn is one of the most helpful people in the library and I can't believe Dean Vellucci is deciding to axe him only one year before his retirement due to something called restructuring. He has helped me and my friends many times and judging from the facebook group Save David Severn, he has helped countless others. Please UNH, change your mind and keep this valuable member of our community on staff!!!

  5. This is a wonderful letter! I'm so glad you're writing it. You should also cc a copy to the Provost and VP of Administrative Affairs, John Aber (Dean Vellucci's boss). His email is john.aber@unh.edu. Thanks again for supporting David Severn!

  6. I'm not knocking the cause or the effort, but has anyone from the blog, paper or Facebook group actually spoken to David Severn about this? Is it possible he agreed to leave and receive severance pay and partial retirement benefits this year instead of next? I may be playing devil's advocate here, but I'd rather hear the news from the horses' mouth (either his or the administrations) than through message boards. From what I can tell this movement started based on an anonymous post in the comment section of TNHonline.

    If I'm totally off base here, just call me Mike Cameron.

  7. Well said John Wayne. Both your devilish advocacy as well as you Mike Cameron pun.

  8. doesn't add up, I'm curious what the man himself has to say about it. you would think they'd just let his contract run out and then consider their options once he's gone, whether that be not hire someone new or hire someone really cheap or something else.. doesn't seem to P.C. unless he agreed to it

  9. OK, so based on the newest TNH article it looks like I was wrong, and he didn't agree to leave. But his contract is also not being terminated prematurely, UNH is just choosing not to give him a new one-year contract. A lot of the sentiments about keeping him around are still valid, but the accusations that the university is *breaking* a contract seem to be out-of-line. Either way, the guy should be getting a better send-off then he is right now.

  10. If you lose your job, there is no difference between being fired and losing your contract. They feel the same, and you don't have any money. Never let anybody put that wool over your eyes.