Magazine article Public Management

Administrator Faces the Challenges of a Town as Well as a University

Magazine article Public Management

Administrator Faces the Challenges of a Town as Well as a University

Article excerpt

As the Durham, New Hampshire, town administrator, Todd Selig sometimes has challenges other municipal leaders might not face. Take the post-athletic contest riots near the University of New Hampshire in the past few years.

"It's a very scary situation," Selig said of witnessing the disturbances that caused thousands of dollars in damage and more than 100 arrests and forced UNH to crack down on partying. "As I observe it, my concern is for all of those participants and for the potential consequences of the actions taken. For example, a young person runs through a bonfire and through furniture on fire, and I worry about that person falling and being impaled on a bedspring that's red-hot and that person possibly dying or being severely burned."

And you thought your town manager had it rough during budget season?

But Selig points out that the riots, which have disappeared in the past year, are just one of the unique characteristics of working in the town that is home to UNH. He said he also has the benefit of UNH's world-class experts, a highly educated population that makes up the town boards, and the "vibrancy" of the students, who frequently volunteer and intern in various ways that benefit Durham.

Selig, who married wife Loren Selig on September 10, 2004, said his best days are when he is able to assist residents in solving their everyday problems--whether it's through securing grant funds, resolving employee grievances, or submitting a fiscally responsible budget.

Selig started out as an administrator because of a keen interest in government. While he was initially interested in government at the federal level, Selig said he realized the best way to be effective at the federal or state level was first to understand how local government works.

And it appears that he has done that. Among the highest-regarded municipal managers in the state, Selig was selected last summer to attend a fellowship at Harvard University on governance, and he has made strong connections throughout the state, including when he spent time as a consumer advocate in the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office. …

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