Bill Bucknall ’63 A.S., ‘65 loves the theater. He can’t pinpoint exactly when that passion struck him; perhaps, he says, it is in his blood. “My mother’s side is Irish. They love the theater and a good story,” he says. One of the delights of his retirement is going to the theater in Manhattan or London or, he is quick to mention, “the theater here at UNH.”
Bill cares deeply about UNH’s theater program and has been proud to watch it blossom. He has been instrumental in that growth, as his recent gifts helped make the renovation of the University Theater in Dodds Hall a reality.
“The theater department not only provides students with an understanding of theater and all of the academics associated with it but it also gives students a confidence in themselves to project who they are on a stage,” Bill said. “So much in the business world is about being able to stand on your own two feet and to persuade people to move in a certain way.”
Bill honed some of his own skills as a columnist with The Charger Bulletin when he was a student. In one column, he wrote that corporations should be responsible for educating people for the jobs they wanted them to perform. It was a telling statement. After graduating in 1965, he began a career in human resources at United Technologies. Over 41 years, he rose to become one of the top human resources professionals in the nation and spent 16 years as senior vice president before retiring in 2008.
During Bill’s tenure UTC became known for one of the most generous employee educational assistance programs in the country. “An education is the propulsion system to gainful employment but also to something far beyond that,” he says. “It allows you to appreciate so many aspects of life, to learn to enjoy reading or the arts.”
Bill was inducted into the National Academy of Human Resources in 1997 and served on the North American Executive Board of the MIT Sloan School of Management. He served on the UNH Board of Governors from 1992 to 2000, including as its chair from 1998 to 2000. He rejoined the board in 2006 and was named vice chair in 2012. In honor of his remarkable career and dedication to his alma mater, he was honored with the President’s Award at the University’s 30th Anniversary Scholarship Ball in 2013.
Bill says he is committed to UNH because of all that it gave him. “You begin to think about how your life would be entirely different had you not had this education,” he said. “And when you achieve some form of success, there is an inclination to want to share that with the institution that started it all for you.”