Office of the President
Dr. Patrick T. Harker is the 26th president of the University of Delaware. He also serves as professor of business administration in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering.
Happy New Year!
February 2, 2011
A very happy new year to the entire UD community! As 2011 unfolds, we can look back with pride on many achievements that made 2010 such an extraordinary year.
In our actions and accomplishments, we continue to be guided by our Path to Prominence. And so, last year, I convened a group to gauge our fidelity to the plan’s principles, and to measure our progress in meeting its milestones. The Strategic Plan Review Committee engaged many of you in assessing our current initiatives, identifying our biggest challenges and outlining our future direction.
The review, released in the fall, finds that we’re fulfilling the mandates on which the Path to Prominence is based. For instance, we’re hiring in strategic, interdisciplinary areas and launching cross-disciplinary centers to advance innovative problem-solving. We’re expanding the University’s global engagement and influence with new international programs and partnerships. We’re enlarging our research enterprise with unprecedented competitive success. And we can leverage strengths like these as we face the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Two of the World’s Most Prestigious Prizes
Willis F. Harrington Professor Emeritus Richard Heck won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his path-breaking work in carbon-atom linking—work that has transformed organic synthesis. We’ll welcome Professor Heck back to campus in May, along with co-Laureate Ei-ichi Negishi, so the scientists might discuss with us the extraordinary implications of their research.
Meanwhile, senior Matthew Watters was named one of thirty-two U.S. Rhodes Scholars. Matt’s a neuroscience major and political science minor who’s already done extensive public-health work in Haiti and Sudan. At Oxford, he’ll work toward a master’s in global health science.
UD is one of only two universities nationwide that claimed both these prestigious prizes in 2010.
2011 Brings Powerful Momentum and a Clear Direction Ahead
A new freshmen class will soon come into focus. Five days before applications were due for fall admission, we’d already logged nearly 22,000 of them. And the academic caliber of UD hopefuls is better than ever. Compared to the same time last year, SAT scores are up across the board. And among in-state applicants, scores are running an incredible 44 points higher.
Exploring a Law School at UD
In December, the Board of Trustees authorized a feasibility study and business plan for establishing a law school at UD. The feasibility study will be presented to the board in May, but we wouldn’t ask for formal approval until 2013, after we’ve thoroughly investigated curricular, financial and operational issues.
Given that UD is located in the nation’s corporate-law capital, we could fill an important niche in the legal community, attract top-tier students and faculty from across the country and strengthen multidisciplinary research and teaching within our existing programs.
A Growing, Changing Campus
UD’s physical footprint is maybe changing quickest of all. In 2011, we’ll complete three construction projects launched in 2010: the new UD Bookstore on Main Street, the addition to the Bob Carpenter Center and the UDairy Creamery.
Several additional projects in planning throughout 2010 will begin construction this year: phase I of the Carpenter Sports Building expansion and renovation; phase I of the East Campus Residential Complex—comprising two new residence halls on the site of the old Gilbert Complex; and renovations to the Wright House—formerly the Blue & Gold Club. We expect to initiate a number of infrastructure rehabilitation projects across campus and—contingent on additional state aid—to begin major renovations needed at Alison Hall. Most of these projects are bond-financed and will be paid off with user fees.
Work will continue on longer term construction projects, like the Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Lab and the Science and Technology Campus, formerly the Chrysler Assembly Plant. Demolition at the science and tech campus will be mostly completed this year, and we’ll draft a detailed redevelopment plan for the property.
This is a major program of capital investment and restoration. And yet UD’s continued growth in faculty and programs means space on campus will remain tight. We’ll be increasing leased space and asking employees for their patience until the full benefit of this building boom is realized.
Thriving in a Challenging Economy
With Delaware facing a budget challenged by rising health- and pension-benefit costs, a loss of federal stimulus funds and slow-growing tax revenue, UD cannot expect robust state support in the upcoming fiscal year. Throughout the lengthy recession, state funding has made up a steadily declining share of our budget. State appropriations are now at FY2005 levels, and we expect funding to dip even lower in the fiscal year ahead.
To offset this loss, we’ll continue to focus on operating efficiencies, and shrink the annual expenditure growth we've seen over the last several years. We simply will have to do more with less.
Not all the financial news is bleak, though. Last fall, both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s gave UD an AA bond rating, citing solid financial resources, a low debt burden and healthy enrollment and demand. Despite an economy slow to recover—despite our location in one of the nation’s most competitive higher education regions—we’ve earned the confidence of the nation’s top bond-rating agencies.
And growing gift revenue is another reason for optimism. Last fiscal year, UD raised more than $41 million in new gifts and pledges—a 30-percent jump over last year. We’re indebted to our loyal alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends for their critical financial support. Your generous investment in UD shows your belief in our mission and your faith in our ability to achieve it. This commitment—especially now—is deeply gratifying.
I look forward to UD’s dynamic growth in 2011—to building on our strengths, meeting our challenges and becoming the University of our aspirations. Change at UD has been quick and significant—the Strategic Plan Review Committee called it “dizzying”—and none of it would have been possible without the most visionary, most supportive faculty and staff any university could hope for.
I’m grateful for your hard work thus far, and I welcome your continued effort, input and guidance as we begin this next leg of our journey along the Path to Prominence.
Patrick T. Harker