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 Academic New Year
July 9, 2009

As I wish you all a "Happy Academic New Year," I'm very aware it was less than a month ago that we ended the last one. But what a way to end it! Our inaugural Forum and Reunion weekend was a huge success. A remarkable number of Blue Hens and friends have thanked me personally for the opportunity to come back “home” in such style. Of course, I must pass the thanks on to you for the warm and memorable welcome they received.  

I’ll repeat here what I said at last month’s “UDid It!” picnic: “This University cannot achieve greatness without all of you achieving excellence in everything you do, every day.” I doubt that sentiment will ever be truer than it will this fiscal year—a year that will provide each of us enormous opportunities and challenges. Certainly, the recession has affected the implementation of some strategic priorities. But while our pacing is more measured, our progress has not stopped; our Path has not been altered.

Beside us on this Path to Prominence are a number of new people in key leadership roles—some new to the University, some merely new to the position. I welcome Tom Apple as provost; Michael Gamel-McCormick as dean of the College of Education and Public Policy; Kathleen Matt as dean of the College of Health Sciences; and Bernard Muir as director of Athletics and Recreation Services. I also welcome Gil Sparks as chair of the University’s Board of Trustees.

I can guarantee you that the next twelve months will be as exciting as they are challenging. We will begin making UD an even more welcoming community, more stimulating and more diverse. We will enhance University support of field-based research and internships. We will continue to pursue significant American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars and support faculty as they seek ever more competitive contracts and grants.

We will make good progress toward our aggressive carbon reduction goal—20 percent by 2020—set on Earth Day 2009. (Helping the green cause is this fall's expansion of single-stream recycling to the UD campus and across the City of Newark.) And we will launch a new interdisciplinary institute focusing on the environment.

As each of us begins another year of hard work—on these and other initiatives—I hope you take a certain measure of pride in the fact that the Chronicle of Higher Education just named UD a “Great College to Work For.” I certainly do. And I thank all of you who responded to the survey that earned us such a wonderful distinction.

UD may well be a great university, but no university can be greater than its faculty and staff. We are in the fortunate position of still being able to hire outstanding faculty in critical areas. We are also meeting the obligations of our collective bargaining agreement. However, the University of Delaware is hardly unaffected by the recession. State support for higher education has, naturally, declined. Our endowment has shrunk 36 percent in just one year and now stands at $988 million. While fundraising efforts were strong last year, bringing in $31 million in gifts and pledges, we cannot simply assume going forward that we will be able to support much more than core programs and services—and certainly not some of our more ambitious goals.

As we continue to limit expenses and pursue appropriate income opportunities, we will also move completely to Responsibility-Based Budgeting, a revenue-incentive budget model. It focuses academic decision-making authority at the dean level, and aligns that authority with responsibility and accountability for managing both revenues and expenses. Responsibility-Based Budgeting is the standard by which leading universities operate, and I’m confident we can use it well at UD to advance progress in our strategic plan.

But, this year, vigorous fundraising and vigilant money management simply aren’t enough. This fall, we will welcome the largest freshman class in UD’s history. We will also welcome significantly more Delawareans—24 percent more this year than last. Our Commitment to Delawareans promises in-state students financial aid up to their full demonstrated need for tuition, fees, on-campus room and board and books. As you can imagine, in a recession as severe as this, the number of students demonstrating such need has grown substantially. In fact, since 2004–05, total undergraduate financial aid has jumped 61 percent to just under $90 million. Come fall, 26 percent of all tuition revenue will go directly to aid. That number, too, is record-setting.

To fulfill our Commitment to Delawareans, we are raising in-state undergraduate tuition by $760 this year; out-of-state students will see an increase of $1,980. Costs are rising for just about everything these days, so it’s little surprise that costs are also climbing for colleges and universities. We are constantly faced with managing multiple priorities and making difficult decisions that will enable UD to continue providing the best in undergraduate and graduate education. Decisions regarding tuition are always made with the utmost care, by the administration and by the Board of Trustees. The 2009–10 tuition increases are important to the present and to the future of the University of Delaware.

Additionally, to achieve consistency in graduate tuition rates across programs and colleges, UD is implementing, this fall, market-based rates for all graduate students. The Graduate and Professional Education Web site has more information on our new graduate tuition policy and on scholarships available to in-state students to offset increased costs. Visit the Web site at

If FY 2009 taught us anything, it’s that if we work together toward shared and important goals, we can develop new ideas and achieve measurable success. I will need your ideas and innovation, your engagement and energy, as much this year as I did last year.

Again, I wish you a "Happy Academic New Year," and I look forward to our work ahead—as a true community of educators, advocates, problem-solvers and leaders.


Patrick T. Harker

  • University of Delaware   •   Newark, DE 19716   •   USA
    Phone: (302) 831-2792   •   © 2013