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.
September 11, 2009
To all our new students, faculty and staff, welcome to the University of Delaware! And to everyone else, welcome back!
Building a Bigger UD
You’ll notice more new faces than usual around campus this fall, as UD greets its largest-ever freshman class—3,839 students strong. It’s as talented a group of students as we’ve seen and even more diverse. I thank the deans and faculty who have adjusted class sizes and schedules to accommodate the record-breaking Class of 2013.
We’re greeting more new graduate students as well—15 percent more. And while the U.S. saw lackluster growth in graduate applications from international students (alongside a decline in admissions), UD posted a 37-percent jump in international applicants. This year, we welcome 1,338 graduate students, more than one-fifth of whom come from nearly three-dozen countries outside the U.S.
In many ways, of course, growing bigger means growing globally. UD is establishing the Institute for Global Studies to develop multi-disciplinary programs with a global focus; to broker partnerships with universities, industries and agencies worldwide; to strengthen our ties to international alumni; and to ensure that the UD campus is welcoming to international students, faculty, staff and visiting scholars.
And, in fact, the Diversity Action Council will continue its efforts to ensure that everyone who studies or works at UD feels welcome here. A new Equity & Inclusion Web site will track UD’s efforts to foster diversity on campus and will publicize training opportunities offered throughout the year.
Tackling the Hottest Topics
It’s going to be an exciting semester. I thank all of you who turned out for Greg Mortenson’s lecture last week. Hearing Greg’s first-hand account of building schools and promoting education—especially for girls—in the remotest regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan was tremendously inspiring. It was UD’s first-ever opening lecture associated with the First-Year Experience program and the perfect way to start the academic year.
We’ll soon welcome many more compelling speakers to campus, among them former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, journalist Gwen Ifill, and actor and activist Edward James Olmos. Joining UD faculty in assessing President Obama’s first year in office will be UD alumnus David Plouffe, a key campaign advisor to Barack Obama, and Ed Gillespie, former chair of the Republican National Committee. In November, pundits and policymakers will address the most hotly debated item on the U.S. legislative agenda: health care reform.
Our Knowledge-Based Partnership Series continues with daylong conferences on improving preK–12 public education—featuring a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan—and on creating new economies for the state, the region, and the nation.
Cheering on the Fightin’ Blue Hens
We’re already in the thick of the fall athletic season, and the football team is coming off a spectacular shutout of West Chester University in our September 4 opener. I remind students that free football tickets are available for advance pickup the week leading up to each home game. For information on box office locations, pickup times and policies, visit UDaily.
I look forward to seeing you on Saturday, as UD takes on the defending Division I FCS champions, #1 ranked University of Richmond. And it’s sure to be a sell-out on September 19, when UD hosts Delaware State University in the battle for the First State Cup. I urge students to pack The Bob the night before and cheer on UD’s volleyball team, proud 2008 CAA champs. A football pep rally will be held between games 2 and 3 of the Hens’ match against UNC.
Unfortunately, the fall will bring more to campus than classes and games, lectures and conferences. With the H1N1 virus expected to affect more people this semester than last, I ask everyone to go to H1N1 411 on UD’s home page for information on how to prevent and contain the virus. (“Wash your hands and, if sick, stay home” sums it up well.) The link also shares guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and broad guidelines for faculty regarding student absences. The page will be updated regularly with information about University policies, class schedules and campus events should an outbreak occur.
Growing a Greener Campus—and a Greener World
Last spring, the University committed to shrinking its carbon footprint—reducing carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020 and securing 10 percent of the electricity used through clean-energy sources. Helping this important cause is the launch of UD’s second shuttle bus powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The bus requires no fossil fuels to operate and produces no harmful emissions—just water.
Plus, we’ve rolled out single-stream recycling campus-wide, a move that should significantly boost participation. The Delaware Solid Waste Authority now expects to collect at least 50 tons of recyclable materials a month from UD. The University’s Recycling Web site answers questions on what can and can’t be recycled and will post statistics on UD’s diversion rate—that is, the extent to which recyclable waste is diverted from landfills.
At UD, good sustainability practice is joined by cutting-edge sustainability research. Next month, the University will expand its cluster of internationally known energy and environment research centers by launching the Delaware Environmental Institute, a four-college collaboration that integrates environmental science, engineering and policy. Additionally, UD’s Energy Frontier Research Center will explore new technologies for the catalytic conversion of biomass—like grasses and trees—into chemicals, electricity and fuels. The Center, established with a five-year, $17.5 million Department of Energy grant, is one of 16 nationwide being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. (So far, UD has won $39.7 million in ARRA funds for research and research infrastructure.)
Managing in a Difficult Economy
As the nation continues to struggle in a difficult economy, UD has many core strengths that have tempered the recession’s effect. The University’s prolific research continues to net us significant funding. External expenditures for research and instruction topped $163 million last year, a 16-percent climb over FY 2005.
We’re also grateful for the steadfast support of alumni and friends. Gifts to the University reached $31.6 million last year, a 17-percent jump over a year earlier. We look forward to engaging our alumni in new and exciting ways in the year ahead. In fact, I’ll be heading to Seoul next month for UD’s first-ever international alumni event, at which we expect hundreds of Korean and expat Blue Hens.
As we begin this busy fall, I look forward to continuing our tradition of excellence in everything we do. Whether you’re new to UD or a longtime family member, I wish you the very best this semester. I’ll see you around campus.
Patrick T. Harker