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.

Introduction of Provost Grasso to UD Community
Roselle Center for the Arts
September 3, 2013

I’m so glad to see all of you here this afternoon, and I hope your fall semester is off to a fantastic start.

First things first: I want to express to Nancy Brickhouse how grateful I am personally—and how grateful the entire UD community is—for her leadership over the past year.

Nancy, enriching this University with the most talented people, the most rigorous programs, the most scholarly impact—this has been your mission, and that mission endures. You’ve positioned us for continued greatness, and we’ll be looking to you for guidance in the months and years ahead.

Could we give Nancy Brickhouse a round of applause?

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I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to introduce the University of Delaware’s new provost, Domenico Grasso.

When we began the search for a provost more than a year ago, we said we needed someone who had the vision to drive our academic agenda—who could pull together the contributions of many different faculty, get broad buy-in for your ideas and build a cohesive strategy around them.

We said we needed someone who isn’t scared of change, who embraces it and finds the opportunities we can derive from it. But we also wanted someone with strong enough values to know what we don’t give up, what we hold onto, so that we don’t become anchorless—like protecting higher education as the lynchpin of social mobility; like emphasizing the importance of a liberal education and interdisciplinary, hands-on learning.

I thank George Watson and all the members of the Provost Search Committee for taking up this charge and finding—in Dom Grasso—the academic leader who will build on UD’s prominence, and ensure that our ideas and assets have demonstrable impact on our common challenges and pressing needs.

Domenico has a proven track record in bringing intellectual diversity to faculty- and program-development. He’s steadfastly focused on integrating knowledge in new and powerful ways to influence how well and how wisely we live.

Let me give you just a few examples of what I mean. Domenico is an environmental engineer who views engineering as a link between science and humanity. He’s a leading proponent and practitioner of holistic engineering—thinking broadly across disciplines and considering the human dimensions at the heart of every design challenge; exploring the considerable social and philosophical issues facing today’s engineers and scientists.

As founding director of Smith College’s Picker Engineering Program—the very first engineering program at a women’s college, by the way—Domenico built, from the ground up, a fully accredited program with nine faculty and fifty incoming students each year. The program was designed to bridge the traditional boundaries between the humanities and the sciences, emphasizing an interdisciplinary unity of knowledge.

As dean of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Vermont, Domenico united three small departments—engineering, computer science and mathematics and statistics—into a new School of Engineering with 85 full-time faculty, 1,000 undergraduates, 250 graduate students and more than $4 million in annual research expenditures. He also created a B.A. program in Engineering in cooperation with the College of Arts & Sciences.

As Vermont’s Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College, Domenico merged five bioscience Ph.D. programs into one integrated program. And he was the architect behind Vermont’s Transdisciplinary Research Initiatives in Complex Systems, Food Systems and Neuroscience, Behavior and Health.

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As we come together as a community this year to reaffirm our most deeply held values—those that guide our work as teachers, scholars and servants—as we forge a new path toward even greater accomplishment, I’m so grateful that we’ll benefit from Dom’s vision, leadership and character.

Please help me welcome University of Delaware Provost Domenico Grasso.

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