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.
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Carvel Research & Education Center, Georgetown
December 3, 2013
I thank everyone for coming. It’s terrific to be here with CANR’s biggest supporters. And it’s always great to talk about the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, because this college is the University’s past—and its future.
From the moment UD was given land-grant status 150 years ago, we had a mandate to bring the latest agricultural practices into the community, to help make this country more productive, to spread knowledge and wealth to the working classes. This is where a young country’s exercise in better democracy and greater prosperity began.
A lot has changed since then. We’ve grown: seven colleges, 22,000 students and a reputation as one of the country’s very best public research universities. But CANR is still, in many ways, the heart and soul of UD. That’s a credit to you.
CANR was founded on engagement with our neighbors, and that hasn’t changed. The Ag community is smaller than it was 150 years ago. But it’s still an $8 billion industry in Delaware, one that we dedicate 40 percent of our land to. And every day, this college deals in the biggest issues out there: human health; food safety and security; clean air, clean water, clean land, clean energy.
This college exists at the intersection between agricultural production and environmental protection. How do we feed the world’s growing population? How do we do it ethically, efficiently and responsibly?
There are critical tensions at play—right here at home and around the globe—between cultivation and sustainability, between abundance and hunger, between changing demography and responsible land use. These aren’t issues for the faint-hearted. These are huge.
So it shouldn’t surprise anyone here that our plan is to grow the college that’s tackling them. CANR will grow. We’ll grow in students and faculty and research. We’ll lead the conversation on these issues and back it up with our work.
And what this means is that we’ll need your partnership more than ever. We’ll need your input and feedback on our plans and how we implement them. We’ll need you to visit with Dean Rieger and his staff, and with the faculty doing our most important research. And we’ll need your continued investment in this college and its students.
On that last point, I owe you a huge “thank you.” Your support of our students is incredible. CANR is our second-smallest college, and yet it has nearly 80 endowed scholarships—more than any other college at UD. I can link a scholarship or a fellowship to a lot of you here today, and that kind of generosity means everything.
I know I speak for Dean Rieger and everyone here from UD when I tell you how grateful we are for your belief in our mission and our work. You have a personal connection to this University—you’ve made a promise—and you’ve made us stronger.
I want to share how we’re matching your promise to students, because I know a lot of you care deeply about the opportunities we offer all of Delaware’s students—whether they’re enrolled in CANR or not. Our Commitment to Delawareans is a two-part pledge of access and affordability, a promise that Delaware students won’t compete with out-of-state students for a place at UD, and that financial need won’t be an obstacle to enrollment.
Since we launched the Commitment in 2008, University aid going to Delawareans has more than quadrupled. The state’s contribution brings total aid to $18.4 million. I want to thank Sec. Kee and the state for their incredible support.
The number of Delaware freshmen enrolling at Newark has climbed by nearly a third over those same five years.
What these students get is the best education we have to offer. In CANR, that means some of the most authentic hands-on learning possible. With a farm up in Newark—and 375 acres right here in Georgetown—students are in the field (literally), doing the work that makes a difference.
They get to collaborate with other colleges at UD, other universities, with state and federal agencies on the kinds of problems that will be solved only by different people—in different disciplines—working together.
They get the most accomplished scientists and faculty who involve them in their research, and show them just how important it is—show them that CANR’s work is both local and global and has clear, credible impact.
CANR’s students get targeted support. Our new “Ag-celerate” program offers them the kind of one-on-one relationships and opportunities that give them a better shot at success.
They get to see—up close—one of the most successful outreach programs in our history. Cooperative Extension turns 100 next year. It’s our premier program connecting University knowledge with community need. It’s a model for the rest of UD—and this Center is at its heart. I thank Michelle Rodgers and Mark Isaacs for their leadership and commitment to Extension’s mission of engagement and impact.
Finally, what CANR and its students get is access to this incredible community of leaders. Your investment of time and talent; your consistent guidance; your hard work toward common goals—they really do make all the difference, and we’re so grateful.
So, where do we take CANR from here?
Soon after Dean Rieger came to UD last year, he engaged faculty and staff in answering that question. Mark drew on his experience as a professor and administrator at the University of Florida and the University of Georgia. And he listened to people like you in the community who understand Delaware’s needs better than anyone else.
Mark has some great ideas, but the plan is still a work in progress. So as you listen, I ask you to think about a few broad questions:
− What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the industry in the decades ahead and how can we collaborate on a path forward?
− How can we best protect our natural resources from amplifying pressures?
− How can CANR strengthen its relationship with you—and build new ones with the next generation of Delawareans?
They’re important questions, and I look forward to a good discussion today.