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.
Joint Finance Committee Hearing
Legislative Hall, Dover
February 4, 2010
Good afternoon. I thank Senator Cook, Representative Williams, and the entire Joint Finance Committee for this chance to speak with you today.
I’d like to introduce a few key members of UD’s senior staff: Tom Apple, who assumed the provost position last July. Tom was previously dean of UD’s College of Arts & Sciences, and we’re thrilled to have him now serving as the University’s chief academic officer; Scott Douglass, executive vice president and treasurer; JJ Davis, vice president for administration; and Chris Hudson, interim director of the University’s budget office. They’ll be happy to join me in answering any questions you have following my presentation.
I’d also like to acknowledge the University of Delaware Trustees who have joined us today: Everett Toomey, Wes Towers, and Mary Jane Willis.
I’ll begin by acknowledging that the University understands Delaware’s difficult financial position. Clearly, the recession has taken a toll locally and nationally, and economic recovery will be slower than we’d hoped. And yet we find the resulting cuts to UD’s budget unfortunate—primarily because we understand the impact those cuts will have not only on the University but on the larger Delaware community.
I’ve talked a lot about UD serving as an economic engine for the state, and there’s mounting evidence that that engine is growing even more powerful.
For instance, UD’s Center for Applied Business & Economic Research just produced a preliminary report analyzing the economic impact of federal stimulus dollars invested in UD. According to the forecast, the $56 million in stimulus funding that UD has won so far is expected to generate $160 million in economic impact nationwide. The effect within Delaware is significant, as well. That $56 million should yield $98 million in-state—nearly twice the federal investment—and fund jobs for more than 1,000 Delawareans during the life of the projects.
The federal government is investing in UD for a reason: Our research is paying off.
Last month, UD signed the first license for our vehicle-to-grid technology, developed by professor Willett Kempton and research fellow Jasna Tomic. AutoPort in New Castle has been given non-exclusive rights for commercial fleet vehicles, and the agreement launches the first large-scale demonstration of UD’s V2G technology, which allows electric car owners to store electricity in their car battery and send that energy back to the grid at peak hours for cash refunds.
AutoPort will retrofit 100 V2G cars over the next year and expects the number of car conversions to grow from the hundreds into the thousands. With every thousand conversions expected to generate about 250 new jobs, the potential benefit to Delaware is extraordinary.
Wind Turbine: College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment
There’s more good news in profitable sustainability—this time in Lewes, home to UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. In April, we’ll erect a utility-scale 2.0-megawatt wind turbine on the Lewes campus. The turbine, to be built and installed by the Gamesa Corporation, will stand about 400 feet high and provide enough clean, carbon-free electricity to power the entire campus. And when it generates more—and it will—the excess will be fed to the grid for use by Lewes residents.
But the turbine won’t just provide emissions-free electricity to Lewes; it will intensify UD’s coastal turbine research with Gamesa and pave the way for the first offshore wind turbine in the Americas—in just 2–3 years.
Redevelopment of the Chrysler Newark Assembly Plant
Our leadership in research and partnerships; our capacity to innovate and bring those innovations to market; our obligation to transform our intellectual assets into something real and beneficial—these things will grow Delaware’s economy and put its people to work.
And our economic impact will compound once redevelopment of the Chrysler Newark Assembly Plant begins in earnest. Even in our preparation for development of this property—including decommissioning, demolition, and salvage work—we’re providing jobs for more than 100 people, including some former Chrysler employees.
All the industries driving today’s economy—they will have a home on the property … energy and environmental technologies, interdisciplinary engineering, health sciences and translational medicine. And with those industries come jobs.
To forecast how many, I’ll offer perspective: The Delaware Technology Park, about two miles from UD’s campus, is five buildings on 40 acres—maybe 200,000 square feet in all. And it’s maxed out. Since start-up, it’s attracted $250 million in investment and $300 million in grants. With 54 tenant companies, the park has had a hand in creating 16,000 jobs over the last decade.
Now build that out to a 272-acre parcel of land whose first phase of development—comprising just one-third of the total acreage—could yield 4 million square feet and thousands of jobs. Its potential is extraordinary, and I thank the State and Governor Markell for their support of our acquisition and redevelopment of the property.
Delaware Health Sciences Alliance
As you know, partnerships will be critical to the transformation of this land into a dynamic science and technology campus.
Several components of the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance will likely be located there. Already, Thomas Jefferson University is planning to build its Health Education Campus on the property, providing clinical training for hundreds of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and occupational and physical therapists. That training brings those health care workers to Delaware; puts them in our hospitals, our clinics, and our homes; and keeps many of them here long after their training has ended.
The Alliance will yield new health-professional jobs, new business start-ups and expansions, more industry investment, significant federal funding—and, of course, some groundbreaking science. It draws on the collective strengths and expertise of four of the region’s top research, education, and health care institutions: UD, Thomas Jefferson University, Christiana Care Health System, and Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children. And we hope in the future this Alliance will grow to include additional Delaware health care institutions, such as Bayhealth Medical Center and Beebe Medical Center.
Aberdeen Proving Ground R&D Agreement
But the Alliance certainly isn’t the only partnership we see residing on the campus. Just over a week ago, the University signed an R&D agreement with the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The agreement removes the legal hurdles inherent in two organizations working together. It allows the scientists on both sides to collaborate more efficiently—to translate research into innovative products benefitting U.S. soldiers and, very often, civilians as well. We’ve already signed a statement of work under the agreement, outlining joint research in antenna technology and composite materials.
And, again, this interdisciplinary and inter-laboratory collaboration will generate high-tech startups and spinoffs. This is important to us, because the incubation and proliferation of businesses based on the campus’s intellectual assets is a big part of our vision.
FY 2011 Requests
The University understands the constraints imposed by a significant budget gap. At the same time, we realize that investment in UD has an aggregating effect; it creates jobs and grows the economy—Governor Markell’s twin criteria for funding priority.
If additional revenues do become available, we request that the operating and pass-through cuts to UD’s budget be restored. And—especially if additional revenues are not available—we request your support for the epilogue language that allows UD’s colleges flexibility in their operating budgets.
Further, we’d like additional investment in redeveloping the former Chrysler-owned property. Its transformation into a science & technology campus is perhaps the State’s top prospect for vigorous economic development well into the future. I’ve already mentioned the partnership opportunities we’re pursuing with the Army and as part of the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance—partnerships that will have a lasting, positive economic impact on this State and its citizens.
And, finally, because UD’s ability to recruit and retain top-quality faculty and staff correlates closely with the compensation package we offer, we urge the State to fund domestic partner benefits. Our ability to remain competitive with peer universities nationwide is increasingly compromised on this point. Years ago, economic and social pressures moved these benefits from the margins to the mainstream, and research is finding they’re a cost-effective way to optimize workforce potential. If we want to attract top talent to the University—and to the State—and to keep that talent contributing to a vibrant economy, we’ll fund this benefit.
Commitment to Delawareans
The University remains deeply committed to the State, its leadership, and its economic priorities—to Delaware’s workforce, its families, and its students. And so it’s on that Commitment—our Commitment to Delawareans—that I’ll end.
Last fall, the financial component of the program kicked in, meaning not only would we admit all qualified in-state applicants to the University, we’d meet their full demonstrated financial need—up to the total cost of tuition, room & board, books, and fees—and we’d cap their debt upon graduation.
Last semester, 435 Delawareans—more than one-third of the in-state freshmen enrolled—shared in $2.7 million made available through the program. Our Commitment has made college possible for so many deserving Delaware students, and eased the financial burden on their families.
More Delaware students are applying to, being admitted to, and enrolling at the University of Delaware. The number of in-state students admitted to UD last year increased 12 percent over the year before, and the number enrolled jumped 24 percent. The number of in-state applicants for this fall is up 7 percent over the same time last year—and last year reflected a 12-percent jump over 2008.
In fact, applications are up across the board. The Office of Admissions has logged 25,259 of them—another one-year, 7-percent increase. And the caliber of these students is just remarkable: SATs, GPAs, and class ranks are all running higher than ever before. The average SAT score in this year’s applicant pool is 9 points higher than last year, and average percentile rank is nearly a full point higher.
With students like these—students who will themselves lead Delaware to greater prominence and prosperity—one can’t help but be optimistic for the future. Through our academic programs and our research and service opportunities, we’re enhancing Delawareans’ skills and educating them for future career and life success.
I thank you for your time today, and for your support of the University. I invite the new members of the Committee—or anyone who hasn’t visited UD lately—to come to our campus and see first-hand the economic promise and commitment that UD represents.