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.

Bond Bill Committee Hearing
Legislative Hall, Dover
May 11, 2011

I thank Sen. Venables, Rep. Keeley, and the entire Joint Committee on Capital Improvement for this chance to talk with you today. Several key members of UD’s staff are with me this afternoon: Scott Douglass, executive vice president and University treasurer; J.J. Davis, vice president for finance and administration; Mike Jackson, budget director; Chris Hudson, senior administrator for business operations; and Mark Brainard, government relations assistant. They’ll be happy to help answer your questions following some brief remarks.

I’ll begin by expressing how deeply grateful we are for the state’s strong and abiding support of UD, and its keen understanding that investments in higher education and research infrastructure pay substantial dividends statewide.

I thank the Bond Committee, the General Assembly, and the Governor for our current-year capital appropriation. The $2 million allocated for our Science and Technology Campus allows us to more aggressively pursue redevelopment efforts in advance of—and concurrent with—critical decommissioning and demolition work. The $1 million appropriated this year for Alison Hall—coupled with the $3.5 million earmarked in the Governor’s FY12 proposal—will accelerate our work on this long-standing renovation project.

Building Delaware’s Future Now
Of course, we’re thrilled and grateful for the Governor’s announcement last week that he’s proposing to invest another $10 million in capital improvements at UD. We’ve identified three high-need projects for these funds.

The first is Alison Hall. As you know from previous funding rounds, this is a vitally important building to UD. It houses undergraduate education, engineering, and basic sciences classrooms—as well as our College of Education and Human Development. The building is nearly 60 years old, and many of its major systems are failing. With this additional state aid, we’ll be able to begin the necessary renovation work in earnest, supporting construction jobs as early as this summer.

The second project is an Animal Care Facility, for which we’ve already secured $8 million in NIH funding. The building is an essential core facility for work in preclinical biomedical sciences. This is where we take the first steps in translating fundamental scientific discoveries into clinical innovations. The facility will be used by researchers from an array of science and engineering disciplines, and will be a key resource in the study of issues like cancer metastasis, cardiovascular disease, vaccine development, osteoporosis and bone growth, and Alzheimer’s and related diseases.

The facility will more than double our capacity for this kind of research, and enable continued growth in our preclinical research programs. It also opens up substantial opportunities for private partnerships, and we’re excited to explore them. State support accelerates our work on this project. Again, we can begin construction—and put Delawareans to work—by this summer.

The third and final project slated for funding is the Magnet Hall in Brown Lab. The Magnet Hall houses eight Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometers, which are used to study the chemical environment of atoms. Together, the magnets offer researchers across the state and the region some of the most advanced NMR technology under one roof. The facility is a critical piece of Delaware’s research infrastructure, permitting multi-institution study in chemistry, biological sciences, materials science & engineering, alternative energy technologies, catalysis, and environmental remediation.

The funding will be used for renovations, repair, waterproofing, and modifications to Brown Lab. The systems currently servicing the Magnet Hall and the north wing of the lab are installed on curbs that rest on the existing Magnet Hall roof deck. Renovations will include creating a containment area. Construction on Brown Lab can begin in January 2012 and be completed next summer.

An Economic Engine
This generous state support is critical to UD’s leadership in economy-driving, job-creating research. It helps us build the state’s research capacity and collaborative infrastructure; leverage state and regional partnerships that expand our reach and amplify our impact; secure national funding that catalyzes still more economic development; and grow industries and jobs that will lay the foundation for Delaware’s prosperity going forward.

I’ve talked to this committee before about UD’s 3+1 strategy—“3” being our research priorities in a trio of high-growth sectors: health sciences, energy and the environment, and national security and defense, and “1” being the infrastructure that enables our leadership in these areas. I want to offer just one example of how these priorities can intersect—how we’re tapping research and partnership synergies to compound their effect.

UD was just awarded a five-year, $19.5 million Department of Defense grant to optimize orthopedic rehabilitation for injured soldiers. The grant involves a consortium of military training facilities, academic researchers, and rehabilitation institutes—some really big names among them: Spaulding/Harvard Rehabilitation Hospital, the University of Texas at Austin, the Mayo Clinic, two Army Medical Centers, two Naval Medical Centers.

The grant capitalizes on our key capabilities in rehabilitation science, physical therapy, and advanced materials. It opens up new opportunities for collaboration with the U.S. Army’s Research Development and Engineering Command in Aberdeen, and could lay the foundation for the Army’s presence on our Science and Technology Campus. We signed a sweeping agreement with RDECOM last year, enabling dozens of joint research projects in emerging IT and defense technologies.

The consortium’s work will spur productive collaboration among our colleges of health sciences and engineering, our Center for Composite Materials, and our new Delaware Rehabilitation Institute. It aligns with the work of the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance—our research, education, and clinical partnership with Thomas Jefferson University, Nemours, and Christiana Care. It can help seal our leadership in rehabilitation science, technology, and therapy.

But, of course, it isn’t research alone that spurs industry and economic development. With most of the U.S.’s leading new industries directly or indirectly related to university research, we need to turn our ideas into assets—and those assets into jobs.

And so true recovery—here in Delaware and across the country—will come only with a deep structural adjustment, where we become better at taking discoveries, inventions, and innovations out of our universities and research institutes, commercializing them, and allowing them to flourish.

UD has focused considerable attention on our technology transfer processes, and we’re seeing great success. Last year, our invention disclosures were up 65 percent over 2009, and the number resulting in a patent application more than doubled. We’re working closely with faculty and student inventors throughout the intellectual property development process—from disclosure through startup launch and beyond. We’re building UD’s entrepreneurial culture and capacity, creating more opportunities for entrepreneurship and a tight network supporting those who pursue it.

But our work extends far beyond the University. Last year, the UD-housed Small Business & Technology Development Center helped clients secure $11.5 million in new capital and $44.7 million in federal contracts. Combined—that’s a 33-percent jump over 2009.

With our partners—like Newark’s Delaware Technology Park—UD has helped create more than 6,500 direct and derived jobs in the state, which, in turn, produced $508 million in labor income.

Last year, the entire UD community—the University itself; our employees, students, visitors and alumni; the companies we’ve helped launch and develop—together, this community stimulated $3.9 billion in spending in Delaware alone. And those expenditures supported more than 30,000 in-state jobs. UD remains an incredible investment: Every state dollar appropriated to the University returns nearly $13 to Delaware’s economy.

Doing It Right
There’s no doubt Delaware is doing something right—a lot of things right. We know how to build the innovation economy, and we’re building it. Delaware just cracked the Milken Institute’s top 10 states in terms of our science and technology capabilities and our strength in converting those capabilities into companies and high-paying jobs. Delaware is harnessing and nurturing the innovation assets within its borders.

And UD is the state’s critical ally in these efforts. Our growing research enterprise is fueling discovery and invention on a scale we’ve never seen before, and we’re leveraging that capital more effectively. We’re bringing small science and technology companies into the state, incubating home-grown ventures, and growing jobs. We’re brokering big regional partnerships in industries vital to Delaware’s prosperity.

We’re educating the leaders who will sustain a thriving Delaware. And, every day—through our education, research, and service missions—we’re reinvesting ourselves in the state and its people.

We deeply appreciate the state’s economic vision and leadership. And we deeply appreciate these capital funds—funds that will help us build an infrastructure supporting sustained growth.

I’m happy to answer your questions.

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