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.

JPMorgan Chase Innovation Center Opening
Purnell and Smith Halls
October 14, 2011

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I thank Guy Chiarello, who’s been such an extraordinary partner to work with. He understands—probably better than anyone—the capabilities that JPMorgan Chase needs to sustain its position in the global financial marketplace. And he understands equally well the skills that students need to get a job with the company, and to help develop and deploy the technology that will secure its leadership. He’s committed to getting Delaware students into these jobs, and getting them equipped with what they need to thrive in them.

I thank Dean Weber for hosting us this morning, and for signing on as the partnership’s program director. I know he’ll ensure that UD’s full energy and effort are fueling this enterprise.

I thank everyone in the Lerner College and the College of Engineering for partnering in this really exciting initiative. It’s a natural opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration, and I know that collaboration is already happening.

Of course, I thank all of you for coming out today, especially Lieutenant Governor Denn and Senator Coons. They understand that a partnership like this is an incredible asset to Delaware’s workforce development efforts and can significantly strengthen the state’s technology sector. They know this is a model for the sort of academic/industry collaboration that trains students in emerging fields while filling industry needs, and provides a platform for joint work going forward.

JPMC Innovation Center
As you know, this Innovation Center is just one component of our nearly two-year-old partnership with JPMorgan Chase. But it’s an important one—a physical space that signals our collaboration, provides a dedicated site for joint research and meetings, and offers on-campus work experience for students. This Center shows that we value this partnership, that we’re institutionalizing it, that we’re putting investment and infrastructure behind it.

About a year-and-a-half ago, I went up to the JPMorgan Chase offices in Wilmington to meet the UD alums who work there, and to talk up this relationship. I should mention that all five of our first-year Global Enterprise Technology interns were there, too—and they were very impressive. I spoke to well over 100 employees, and I ticked off all the things we planned to come of this new collaboration—things that we’ve now put in place: the GET curriculum and minor at UD and the immersion internships at the company; joint research in areas like operational efficiency and database optimization; a JPMorgan Chase speaker series.

The last thing I mentioned was real estate—a focal point for our collaboration, and a space to grow it. I’m so glad this important element is now a reality.

JPMC Partnership & the Path to Prominence
Going into this partnership with JPMorgan Chase wasn’t a difficult decision. We’d seen their success at Syracuse University, and wanted the same opportunities for our students.

The relationship also aligned perfectly with our strategic plan, the Path to Prominence. The plan is predicated on some basic principles: That we’ll apply our strengths and resources to benefit Delaware and Delawareans. That we’ll create partnerships fostering economic and community development. That we’ll engage ourselves and our students in the biggest challenges of our age, that we’ll serve the needs of the state, the nation, and the world, and ensure that our ideas and expertise have a significant impact around the globe.

But all of this—partnership, engagement, impact—requires transforming the undergraduate experience. It requires an absolute commitment to problem-based learning; getting students out of the classroom and into the real world; giving them authentic, meaningful experiences, and the chance to apply their classroom learning to legitimate, long-term projects—projects that draw on deep systems knowledge, as well as strategic thinking, innovative problem-solving, virtual communication and collaboration.

It’s simple: We can’t prepare students for 21st Century jobs if we don’t partner with the companies creating them. And companies can’t continue to compete globally without a workforce ready to go from Day 1.

We’ve got such a valuable asset in our own backyard. We have graduates stepping off our campus and into one of the world’s largest financial services firms. But the learning curve in a place like JPMorgan Chase is steep. And, especially now, there’s simply no excuse for universities graduating students who aren’t ready for it. Several JPMorgan Chase executives have told us they need entry-level employees who can marry their content capabilities with the reality of working in a large, tech-driven company.

We all know that the move from classroom to corporation is daunting. Factor in the kind of large-scale information systems that companies like JPMorgan Chase rely on; factor in the complex, global environment in which they operate, and you have a situation that requires just this sort of partnership.

And it’s the give-and-take of this partnership that’s really exciting. Just as valuable as the education and internships strengthening students’ competitiveness is the collaborative research we’re undertaking that will strengthen the financial services industry as a whole. We’ve got renowned faculty on this campus whose work with the company will inform its operations and efficiencies; shape our business and engineering curricula; enhance our teaching; and bring students fully into the world of problem-applied research.

I don’t doubt that this Center will be Ground Zero for some incredible innovations in the technology sector—innovations that have a life far beyond the partners sponsoring them; innovations that can influence the fundamentals of how and how well we work.

We have a chance to lead here—locally and globally. We really are at the intersection of industry and education, and it’s a great place to be. I thank everyone who’s helped us get here, everyone who’s going to take the partnership further—expanding our collaboration and the students benefiting from it.

Introduction of Kevin Heithaus
Now, speaking of students benefiting … I’m honored to introduce you to Kevin Heithaus. Kevin is a senior Management Information Systems major and Computer Science minor. He spent the summer of 2010 as an Application Development Analyst in Chase Card Services.

He must have done well, because JPMorgan Chase then hired him as a 2011 Global Enterprise Technology intern. He’s now working in the company’s Asset Management business. And, following his graduation this spring, he’ll go to work full-time with JPMC.

Clearly, this partnership has worked out pretty well for Kevin, and I’d like him to share his experience. Please welcome Kevin Heithaus.

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