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.
Office of Management & Budget Hearing
Tatnall Building, Dover
November 29, 2010
It’s great to be here to discuss the University’s FY12 operating and capital budget requests.
I’m here toward the end of an extraordinary fall for UD, one that’s seen our academic profile rise dramatically. Last month, UD Professor Emeritus Richard Heck shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his groundbreaking work in carbon-atom bonding. Prof. Heck’s research has transformed organic chemistry and, in the process, revolutionized a range of industries—from pharmaceuticals to electronics.
It’s a great example of faculty excellence building program excellence. And, with this excellence in mind, we’re growing an internationally prominent faculty body, whose talent attracts more of the same. Five of our faculty won Fulbrights in 2010, placing UD among the most awarded universities nationwide—tied with Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, and UC Davis.
The National Research Council just ranked five of our doctoral programs among the best in the country. And in a recent U.S. News survey of college presidents and provosts, UD was named a top-ten “up-and-coming” university.
Then, just last week, we got word that senior Matt Watters was among thirty-two U.S. students to win a Rhodes scholarship. Matt’s a neuroscience major and political science minor who’s already done extensive medical and public health work in Sudan and Haiti. He’s exactly the kind of student we hope to develop at UD—one committed equally to academic excellence and public service.
When Matt talked about the award, he credited UD, saying the University had provided him so many opportunities to grow, academically and personally. This is the education we want for every Delaware student. And, more and more, it’s the kind of education they’re taking advantage of.
Commitment to Delawareans
This fall, we enrolled 1,191 Delaware freshmen at the Newark campus—more than 35 percent of the incoming freshman class, a nearly 4-percentage-point climb over last year. These Delawareans are part of the most academically accomplished class in UD’s history. In GPAs, SATs, and class ranks, this fall’s incoming students outpaced every class before them. In all, 89 percent of in-state applicants were offered admission—either to the Newark campus or to our Associate in Arts program at Georgetown, Dover, or Wilmington.
Our success in admitting and enrolling in-state students is clearly a factor of our Commitment to Delawareans, a program that opens resident students’ access to a UD education in two ways. The academic component better prepares them for the UD curriculum by outlining a competitive high school course load and expected course grades. If they complete this high school roadmap, they’re in. And the aid component—which kicked in last year—opens their access financially. It’s our pledge to meet all in-state students’ full demonstrated financial need—up to the full cost of tuition, room & board, books, and fees—and to cap their debt upon graduation.
Given the still-struggling economy, this pledge has made college possible for scores of deserving Delaware students and eased the financial burden on their families.
In FY12, we expect that about 2,000 in-state students will share in the funding made available through the Commitment to Delawareans. That number includes 60 percent of the 1,250 Delaware freshmen we expect to enroll next fall. A full quarter of our tuition revenue goes directly to financial aid and, next year, the cost of providing that aid to Delaware freshmen will exceed what we project to be an incremental tuition increase.
Therefore, to fulfill this Commitment to Delawareans—which we’ve said many times is our driving priority—we’ll need to make cuts to our operating budget.
Per the FY12 Operating and Capital Budget Preparation Guidelines, you’ll see no growth in our operating budget submission for FY12. Our only official funding request is for the FY11 Personnel Cost contingency—that is, to restore to our operations line the 2.5-percent FY10 pay cut.
We also ask for removal of the epilogue language stating that $500,000 for pass-through programs be directly funded through our Operations appropriation, and that sufficient funding be returned to the pass-through programs.
Given the projected loss of federal stabilization funds this coming fiscal year, we already anticipate having to reduce our operating budget by $9.9m in FY12.
And, again, we ask for flexibility in the management of State resources. We’d like to consolidate several special line appropriations at the college level to maximize the University’s academic, research, and public-service benefit, and to secure the flexibility we’ll need to fund various priorities—like our Commitment to Delawareans.
Should additional funds become available, we’d appreciate State support for this Commitment, which is clearly a critically important program to both Delaware and to the University.
We’ve also identified Library books and materials as a funding priority should State funds become available.
As you know, the University is undertaking on its own a major capital investment program, encompassing academic, research, teaching, housing, and auxiliary facilities.
Current and planned projects include a new University bookstore on Newark’s Main Street; five new residence halls; a new dining hall; a new basketball & volleyball facility; an Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Lab; and renovations to administrative and athletic facilities campus-wide. The majority of these projects will be funded through revenue bonds.
However, continued partnership with the State will allow us to address capital projects not traditionally bond-funded. We have two such capital funding priorities.
Alison Hall is a 56-year-old building in the center of campus whose last upgrades were undertaken 40 years ago. It requires major renovations to remain functional. We’re requesting $4.65m this year for the $17.3m project—one that will create several high-paying jobs for Delawareans and keep one of UD’s primary academic facilities operational.
Our second priority is the redevelopment of the former Chrysler Newark Assembly Plant into a major science and technology campus. We’re grateful for the $2m allocated this fiscal year for the campus, and we know the State considers this a critical priority for stimulating and sustaining Delaware’s economic growth. We’re requesting $5m to continue these important redevelopment efforts.
We understand that operating and capital budgets have steadily declined in recent years. We understand the state’s fiscal constraints as recovery remains slow and budget gaps persist. And we understand that the State faces many competing priorities.
However, I think we agree that UD is a major economic engine for the entire State, and that we have an opportunity now to transform our local and regional economies. UD’s research capacity, our entrepreneurial ethos, and our commitment to academic and industry partnerships are exactly the things that will revolutionize economic development and drive unprecedented growth.
And we’re making huge strides in all three areas. UD’s competitive grant & contract funding totaled $181m last year, a nearly $20m jump over the year before, and double the external expenditures of a decade ago. We’ve made the top 100 universities for federal R&D obligations.
Our invention disclosures and patent filings are up sharply, and—among universities without a medical school—we’re now in the top 20 percent in licensing income, and the top 25 percent in patents issued.
Plus, significant regional partnerships are expanding our reach and economic-development potential. Our partnership with the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground has yielded 18 joint research projects in emerging information and defense technologies. And the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance with Thomas Jefferson, Christiana Care, and Nemours is catalyzing breakthrough biomedical research and biotech development; coordinated biosciences education; and better healthcare delivery.
And in all of this—in research innovation, in the cultivation of entrepreneurship, in knowledge-based partnerships—the science and technology campus is our way forward. It’s the space we need for growth and collaboration. It’s where we’ll join our intellectual and capital assets. It’s where we’ll develop the technologies that create new industries that grow new jobs that power a new economy.
And in this mission, we need the State’s help. Because true economic recovery isn’t consumption-based; it’s innovation-based. True recovery—here in Delaware and across the country—will come only with a deep structural adjustment, where we become better at taking ideas out of our universities and research institutes, commercializing them, and allowing them to flourish.
To a large degree, government involvement in this process—in the focusing and funneling of resources to new industry development—will determine how successful we are, and how prosperous we’ll be.
We already know that UD’s proved a good investment for the State. Every State dollar invested in the University returns nearly $10 to Delaware’s economy. We’re working closely with the State to create new jobs in Delaware, and to bring new jobs to Delaware.
And yet I do understand the difficulty of investing in the future when confronted with immediate needs. But that’s the proposition we face—along with every other university and every other state in the nation.
And it remains true that investment in higher education, generally—and in UD, specifically—will yield strong and sustained economic growth.
We’re fortunate that we have a Governor who understands that, and who’s committed to innovation as the vehicle to a vigorous, vibrant economy.
I’m happy to take your questions.