UD President Patrick Harker discusses the Middle States accreditation process at the spring meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Trustees meet

Reaccreditation, Class of 2015 among board meeting highlights

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3:24 p.m., May 11, 2011--Reaccreditation and a look at the Class of 2015 highlighted presentations made during the semiannual meeting of the University of Delaware’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday, May 10, in the Trabant University Center.

University President Patrick Harker gave trustees a detailed account of UD’s recent reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which found UD to be in compliance with all 14 standards.

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“The process was extremely valuable,” Harker said. “Many of our own findings from our self-study and our Path to ProminenceTM review were echoed by the Middle States evaluation team, led by Carnegie Mellon University President Jared Cohon.”

Harker said UD asked evaluators to look at some of the key milestones at the heart of UD’s education mission, including providing a diverse and stimulating undergraduate experience, a premier research and graduate university and striving for excellence in professional education. 

“The Middle States reviewers acknowledged that a strategic plan as bold as ours needs infrastructure that enables its achievement,” Harker said. “They credited part of that infrastructure, responsibility-based budgeting, with catalyzing as much change on campus as the Path to Prominence.”

While reviewers noted that this budgeting system is a mechanism for empowering deans, directors, chairs and faculty, it also represents a big change for the University’s previous highly centralized budget system.

“We need to be clear that there won’t be a trade-off between generating revenue, sustaining academic quality and providing public service,” Harker said. “We need to be sensitive to faculty concerned about their role in a research-intensive university and to be faithful communicators, transparent in our decision-making.”

The Middle States report also indicated that UD must improve diversity among students, faculty and staff, Harker said. 

“In a remarkably positive report, diversity drew the starkest words from the evaluators, who said, ‘with few exceptions, the University trails its peers in every measure of diversity in every constituency of the institution,’” Harker said. “We have to change that.”

Evaluators also suggested that the University pay attention to the richness and coherence of its Honors Program, especially at its upper levels, and that it strengthen its First Year Experience, making it more uniform and more integrated across the University, Harker said.

Law school

Harker also updated trustees on the status of the internal study regarding a law school at UD.

“In December, you, the Board, authorized the preparation of two analyses required for the establishment of a law school: a draft feasibility study and a draft business plan,” Harker said. “Since then, a team of University officials has conducted a thorough analysis to determine whether a law school would contribute to UD and to the community, and whether its cost is manageable, given the University’s other priorities.”

The task force, chaired by Lawrence White, UD vice president and general counsel, concluded that the start up-costs and projected operating expense, costs any top-flight law school must bear, would raise concerns given current priorities.

“While I acknowledge the benefits to be gained by a UD law school, benefits that the last several months of analysis have illuminated, I have proposed to the Board that we terminate further active consideration of this initiative,” Harker said. “There is the possibility that we could reconsider a law school at some future date, but only if its establishment can be achieved without displacing existing University priorities.” 

Class of 2015

Trustees also got a preview of the Class of 2015 from Louis Hirsh, UD director of admissions, who said that the incoming freshman class -- 3,880 students have accepted admission as of May 10 -- would be both the largest and most accomplished class in the UD’s history.

Hirsh also noted that academically stronger students applied in greater numbers than before, and academically weaker students stopped applying. 

“Last year, 53 percent of the fall 2010 freshman class had combined verbal and math SATs of 1200 or higher,” Hirsh said. “As of this morning, that percentage is 61 percent for the fall 2011 class, and for our out-of-state students it has climbed 9 percent. That is a difference that will be felt in the classrooms of every freshman course this fall.” 

Drawn from 34 states and the District of Columbia, and from as far away as Hawaii, California, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, the class also represents 18 foreign countries. Also encouraging is that 661 students of color are represented, a nearly 10 percent increase over last year.

Helping the admissions process this year, Hirsh said, were new print materials and “some of the most engaging videos you’ll ever see on YouTube.”

“We wrote to students and we wrote to parents, and we never stopped communicating with them,” Hirsh said. “We packaged our applicants aggressively with financial aid, and for the first time we included a financial aid notification in every admission packet that we mailed in March.” 

In connection with Student Financial Services, admissions set up a call center just for admitted students, staffed from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., weekdays, from mid-March to May.

In presenting this preview of the Class of 2015 to the Board, Hirsh also thanked his colleagues on the Admissions Committee.

“As you can see, this has been a very good year for admissions,” Hirsh said. “My colleagues and I are mindful of the unflagging support we have received from each other, from our colleagues across campus, and from the University’s leadership, and from our boss, Peggy Bottorff (associate provost).”

Provost's report

University Provost Tom Apple recognized the achievement of UD students and faculty who have distinguished themselves since the board’s last meeting.

Apple also noted the appointment, effective Sept. 1, of Bruce Weber, as the new dean of the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. An authority on information technology, Weber currently serves as a top administrator of London Business School. 

Board action

The Board of Trustees approved new rates effective with the fall semester, including an average annual increase of 6 percent for the University's traditional residence hall rooms. 

Also approved was a 5.5 percent increase in the University dining plan rates, also effective for the fall semester. 

The Comprehensive Fee will be increased from $225 to $395 per semester for full-time students, from $25 to $50 per winter and summer sessions for full-time students for each semester and session in which they are enrolled. The Student Center Fee will be increased from $116 to $119 per semester for full time students.

As of June 1, the Student Health Service feel will increase from $243 to $247 per semester. The Winter Session health fee will be increased from $64 to $65, and the summer semester fee will be increased from $87 to $88. Other fees will be increased by an average of 1.6 percent.

In other action, the trustees approved an honorary degree to be conferred upon Carol Ammon, founder and retired chief executive officer and chairman of Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., at the May 28 Commencement.

The Board also approved honorary degrees for:

  • Simmie Knox, who studied at the University of Delaware and painted the official portrait of President Bill Clinton; and 
  • Donald J. Puglisi, MBNA America Professor Emeritus of Business. A longtime benefactor of the University, Puglisi joined the faculty in 1971 and was a beloved member of the Department of Finance, influencing many students who consider him a mentor.

In other action, the board re-elected trustees Howard Cosgrove and Christopher Schell to six-year terms and elected Grace Bennett to serve a one-year term as a recent graduate trustee, replacing Teagan Gregory. The board also re-elected its officers for a one-year term: A. Gilchrist Sparks III, chairman; John R. Cochran and Mary Jane Willis, both vice chairs; and Carey M. Koppenhaver, secretary-treasurer. 

  

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Evan Krape

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