President, provost update faculty on initiatives

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3:48 p.m., Oct. 7, 2010----University of Delaware President Patrick Harker discussed the quality of new faculty hires and the growing recognition of research achievements at UD during the semiannual General Faculty Meeting held Monday, Oct. 4, in Gore Hall.

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“We have been aggressive in faculty hiring because faculty talent is an essential precursor to academy quality,” Harker said. “This is the only way we'll continue improving our programs and strengthening our impact.”

Harker lauded faculty productivity as being responsible for the rising prominence of UD as evidenced by national and world recognition of its graduate programs.

“Last week, the National Research Council (NRC) ranked five of our Ph.D. programs as being among the best in the county,” Harker said. “We also had several more programs ranked in the top tier for student support and outcomes.”

World rankings included a No.72 ranking in North America by the Times [London] Higher Education Report and a No. 8 ranking in a U.S. News & World Report survey of colleges worth watching by top college leaders.

Harker also said UD's designation as the epicenter of national politics continues, with UD serving as a backdrop for CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and the network broadcast of the Oct. 13 debate between U.S. Senate candidates Republican Christine O'Donnell and Democrat Chris Coons.

“With the UD Center for Political Communication, we're coalescing thought around how we elect our leaders, and about the role of the new digital media in political campaigns and elections worldwide,” Harker said. “Long after the mid-term elections are decided, we'll be shaping the conversation on the political process both here and abroad.”

Faculty Senate meeting

During the regular Faculty Senate meeting, which followed the General Faculty Meeting, UD Provost Tom Apple reiterated the need to enhance student writing and oral communication initiatives.

“Last Tuesday, when we had the Race to Deliver-Vision 2015 Leadership Forum, Lillian Lowery [Delaware's secretary of education] talked about the moral imperative of transforming underperforming schools,” Apple said. “I think that we, as a University, have a moral imperative to make sure that our students have the ability to use the language well in oral and written communications.”

Apple said that proficiency in these areas helps insure success in career advancement and professional development in academic and business circles.

“I know in my own personal life, that written and oral skills were important for writing grant proposals and papers that journals would want to publish,” Apple said. “Those kinds of things are really important to our careers, and they are going to be important for all our students, as well.”

Complementing this enhancement of student writing and oral communication, Apple said, is a more comprehensive approach to faculty evaluation procedures.

Apple also stressed the need to support high school students interested in science and engineering and to retain such students at the college level.

“If you are going to be successful in engineering and the sciences, you have to have a very good grounding in mathematics,” Apple said. “I would recommend that students in these disciplines earn at least a C-minus in those courses that faculty consider necessary for success.”

Senate action

Senators approved a resolution to replace the University's 1979 Academic Freedom Statement.

Minutes of the Oct. 4 Faculty Senate meeting are available on the senate's website.

The next meeting of the UD Faculty Senate will be held at 4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 1, in Room 104 of Gore Hall.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

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