Cultural diversity in all areas, including faculty hiring and student admissions, remains a primary and sustained focus at UD, UD President Patrick Harker says.

Board of Trustees

Trustees learn of diversity initiatives, construction projects at semiannual meeting

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5:10 p.m., May 9, 2012--Progress on University of Delaware diversity initiatives, a preview of the Class of 2016 and a look at campus construction were discussed by UD President Patrick Harker during the semiannual meeting of the University's Board of Trustees on Tuesday, May 8, in the Trabant University Center.

The University continues to attract extraordinary students, Harker said, including the nearly 4,000 who will graduate at the 163rd Commencement on Saturday, May 26, in Delaware Stadium.

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“It’s my best day on the job,” Harker said. “I hope to see many of you there.” 

Harker said that the University’s academic rigor and academic innovation continue to attract the top students to UD. “That’s a tribute to our faculty,” he said. “Faculty drive the quality of our programming, the competitiveness of our research and the desirability of our students.”

Diversity efforts

Cultivating diversity in all areas, including faculty hiring and student admissions, remains a primary and sustained focus at UD, Harker said. 

“Bringing more diverse faculty to UD does have a ripple effect, because academics see an institutional commitment to inclusion,” Harker said. “Applicants see themselves in their prospective teachers and mentors, and the UD community opens and broadens and diversity grows.”

Harker said that the recently created President’s Diversity Initiative put out a call for proposals to faculty on increasing the presence of underrepresented faculty, staff and students and improving the understanding of issues related to diversity. 

“These projects will be implemented this fall and the grantees will share the results of their work with the campus community,” Harker said. “These homegrown efforts -- combined with our current programs and services -- will make UD the inclusive institution we want to be.”

Harker also noted that the Center for the Study of Diversity headed up a search for two senior faculty appointments in the College of Arts and Sciences and an affiliation with the center.

“There was a huge and talented candidate field for the positions, with 400-plus applicants,” Harker said. 

Campus report

Harker highlighted significant campus construction designed to meet the University’s strategic plan goals, including maximizing research capacity and encouraging interdisciplinary scholarship. 

“The Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory is our first new academic building since the Roselle Center for the Arts was completed in 2006,” Harker said. “Our world-class research, conducted right there on site, will provide course content, and students will learn through exploration of real-world problems. We can’t wait to cut the ribbon.”

Significant campus construction projects described by Harker also included the Life Sciences Research Facility, renovation of Alison Hall and a pair of five-story East Campus residence halls that will be a future home to nearly 800 student residents. 

Harker also briefed trustees on the 45,000-square foot addition to the Carpenter Sports Building and the recently renamed Science, Technology and Advanced Research, or STAR, campus.

The 272-acre site, which formerly housed the Chrysler auto plant, recently got its first major tenant, the Bloom Energy Manufacturing Center. 

On April 30, Delaware’s Congressional delegation and local government, business and community and UD leaders and community members joined with Bloom Energy in a formal groundbreaking ceremony. 

“It’s a celebration of manufacturing strength, when that sector is hurting so badly nationwide,” Harker said. “It’s also a celebration of clean-energy leadership, the University’s and Bloom’s.”

Harker also recognized longtime UD administrators who are leaving the University, including Peter Hayward, who is retiring as vice president and University secretary effective June 1.

“Pete’s service to UD and the Board, his loyalty to this University, its people and its ambitions, will be deeply missed,” Harker said. “I’m so grateful I’ve had the opportunity to work with him, and to know him not only as a colleague but also as a friend.” 

Louis Hirsh, who is retiring as the end of the 2011-12 academic year, also was recognized by Harker for his 28 years of service, including the last nine years as director of admissions at UD. 

“Lou gives us the statistics one has to give, the SAT scores, the GPAs and the demographics,” Harker said. “But it’s all just prelude to the stories -- the oboe player, the first-generation college student, the athlete and the math-lete.” 

Harker also thanked Robin Morgan for her 10 years of service as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). Morgan is stepping down from her position as dean at the end of the current academic year and will return to the CANR faculty.

“Under Robin’s leadership, the college’s mission grew to encompass agriculture’s role in the most critical issues of our day -- energy and the environment, health, food sustainability and global responsibility,” Harker said. "The college became a leader in finding innovative solutions to the resource problems we confront locally and internationally.” 

The Class of 2016

As he has done for many years, Hirsh gave board members a glimpse at UD’s newest students, who will be arriving this fall to start their adventure as members of the Class of 2016.

“The first two ‘guiding principles” of the Path to Prominence are Delaware first and diversity, Hirsh said. “This year, the admissions committee made exciting progress in advancing both of these goals.” 

Hirsh said that as of May 8, some 1,287 Delawareans had accepted an offer of UD admission, a 14 percent increase over last year.

Among the major factors driving this increase in First State residents choosing a UD education, Hirsh said, can be credited to the University’s Commitment to Delawareans.

Hirsh told the board that the number of black students in the freshman class increased from 157 in 2011 to 242 students for the coming fall, and the number of Hispanic students rose from 256 in 2011 to 287 students for the coming academic year.

“To express these numbers in a different way, when the Class of 2016 comes to UD this August, nearly 20 percent of the students will be students of color whose heritages are Asian, Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Pacific Islander,” Hirsh said. “And this is only part of a larger tapestry of diverse talent, geography, life experiences, religious heritages and socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Hirsh said the UD was on target to admit 3,850 students from the record pool of 26,683 applicants. 

Hirsh and Hayward both were honored with special resolutions from the Board of Trustees that recognized their contributions to UD, and both men received a long and spirited standing ovation from the board and the guest attendees.

Provost's report

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

Board actions

The trustees passed several resolutions, including:

  • Changing the names of the Department of Women's Studies to the Department of Women and Gender Studies; the Department of Medical Technology to the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences; and the Department of Food and Resource Economics to the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics;
  • Establishing a new graduate certificate in health coaching;
  • Increasing the dining plan rates by an average of 5.5 percent and the residence hall rates by an average of 5.5 percent, effective with the fall semester; and
  • Authorizing the president to confer degrees at Commencement on May 26.

The trustees also re-elected its officers for one-year terms and re-elected two trustees: Sherman Townsend for a six-year term ending May 2018 and Grace Bennett for a one-year term ending May 2013.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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