University President Patrick Harker addresses the Board of Trustees.

Trustees meet

Harker provides Path to Prominence update to UD Board of Trustees

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9:30 a.m., Dec. 14, 2012--University of Delaware President Patrick Harker discussed progress the campus has made in implementing initiatives outlined in the Path to Prominence strategic plan during the Board of Trustees’ semiannual meeting held Tuesday, Dec. 11, in the Trabant University Center.

Based on five guiding principles -- Delaware First, Diversity, Partnership, Engagement and Impact -- the strategic plan identifies six milestones for responding to major challenges on campus and in the world.

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The milestones are for UD to provide a diverse and stimulating undergraduate academic environment, to become a premier research and graduate university, to offer excellence in professional education, to undertake an initiative for the planet and also a global initiative, and to be an engaged university.

“In May, 2013, we’ll celebrate the five-year anniversary of our strategic plan,” Harker said. “And while that anniversary will bring a more robust accounting of the goals we’ve made good on, and those we still need to achieve, today I’ll give a broad interim update as far as where we stand on the Path.” 

In meeting the first milestone of providing a diverse and stimulating undergraduate experience, he cited two metrics used to measure progress.

“This year we had the most freshmen applicants ever, nearly 27,000, up six percent over 2008,” Harker said. 

One of the challenges faced by UD is becoming a community that more reflects the greater community in terms of diversity among its members, Harker said.

“We have to continue to prioritize diversity,” Harker said. “We have to attract, admit and enroll more diverse students.” 

Efforts to meet these initiatives include the creation of the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Diversity and Equity Commission, the Center for the Study of Diversity and the President’s Diversity Initiative, Harker said.

“The Middle States Commission called us out on faculty diversity among the entire faculty, and on gender diversity in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects,” Harker said. “We’ve begun tackling the first challenge and we’ll need to ramp up efforts on the second.”

Harker said UD has enjoyed considerable success on the next milestone of growing UD’s reputation as a premier research and graduate university.

Making the list of the top 100 universities in federal research and development obligations during the 2011 fiscal year evidences UD commitment to this goal, Harker said.

“This is our faculty at work,” he said. “We’ve been aggressive in faculty recruitment, and it’s paid off.” 

Meeting the next milestone, achieving excellence in professional education, includes enhancing and expanding offerings that help professionals meet increasingly complex career challenges, Harker said.

“This spring the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics will launch its online MBA program to meet the workforce where it is,” Harker said. “It will help to deliver high-quality business education in a flexible format, which a growing number of students require.”

The initiative for the planet represents UD’s pledge to be a resource for environmental research and education and to model the best sustainability practices, he said.

“In some ways, this is a natural for UD,” Harker said. “We’ve long been a leader in environmental research and technology.” 

The fifth milestone, extending UD’s impact through a global initiative, seeks to help students understand the world around them and prepare them to engage in global citizenship.

New initiatives include bringing UD’s study abroad programs into alignment with the Standards of Good Practice for short- term programs. 

“We’ve reduced multi-country, multi-site programs that rely on leisure and tourist activities in favor of those focused on rigorous academic content,” Harker said. “The proposal process itself is more rigorous, requiring a syllabus, a day-to-day itinerary, and academic justification for each excursion.”

The pledge to be an engaged university, the sixth milestone, challenges the University to be a force for good for the state and its people, and to help UD fulfill its mission as a land-grant university, Harker said. 

“One of the most important ways that we have served the people of Delaware is opening their access to a world-class education,” Harker said. “We are Delaware’s flagship university, and Delawareans deserve to be a presence here.”

In addition to the Commitment to Delawareans, which combines an academic blueprint for high school students with financial support, Harker cited the contributions to the First State through service learning projects engaged in by UD students. 

“Volunteering actually proves profitable for Delaware,” Harker said. “Our service activities contributed more than $11 million to the state’s economy last year, created 115 Delaware jobs, and provided labor that otherwise would have cost $2.6 million.” 

Harker also noted efforts of University Development in securing $61.2 million from donors in FY 2012, exceeding the Trustees’ goal by $10 million and posting the second consecutive year of record-setting private support.

“We’re not there yet. We didn’t plan to be in five years, but four and a half years of very hard work by everyone in this room — and thousands more outside it — has brought us closer to our goals than I thought possible in such a short time. I’m incredibly grateful for your work, for your faith in the mission, and your commitment to the Path.”

 Also at the meeting, Interim Provost Nancy Brickhouse highlighted recent achievement and new appointments of UD faculty and administrators.

Board action

At the meeting, trustees approved resolutions

• Awarding an honorary degree to Lawrence Probst, UD alumnus and chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, at Winter Commencement on Jan. 6; 

• Disestablishing the Department of Bioresources Engineering by Sept. 1, 2016, in keeping with the recommendation of the Faculty Senate;

• Establishing a new 4+1 Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education/Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies: Early Childhood Leadership Concentration in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies;

• Granting permanent status to the International Business Studies major and to the Educational Specialist Program in School Psychology;

• Approving the Decision Analysis Concentration for the Department of Food and Resource Economics M.S. degree, beginning fall 2012;

• Approving changes in the class meeting schedule to allow for the addition of 75-minute classes that meet twice a week by scheduling them Monday/Wednesday, Wednesday/Friday and Monday/Friday; and

• Authorizing the president to confer degrees at Winter Commencement Jan. 6. 

Trustees also re-elected two members -- Thomas J. Burns and Carey M. Koppenhaver -- to six-year terms.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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