Hullihen Hall

Office of the
Vice President and University Secretary

University of Delaware Board of Trustees 2013

Current Officer Biographies


A. Gilchrist Sparks III is of counsel in the Wilmington law firm of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell. He graduated from Yale University in 1966 and then served on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, including a tour in Vietnam. He earned his law degree from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1973. Mr. Sparks is Chairman of the Corporate Laws Committee of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and the American Bar Foundation, and is a member of both the American Law Institute and the Board of Advisors of the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Law and Economics. Mr. Sparks is also a former chairman of the Delaware State Board of Bar Examiners. Co–author of Delaware Corporation Law and Practice and The Delaware Corporation: Legal Aspects of Organization and Operation, Mr. Sparks serves on the executive and planning committees of various national corporate and securities law institutes, and is a former member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Mr. Sparks was elected to the University of Delaware Board of Trustees in 2003 and was elected chair in 2009. Previously he served as Chair of the Trustee Committee on Academic Affairs and the Audit Visiting Committee, and also served on the Trustee Committee on Finance, the Nominating Committee, the Executive Committee and the Athletics Visiting Committee. As chair, Mr. Sparks appoints all Board committees, and he chairs the Executive and Compensation Committees and serves as ex officio on all Board committees.

Vice Chair

John R. Cochran started his financial career in 1973 in credit card banking and was a senior member of the management team that established MBNA in 1982. He was the chief operating officer of MBNA Corporation and chairman and chief executive officer of its principal subsidiary, MBNA America Bank. As head of business development at MBNA for more than 20 years, Mr. Cochran was responsible for gaining the endorsement of nearly 5,000 organizations, ranging from the National Education Association and Ducks Unlimited to NASCAR and Merrill Lynch. MBNA merged with Bank of America in January 2006. He retired from the bank in February 2008.

A graduate of Loyola University Maryland, Mr. Cochran developed the endorsed marketing concept that led to MBNA becoming one of the country’s largest direct marketers, with more than 40 million customers worldwide. He oversaw the growth of a regional credit card portfolio into one of the largest loan programs in the world.

Mr. Cochran is a member of the Board of Trustees of Loyola University Maryland and Christiana Care Health System. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Delaware Council for Economic Education and the Wilmington Country Club. He serves on the Stella Maris Advisory Board, Baltimore, Maryland.

Vice Chair

Mary Jane Willis holds a B.S. from West Virginia Wesleyan College and a M.A. from West Virginia University. As an educator she has experience as a Guidance Counselor, a Diversified Cooperative Training Coordinator, and a teacher of the Gifted and Talented. She is an active member of Asbury United Methodist Church. Mary Jane holds a number of public service positions including Chairman of KidsPeace National Board; Chairman of Bayhealth Hospital Board of Advisors, Vice Chairman of Hope Medical Clinic; Director of Bayhealth Hospital Board; and member of West Virginia Wesleyan Board of Trustees. Other community and public service activities have included Delaware State Chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, Chairman of the Delaware State Public Integrity Commission, Co–Chair of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of the Delaware United Way Board, President of Delta Kappa Gamma, President of American Association of University Women, Trustee of the Children's Beach House, member of the Delaware Community Foundation Board, Delaware Environmental Appeals Board, DE Division American Cancer Society Board, Kent General Hospital Board, Kent General Hospital Foundation Board, West Virginia Wesleyan College National President's Advisory Board, University of Delaware Parent Board, Dartmouth College Parent Board, and co–chaired the Washington College Parent Board. She attended the U.S. Army War College National Security Seminar. Mary Jane and her husband, Bill, own Willis Chevrolet Buick, Willis Ford and Middletown Automotive. They received the 2012 Hope Clinic Distinguished Service Award and the Del–Mar–Va District, Boy Scouts of America 2012 Distinguished Citizens Award. Mary Jane and Bill reside in Smyrna and have four married children and five grandchildren: Blair & Lori Willis; Isaac & Christy, Brooke and Mason Willis; Lincoln & Laura and Deane Willis; and Whitney & Jonathan, Savannah and Wyatt Snow.


Carey M. Koppenhaver is the former Director of Development at St. Anne's Episcopal School in Middletown, Delaware. She is a graduate of St. Andrew's School, holds a BA in English from the University of Delaware, Class of 1994, and received her Master of Arts in English Literature from Washington College in 1998. Prior to her work at St. Anne's, Mrs. Koppenhaver served as Assistant Director of Admissions and taught English at West Nottingham Academy, a boarding high school in Maryland, and also taught English at St. Thomas More Academy in Dover. She has served on both the Alumni Board and Board of Trustees of St. Andrew's School, and is currently a member of the Colonial Dames of America. A lifelong Delawarean, Ms. Koppenhaver resides in Lewes with her children, Emma and Alex.