President's Report 2021

Creating Leaders
for Today and Tomorrow

The University of Delaware cultivates leaders who are thoughtful, inclusive and creative, whether they are working in small communities or on the world stage. Learn more about UD’s drive for leadership in the stories below. 

Congratulations, President Joe Biden!:

Blue Hens lead from the White House

Culminating a lifetime in public service, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (Class of 1965) took his University of Delaware education all the way to the White House to become the 46th President of the United States.  


Holding the family Bible upon which President Biden took the Oath of Office at his Inauguration was First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from UD. 

The Bidens demonstrated the enduring and transformative power of a University of Delaware education to help our alumni make sense of our complex society, develop the essential skills of democratic citizenship and address the pervasive issues of racism, inequality and injustice.

Indeed, many other successful Blue Hens are working alongside President Biden, serving as domestic and foreign policy advisors, political strategists, administrators and communications experts throughout the federal government.

Former Vice President of the United States, UD alumni, and head of a new eponymous institute  in the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), Joe Biden, meets with the outgoing heads of the Student Government Association at Caesar Rodney Dining Hall before walking the Green to Graham Hall for a meeting with the SPPA. - (Evan Krape / University of Delaware)

Biden School focuses on solving critical public policy challenges

Imagine any initiative to improve society — in health care, agriculture, transportation, technology, the workplace, schools and more. Now consider how quickly it fails without a clear, fair and feasible public policy to guide its implementation.


That’s why the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware is committed to researching good governance and preparing students for successful public-service careers.

“Public policy is not limited to the walls of Washington, D.C.,” said John Cohill, a junior public policy major. “Public policy is about creating change that benefits the greater good, and that is important in every business, every organization, every school. So this degree program opens doors and allows you to establish valuable connections.”

Formed more than 50 years ago and acquiring its current name in 2018, the Biden School is a national leader in using an interdisciplinary, nonpartisan and collaborative approach to help address society’s critical challenges.

“It is hard to overstate just what a tremendous impact the school has,” said Elizabeth Lockman, who earned her master’s in urban affairs and public policy from UD in 2015 and now serves in the Delaware State Senate, as well as adjunct teaching in the Biden School. “It has always been like that, but now it has a name that accurately projects the magnitude of what can happen in that division of the University.”

The mission of the Biden School is more important than ever today, said Dean Maria Aristigueta.

“We are living in a critical moment in modern history,” said Aristigueta, the Charles P. Messick Chair of Public Administration. “The challenges of dual pandemics — COVID-19 and racial inequities — serve to highlight the need to work to improve the quality of life in communities in the region, the country, and the world.”


UD holds a special place in my heart ... It instilled in me the belief that I could make a difference and inspired me to live a life committed to public service.” 

- President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Class of 1965

UD Adds two to
National Academy of Engineering

Terri Kelly, New member of U of D's Board of Trustees.
Levi Thompson is the new incoming dean of the College of Engineering. (Releases on Deans aren’t necessary)

Two University of Delaware alumni and current leaders were elected to the National Academy of Engineering, a distinction that is among the highest professional honors accorded to an engineer.


Terri L. Kelly — a 1983 graduate, the retired president and CEO of W.L. Gore & Associates, and now vice chair of the UD Board of Trustees — was selected “for leadership in product development and commercialization by advancing management practices that foster innovation.”


Levi T. Thompson — who graduated in 1981 and returned to UD in 2018 as dean of the College of Engineering and the Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering — was selected “for advances in catalysis and energy storage, entrepreneurship and academic leadership.”


Seven other UD faculty and faculty emeriti and 13 other UD alumni are also NAE members.


Expand to read the names of our other members

Faculty and Faculty Emeriti

Living Alumni

2008, Dennis Assanis, Mechanical Engineering

2005, Dominic DiToro, Civil & Environmental Engineering

2008, David Mills, Electrical & Computer Engineering

2012, Babatunde Ogunnaike, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

2018, Eleftherios (Terry) Papoutsakis, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

1996, Stanley Sandler, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

2015, Norman Wagner, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

2002, Rakesh Agrawal (1977)

2005, Kurt B. Akeley (1980)

1992, John L. Anderson (1967)

2004, Arup K. Chakraborty (1989)

2016, Morton Collins (1958)

2009, Arthur J. Coury (1962)

2013, Thomas F. Degnan Jr. (1977)

1985, Richard E. Emmert (1952)

1996, Arthur L. Goldstein (1959)

2016, Teh C. Ho (1977)

2004, Rakesh K. Jain (1976)

1997, Isaac C. Sanchez (1969)

2016, David F. Welch (1981)


Together, UD builds capacity
diverse leadership

The nationwide reckoning with racial injustice in 2020 led to many difficult but honest and productive conversations in the University of Delaware community, as well as structural changes and a fresh commitment to continue confronting the challenges of systemic bias.

College of Earth, Ocean & Environment's Dean Estella Atekwana participates in a Q & A for Black History Month.

The UD Antiracism Initiative grew out of an open dialogue among faculty, staff and students who are passionate about the critical issues of race and discrimination. The effort amplifies and supports the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement and seeks to address the continuing challenges of systemic racism within UD, the nation and the world.


UD student-athletes worked to influence local leaders towards positive change in the areas of police reform and student voter registration. Student-athletes also participated in implicit bias and inclusive language training and created a training curriculum for hosting recruits on campus.


This work is critical to reflecting the growing diversity of UD’s student population, as well as its faculty and administrative ranks.


At an institutional level, the University integrated its efforts into a central Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, reflecting a strong commitment to the values that are central to UD’s educational mission. The University is also closely examining the naming of buildings and other campus features to ensure they reflect UD’s values and historical context.


Becoming a more diverse community

Note: Since 2016

UD's global community creates
connections with impact

UD's global community creates connections with impact

A pioneer in global education, the University of Delaware is strengthening its bonds with the international community, despite the pandemic-imposed limits of the past year. 


“For nearly a century, UD has been at the forefront of creating innovative programs and building leaders around the world to advance education, scholarship and engagement,” said Ravi Ammigan, associate deputy provost for international programs. “We’re committed to leading the way to our next 100 years of excellence in global education and outreach.”  

Popular programs like the Weekly International Coffee Hour, the iHouse Culture Night series and the Festival of Nations celebration help UD’s international students connect with each other and the whole community. More than nine out of 10 international students say they appreciate the range of engagement activities here, putting UD’s programs and support services among the best in the world.   

To further elevate its international leadership and commitment to campus internationalization, UD created the Center for Global Programs and Services, combining staff, resources and expertise from several units to support and celebrate students and scholars on campus and around the world.


A daring idea from Professor Kirkbride

After serving in World War I, Raymond Kirkbride joined the University of Delaware as a literature professor, but he never forgot the devastation he had witnessed. He believed that connecting 


people one-on-one with other cultures would help promote deeper understanding and global peace.

So, in 1923, he led eight UD students to France to study for a year, creating the first study-abroad program in the United States. 

Carrying on Professor Kirkbride’s vision, UD recently pioneered the World Scholars Program, an immersive four-year global experience with two semesters abroad. More than 450 students and alumni are part of the program, which has freshman sites in Rome, Madrid, Athens and Auckland. 


UD cultivating the next
generation of entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship isn’t a program at the University of Delaware; it’s a mindset ... a way of seeing opportunities where others see obstacles ... an educational ecosystem full of resources and expert mentors to help turn an idea into a workable business or social venture.


“The opportunities at UD are unparalleled,” said Sury Gupta, who launched a growing virtual-reality company with a classmate while earning his bachelor’s in engineering with a minor in entrepreneurial studies. “Students are encouraged to explore beyond your majors and traditional career paths to find out what you are truly passionate in and develop the key fundamental value-adding skills to succeed in virtually anything you want to pursue.”


UD’s award-winning Horn Entrepreneurship initiative is the creative engine for this community and a big reason why UD ranks among the top 50 schools for undergraduates to study entrepreneurship, according to The Princeton Review.


One of the newest additions to Horn is the Siegfried Initiative for Entrepreneurial Leadership. This highly selective year-long experience helps students broaden and deepen their understanding of leadership while serving in their community.


“The more opportunities I get to be in leadership positions, the more deeply rooted I want to be in a collective, shared vision that makes a positive impact,” said senior April Singleton, a Siegfried Fellow and cofounder of the social venture EQuip. 


Also, Horn’s Diamond Challenge draws more than 10,000 high school students from around the world to pitch their ideas in a competition for $100,000 in start-up money and resources. UD’s undergraduates can major in entrepreneurship, while the Delaware Innovation Fellows program incorporates entrepreneurial skills for students in any major. Pitch programs like Hen Hatch give budding entrepreneurs a chance to secure funding for their ideas, and the Venture Development Center brings together inventors and innovators for collaboration. 



Gupta got his start in the Diamond Challenge while still in high school, then participated in Horn’s pre-accelerator Summer Founders program, Hen Hatch and VentureOn, a venture support program. The company he and James Massaquoi founded, 360VR Technology, creates digital 3D models of building layouts to aid emergency responders. They are now piloting the software with first responders across the country. 


Students — as well as faculty and staff — have access to a variety of design and fabrication tools in UD’s MakerGym to bring their ideas to life. The new Make It Happen Challenge is drawing innovators from throughout the University. 


Delaware Innovation Space
nurtures promising ventures

Science-based start-ups and growing companies are finding fertile ground for their businesses at the Delaware Innovation Space, a joint initiative of the University of Delaware, the State of Delaware and DuPont, as well as nearly two dozen other partners.


science inc cohortsThe incubator provides premium wet-lab space, modern equipment, offices, business expertise, acceleration support and access to funding on the grounds of DuPont’s historic Experimental Station near Wilmington. New programs this year include Science Inc., a cohort program to build businesses, and Spark Factory, a mentoring program for improving business concepts. Also,the First Fund invests up to $150,000 per start-up to get new companies off the ground.


Since its launch in 2017, Delaware Innovation space has supported more than 40 companies, which have raised more than $500 million in start-up funding and have created or retained more than 250 jobs. 


For UD, Delaware Innovation Space provides a unique opportunity for student interns to work and learn alongside entrepreneurs in biotechnology, health care, renewable energy, chemical ingredients, advanced materials and more. The initiative is also helping UD’s ground-breaking research become the foundation of successful businesses.


Lectrolyst, for example, is a Science Inc. company located at DIS that is emerging from the work of Feng Jiao, UD’s Robert Grasselli Development Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Jiao’s research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, shows that a two-step process converting captured carbon dioxide into useful chemicals can be both profitable and sustainable. Once operating at full scale and using renewable energy, the process could prevent up to 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year from ending up in the environment, as well as dramatically reducing dependence on oil and natural gas in the chemical industry. Focused on turning the process into commercial devices, Lectrolyst received early support from UD’s Blue Hen Proof of Concept Program and is being led by Greg Hutchings, a Postdoctoral Innovation Fellow at UD's Horn Entrepreneurship.


“This is an excellent example that at UD intellectual properties generated from federal funded research can lead to commercialization opportunities,” Jiao said.



Engagement and service

help forge student leaders

Lori’s Hands volunteers Steph Mayerson and Jordana Klein (senior cognitive science majors) visit with Tom Brockenbough.
Thomas Henry, 85, meets with Lori's Hands volunteers at his Newark home. He has his helpers do small chores around the house and keep him company by talking on the porch when it's nice outside. 

Students pictured are Krista Szymanski (red hair), Class of 2019, exercise science; Tong Xie, Class of 2020, economics; Ashley Sullivan, Class of 2020, elementary education.
Delaney Channell helps her Lori’s Hands client, Pat, during her weekly visits.

Serving others is one key to effective leadership, so University of Delaware students are deeply engaged in meeting the needs of their communities. One example is Lori’s Hands.


Launched in 2010 by UD students, Lori’s Hands pairs students in health-care majors with people in the community coping with chronic diseases. 


Students typically help with grocery shopping, meal preparation, light cleaning and other tasks, while the client teaches them about the daily realities of their condition. With about 350 students and 150 clients, the program has adopted more virtual and distanced activities during the pandemic. 


The program has been such a success in Newark that it is adding a Baltimore chapter with Johns Hopkins University and a Detroit chapter with Eastern Michigan University.


“What’s so exciting for me is hearing about the personal relationships that develop between students and clients,” said Liz Bonomo, a co-founder of Lori’s Hands who lives in Baltimore and is helping with the new chapter. “Now, there’s so many relationships between students and clients. It’s almost become like a second family.”


Also, UD student-athletes have continued to engage virtually with the Boys and Girls Club Wowzers program, serving as mentors to children at clubs throughout Delaware.

Undergraduate Research

develops Future Scholars

Jack Stone

Studying the impact of climate change on Antarctic sea ice “feels important and relevant to our lives here in Delaware, despite Antarctica being so far away. [The impact] could affect conditions all the way here in Delaware, especially with regards to issues such as global sea level rise.”

Read about Jack

Alice Amitrano

“My research focuses on 3D printing biobased materials derived from lignin, a complex polymer in the cell walls of plants that makes them rigid and woody. Our society needs renewable polymers to reduce the world’s dependency on petrochemicals.”       

Read about Alice

Alexis Edmonds

“I am developing creative learning modules to expand a student’s thinking and engage them in real life prompts. Social issues and racism are easier to communicate to children through poetry, song, dance, etc.”    

Read about Alexis


Victor Ramirez Delgado

“I’ve been studying a red giant star called Gamma Draconis. I’m analyzing data to describe what’s happening on its surface, which could help us sift out natural wobbles and spot planet-caused wobbles more easily. That could help us discover planets we aren’t even aware of yet in other solar systems.” 

Read about Victor


Drew Huffner

Working with Engineers Without Borders, he is studying the structural integrity of an aging bridge connecting a Malawi village to a hospital and a market. “Without this bridge, the community would be disconnected from necessary services. The fact that my research can affect real people and become tangible is really inspiring and motivating.”     

Read about Drew

Cara Lamberty

“I am measuring the length of sharks from digital images using laser photogrammetry, a technique that combines underwater photography with laser pointers. Determining their measurements each time the same shark returns to a location can inform growth patterns and which individuals are mature.”

Read about Cara


Creating Leaders for Today and Tomorrow | President's Report 2021 | University of Delaware
Creating Leaders for Today and Tomorrow | President's Report 2021 | University of Delaware
Creating Leaders for Today and Tomorrow | President's Report 2021 | University of Delaware
Creating Leaders for Today and Tomorrow | President's Report 2021 | University of Delaware
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