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President Dennis Assanis at May UDARF meeting
President Dennis Assanis tell retired faculty about the challlenges and progress at the University over the past two years.

Challenges met, future bright

Photo by Evan Krape

UD President Dennis Assanis speaks with retired faculty association members

The University of Delaware faced both unprecedented challenges and made extraordinary progress over the past two years, President Dennis Assanis told the UD Association of Retired Faculty (UDARF) during the group’s luncheon on Wednesday, May 4, in the Audion in the Tower at STAR (Science, Technology and Advanced Research Campus).

“The campus is becoming vibrant,” he said. “The University — just like every other organization — keeps evolving, keeps going.”

Assanis noted that, in the 2023 edition of Best Graduate Schools, U.S. News and World Report ranked 23 UD graduate programs among the 100 best in the nation, including 10 in the top 50.

Assanis also amplified his announcement from earlier in the day that Laura Carlson, an administrator, educator and researcher with more than 20 years of higher education experience at the University of Notre Dame, was named the University’s 12th provost.

Hiring distinguished faculty continues to be a priority of the University, he said. Even with a hiring freeze that came with the coronavirus pandemic, UD has added about 100 faculty positions in the last five years, with plans to continue growing in alignment with enrollment needs.

“The decisions that we’re making now are going to shape the University of the future,” Assanis said, noting that faculty tend to stay at the University for decades.

Attendees were excited to see firsthand the transformation of the former Chrysler assembly site — which many retired professors remembered from their teaching days — to the current STAR Campus, where the event was held.

During the presentation, Assanis showed images comparing the site in 2011, when it was nearly bare, to 2022, when there are several buildings in place with expectations for more. UD will continue to build out the STAR Campus over the next few decades, Assanis said, with the construction of a mixed-use space of residential apartments and retail space beginning later this year.

The University continues to invest in the heart of campus as well, Assanis said. An addition to Drake Hall will be completed this year, and “Building X,” which will replace McKinly Lab and provide research and teaching spaces for multiple departments including biology, psychology, physics and linguistics, is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2024.

“Its function will be interdisciplinary, and it is really going to look very sharp,” Assanis said.

Assanis said he was pleased with the increases in applications to the University this year and in the deposits made by the normal May 1 deadline.

“We anticipate a very strong Class of 2026,” Assanis said. “We had an increase in admissions coming from a pool of applicants that was very strong. There's a lot of interest, and we’ve made a lot of progress. Every school and college is up. The Honors College is up significantly.”

Graduate applications increased as well, and international student acceptances are up significantly from last year.

Assanis shared that more stories about UD’s goals, achievements and expectations are outlined in the President's Report.

UDARF holds quarterly luncheons with a speaker and, once a semester, a discussion called, “My Intellectual Journey,” in which a faculty member shares their career experiences. There are many exciting ideas in the works for next year’s events, UDARF president Janet Johnson said.

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