Logo Image
Memorial Hall
The University of Delaware Board of Trustees held its semiannual spring meeting on Tuesday, May 16.

Trustees hold semiannual meeting

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson

UD President Dennis Assanis highlights memorable semester and shares path forward

From the spring semester of 2023 alone, there are countless incredible accomplishments at the University of Delaware worthy of spotlight. At the semiannual meeting of the Board of Trustees, held Tuesday, May 16, UD President Dennis Assanis highlighted many of the achievements of students, faculty and staff and expressed gratitude for all the ways the Blue Hen community has bounced back from the pandemic and continues to build momentum going forward.

“We have a great University that we should all be very, very proud of, and again, thank you from my heart for your efforts,” Assanis said.

Assanis noted many of the memorable moments from the 2023 spring semester, including UDance, which raised $1.78 million to help fight childhood cancer; “Power to the Poet: Reclaiming Black Stories Through Poetry,” an event that featured a keynote by poet, writer and performance artist Ebony Stewart, as well as performances by students and community members; and several athletics achievements, including the men’s lacrosse team winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.

Assanis highlighted a recent acceleration of growth in UD’s research enterprise. Between 2010 and 2018, the University was fairly steady in terms of research outputs, with about $120 million annually in externally sponsored research, Assanis said. In recent years, UD has invested more in research: externally sponsored spending and internal spending totaled about $368.1 million in fiscal year 2022. While the National Science Foundation has not yet announced rankings by total research and development expenditures, Assanis said he anticipates UD’s ranking to jump significantly.

“I hope that everybody realizes that it's only happening because of the great efforts of our students and faculty,” Assanis said. “Our people are champions in the classroom, but they're also champions in research and the impact to serve society.”

UD is also continuing to make an impact globally, Assanis said. He highlighted some of the ways that the University is expanding international education and global opportunities. This year, UD is celebrating the distinction of being the first American institution to launch a study abroad program a century ago.

UD maintains education and research collaborations with more than 200 institutions on six continents and continues to foster the development of those networks. In February, UD administrators traveled to India with Delaware Gov. John Carney to meet with prospective and incoming students, parents, guidance counselors, alumni and institutional partners. In April and May, UD hosted international counselors to learn about academic programs, research facilities and campus life.

“We’re a hidden jewel that’s not so hidden anymore,” Assanis said. “We’re building networks where there’s a lot of population growth.”

Assanis offered a glimpse of the class of 2027, an academically strong group of incoming students.

“First of all, the headline: It’s looking good,” Assanis said, stating that the incoming class has an average GPA of 4.04, up from 3.96 last year. “I want to share with the people in this room that some of us may not have been able to get into the University of Delaware today.”

Hiring and retaining distinguished faculty continues to be a priority of the University, Assanis said. A multi-year faculty hiring plan is being developed to enable strategic growth that is aligned with UD’s academic, enrollment, staffing and physical capacity, Assanis said.

The University, Assanis said, is developing a comprehensive enrollment management plan that balances student types, programs, financial resources and other objectives. While the University received a record number of undergraduate applications this year, Assanis projects that the incoming undergraduate class size will remain steady over the next five years. Assanis said he anticipates enrollment growth in many graduate programs, in the Associate in Arts Program and among transfer students.

Also, the University continues to grow physically, he said. The Fintech Innovation Hub on the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus is now open. “Building X,” which will replace McKinly Lab and provide research and teaching spaces for multiple departments including biology, psychology, neuroscience, physics and quantum science, is scheduled to be completed in fall 2024. The Library Annex addition freed space to expand student seating and study areas in Morris Library. 

There are so many exciting things happening at the University, Assanis said, and he encouraged trustees, faculty, staff and community members to read more in the 2023 President’s Report.

Following Assanis’s remarks, Provost Laura Carlson shared examples of how the University’s “Forward and Forever” strategic plan is being brought to life, recognizing activities by individual faculty members.

“Imagine these efforts multiplied by hundreds across our whole faculty body,” Carlson said. “It's important to note that the strategic plan is owned by all of us. It was designed and created by all, and so it needs to be implemented by all. … That work is well underway.”

During the meeting, Laura Field, Donald J. Puglisi Professor of Finance and chair of the Department of Finance, gave a presentation based on her recent paper that examines a regulation in Canada designed to increase female representation in corporate boards and the executive suite. Rather than mandating that firms must diversify, the regulation required firms to disclose their diversity practices. Field’s research examined the effects of the regulation, including impacts on the stock market and on diversity on corporate boards and in the executive suite.

Board Action

At the meeting, trustees approved several resolutions, including:

  • awarding UD honorary degrees to Mae Jemison, a former NASA astronaut who was the first African American woman in space; Sally Ives Gore, a UD alumna and philanthropist focused on the advancement of women and girls in the U.S. and in developing countries; Rakesh Jain, a UD alumnus and now director of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital; and Marichu Valencia, a community leader and philanthropist who serves on the UD President’s Leadership Council and the board of directors for the Ronald McDonald House and the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware;

  • approving new named professorships, promotions and tenure decisions;

  • awarding permanent program status to master of science in cybersecurity;

  • disestablishing the master of arts in early childhood development and programming, the MBA in entrepreneurship and innovation, and master of engineering particle technology program;

  • approving increases for tuition and dining and housing rates;

  • recognizing gifts to the University;

  • approving renovations and maintenance upgrades, including deferred maintenance upgrades to Spencer Laboratory Design Studio, the ice arena chiller replacement; and the STAR Tower ninth floor fit-out; 

  • approving the endowment spending rate for fiscal year 2024; and

  • approving the proposed sale of a University-owned property in southern New Castle County, the proceeds of which will fund The Sewell C Biggs Endowed Chair in American Art History. 

Also at the meeting, the Board re-elected its officers: Terri L. Kelly, chair; Terence M. Murphy, co-vice chair; William M. Lafferty, co-vice chair; and Kathleen V. Hawkins, secretary-treasurer. Trustees Donna Fontana, Debra Hess Norris, Robert Rider Jr. and Edmond Sannini were reappointed to six-year terms, and Nicholas Marsini was appointed to a six-year term.

University of Delaware Medals of Distinction were awarded to Maria Aristigueta, former dean of the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration; John Pelesko, who is stepping down as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Bruce Weber, who is retiring as dean of the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics; and Mark Samuels Lasner, senior research fellow at the UD Library. Aristagueta, Pelesko and Weber were honored for their service as deans, and Samuels Lasner was recognized for the donation of his vast collection of British literature and art to the University’s Special Collections. The highest non-academic award bestowed by the Board of Trustees, the medal recognizes individuals who have made humanitarian, cultural, intellectual or scientific contributions to society, who have achieved noteworthy professional success or who have given significant service to the University, community, state or region. Earlier in the month, a Medal of Distinction was presented to alumnus David Plastino, who established the David A. Plastino Scholars Program, which supports undergraduates with extraordinary talent, promise and imagination.

More Campus & Community Stories

See More Stories

Contact Us

Have a UDaily story idea?

Contact us at ocm@udel.edu

Members of the press

Contact us at 302-831-NEWS or visit the Media Relations website