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General Faculty meeting

President Assanis highlights University achievements

From great discoveries in labs, to wonderful lectures in classrooms, to terrific theatrical and musical performances, there have been lots of moments of pride during the 2022 fall semester at the University of Delaware, President Dennis Assanis said at the General Faculty meeting on Dec. 5.

“It’s really fantastic to be back live with you after three years,” Assanis said at the first in-person General Faculty Meeting since 2019. “It has been a long time, but we certainly have not been idle during this time. We’ve been doing tremendous things. Faculty, staff and students have been chiming in to continue to provide an unparalleled academic experience.”

During the presentation, Assanis highlighted many of the accomplishments of students, faculty and staff and shared insights on how the University is putting its new strategic plan into action. He provided updates on enrollment management at the undergraduate and graduate levels; diversity, equity, and inclusion; faculty and staffing plans; capital plans; and resources to fuel those visions.

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.

UD has added about 100 faculty positions since 2016. With new positions and replacements, about a third of the total faculty has joined UD since 2016, bringing fresh energy and perspectives to the classroom and research projects. In the next five to seven years, Assanis anticipates the faculty will continue to grow so that half of the faculty will be relatively new to UD, complementing the excellent faculty who are already in UD’s ranks.

“That’s pretty amazing,” Assanis said. “I don’t know of any other academic institution where this is happening right now. We’re building excellence for the long run here.”

To improve retention, a survey of the faculty — by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, or COACHE — is helping the University ensure that all faculty receive support and coaching from peers and administration, he said.

Assanis said he was pleased with the increases in undergraduate and graduate applications to the University this year. The number of undergraduate applications has doubled in the past five years, and graduate applications are up 130% from last year. Both have seen significant increases in diversity and international applicants. The diversity of the whole student body is increasing, he said, thanks to multiple programs that celebrate the University’s various cultures and perspectives.

“We are becoming a very attractive place for students to apply,” Assanis said

The University, Assanis said, is developing a comprehensive enrollment management plan that balances student types, programs, financial resources and other objectives. He thanked the faculty for offering more course sections for the 2023 Winter Session, which will help students stay on track to graduate in four years or less.

Also, the University continues to grow physically, Assanis said. The full opening of the Fintech Innovation Hub is anticipated for the summer of 2023. “Building X,” which will replace McKinly Lab and provide research and teaching spaces for multiple departments including biology, psychology, neuroscience and physics, is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2024.

To help fund this vision, Delaware First: The Campaign for the University of Delaware is nearing its $1 billion goal, Assanis said. More than 107,000 donors have supported undergraduate scholarships, professorships and chair funds, fellowships and graduate funds, program and research funds, and support for multiple facilities.

Assanis credited the University’s faculty and staff for its strong showing in recent national rankings: UD advanced four slots to the rank of No. 89 among the nation’s best overall universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Among top public national universities, UD ranked 38th. Additionally, the University’s undergraduate chemical engineering program was ranked second in the nation, the highest U.S. News ranking in the program's history.

“There is a broad commitment to student success among faculty, staff and administrators, which is wonderful, but there is also a strong sense of UD pride among students and families,” Assanis said.

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