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University achievements

President Assanis highlights University accomplishments and progress at General Faculty meeting

Not even a pandemic can stop the tremendous momentum of the University of Delaware, President Dennis Assanis said at the General Faculty meeting on Monday, May 1, where he highlighted many of the accomplishments of the University and also shared insights on future developments.

“It’s a real pleasure for me to share the progress with you and the state of affairs of our great University,” Assanis said. “I want to start, as always, with extending my thanks from my heart to all of you for the amazing experience we continue to deliver to our students, and everybody involved with our students — our faculty and staff. Everyone is so dedicated to providing that unparalleled educational experience and growth.”

One of the most exciting events of the spring is Commencement, Assanis said. He encouraged all faculty members to celebrate the 6,000-plus graduates on Saturday, May 27, at Delaware Stadium.

“For all of us here, leading our students to success — that's a great joy in life every year, and of course it's the best ceremony of the year,” Assanis said.

At the meeting, which was held in Mitchell Hall, Assanis highlighted many of the achievements of students, faculty and staff. He provided updates on enrollment management at the undergraduate and graduate levels; diversity, equity, and inclusion; faculty and staffing plans; and capital plans.

UD continues to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, Assanis said. The number of underrepresented minority undergraduates continues to increase every year, and since 2010, there has been a 74% increase in first-generation students and a 28% increase in Pell Grant recipients attending UD. The University also provides more undergraduate financial aid each year, up 71% since 2016.

“It's a steady progress, and I want to thank every one of you, because it takes a village to not only bring them to the University but to make sure we lead them to success and ensure they belong here in the community,” Assanis said.

Assanis 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.

“Truly, we invented study abroad for the world,” Assanis said. “I’m extremely proud of this accomplishment.”

The University is working to grow its community of international students since the pandemic disrupted global education trends, Assanis said. While the number of international graduate enrollments has been climbing since 2020, international undergraduate enrollment has been down. This year, though, UD has seen a 26% increase in applications by international undergraduate students.

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, UD hosted international counselors to learn about academic programs, research facilities and campus life.

“These are the kinds of interactions that we pursue to enhance our global opportunities,” Assanis said. “Part of the strategy is to take our students to the world, but another one is to bring the world to UD.”

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. He anticipates enrollment growth in many graduate programs, the Associate in Arts Program and among transfer students.

“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.

“We're continuing to build our faculty ranks, and we're doing that judiciously …. We’re considering a multitude of factors in doing this,” Assanis said. “Of course, the balance of teaching and research goes without saying. We continue to be extremely committed to providing unparalleled undergraduate education and, at the same time, complementing great graduate education and research. So we've got to be looking at those balances and, of course, our commitment to engagement and service with the community and the public. That's what we're all about. That's our mission.”

Also, the University continues to grow physically, Assanis said. The full opening of the Fintech Innovation Hub on the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus is anticipated for this summer. “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 25,000-square-foot addition to Drake Hall, which features teaching and research labs for chemistry and biochemistry, is now complete.

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


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