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6:30 p.m., May 11, 2008--UD President Patrick Harker previewed his blueprint for the future of the University during the closing keynote speech of the first-ever University of Delaware Forum, "Charting Our Path to Prominence," held Saturday, May 10, in Newark.
His remarks capped a day that began with an address by Zhou Wenzhong, ambassador to the United States from the People's Republic of China, and included panel discussions on a number of important topics from energy and climate change to public education, health care and arts and the humanities. More than 1,250 persons attended the Forum.
Opening the afternoon program were a performance by the internationally acclaimed University of Delaware Chorale, led by Paul Head, and remarks by Howard Cosgrove, chairman of the University's Board of Trustees, and Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. "The University has made it very clear that Delaware's future economic vitality will be a part of its mission," Minner said, adding, "I look forward to continuing our partnership with the University of Delaware and expect to see that relationship grow as we enter a new future for the institution, its students and its faculty."
In his address at the Bob Carpenter Center, Harker described the University's new strategic plan--its "Path to Prominence"--and outlined a series of guiding principles and initiatives, including a commitment to Delaware and students from the First State and the creation of a University of Delaware Law Institute, as well as institutes for energy and the environment.
"I was attracted to the University of Delaware because I saw that it is already a gem of an institution. Now I am pleased to describe today our plan to make this gem shine even brighter," Harker said.
After becoming the University's 26th president in July 2007, he said he met with people across the campus. "The question we considered was: 'How can we become the University of our aspirations?'"To answer that question, Harker said, he met with each college, school, department and unit and created a strategic planning committee to identify, shape and refine the goals of the University based on discussions with students, staff, alumni community members, UD Board of Trustee members and state leadership.
The result, he said, was a lively and often passionate discussion of the University's future that included identifying opportunities and developing the key initiatives for UD's "Path to Prominence."
"Before setting out on a journey, you need to know where you stand and what you stand for," Harker said. "Before designing the specific initiatives of our plan, we identified a set of guiding principles--our core values. They define the essential commitments that make us who we are."
Principle 1--Delaware First: "We are the flagship of higher education for Delaware. We will ensure that every Delawarean has access here and our prominence will bring opportunity and recognition to the state."
Principle 2--Diversity: "We will foster a robust educational environment in which all people are welcome and feel welcomed. Respect for diverse views and values are essential to the success of a university."
Principle 3--Partnership: "No university is an island. We will create and expand innovative partnerships for economic and community development to serve the critical needs of the state, the nation and the world.”
Principle 4--Engagement: "We will engage students, faculty, staff and alumni in the most compelling social, cultural, artistic and scientific challenges of our age. We will address such important matters as environmental sustainability, social justice and human suffering. We will contribute to the elevation of the human condition."
Principle 5--Impact: "Our job is not done until our ideas, our expertise and our students are given the opportunity to make a sufficient difference. This will assure that the University's innovation, excitement and accomplishments are known throughout the world. Ultimately, the success of our Path to Prominence must be measured by the positive impact we have on both the members of the UD community and beyond."
Harker said, “These five guiding principles-- Delaware First, Diversity, Partnership, Engagement and Impact-are the beacons that guide our steps on the Path to Prominence. After we established our guiding principles--where we stand--our next challenge was to define where we are headed. We created a specific set of initiatives that are the heart of our plan. These are the milestones that define our path and propel us forward on our new journey.”
The six milestones described by Harker as “bold, yet pragmatic initiatives that demonstrate our responses to the major challenge we face as a university and in the world” include:
- Creating a diverse and stimulating undergraduate academic environment;
- Becoming a premier research and graduate university;
- Achieving excellence in professional education;
- Advancing an Initiative for the Planet;
- Extending UD's impact through a Global Initiative; and
- Increasing Delaware's commitment to be an engaged university.
Complementing the goal of cultivating intellectual curiosity and a passion for learning, Harker said that UD will build on an already strong commitment to students from the First State.
“We now extend that commitment to ensure that every qualified student from Delaware will have the resources to attend,” Harker said. “Beginning in the fall of 2009, the demonstrated financial need of every Delaware student admitted to the Newark campus will be met, up to the full cost of tuition, fees, room and board and books.”
Harker also said that as the world becomes more specialized, a top university must be a leader in research and graduate education.
“Our research ranges from working with the smallest building blocks of life through the Delaware Biotechnology Institute to peering into the farthest depths of the universe through the Whole Earth Telescope, which knits together observatories around the world,” Harker said. “On our Path to Prominence, we need to encourage more of this work that will advance our knowledge and prepare the experts of the future.”
Noting that an undergraduate degree is no longer enough for advancement in many professions, Harker said that UD is committed to expanding existing professional programs and creating new ones, including a University of Delaware Law Institute.
“With more than half of all U.S. publicly traded companies and 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies based in the state, Delaware is the center of corporate law,” Harker said. “Delaware also holds unique environmental significance, with the entire state designated a vital coastal community. We have deep expertise in corporate, intellectual property and environmental law. In establishing this institute, we will also continue to explore the broader step of creating a full law school at the University.”
In response to environmental concerns, such as global warming and finite natural resources, UD will continue to make substantial contributions to the development of alternative technologies and to innovative environmental studies.
“On our 'Path to Prominence,' we will continue to strengthen our work in service of the planet. Next year, we will officially launch a University-wide Institute for Alternative Energy that will build upon and further expand the world-class energy programs for which our University has gained recognition since the 1970s,” Harker said. “We also will expand resources for path-breaking environmental research, building on the Center for Critical Zone Research to establish a new Institute for the Environment.”
Harker also announced the establishment of a UD Institute for Global Studies to expand upon the current work of UD's Center for International Studies.
"We will renew our commitment to educate active and engaged citizens," Harker said. "We will expand our global reach and strengthen our global partnerships for study and research."
Noting UD's tradition of commitment and services to the arts, humanities and social sciences, Harker said that UD will become a university that values engagement and seeks to meet challenges at the local, regional and global level.
"Initiatives in this area include creating centers to engage students, promoting lifelong interaction with alumni, leading innovation and strengthening public education in Delaware and beyond," Harker said. "We will create a culturally and socially engaged university, building on our strengths in this area. Closer to home, we will strengthen our partnership with the city of Newark and extend our presence in Southern Delaware."
While these goals represent the outcome of a strategic conversation, Harker said, "the dialog does not stop now that we have committed these plans to paper. In a certain sense, it is just beginning, as we work across the University to flesh out the implications of this plan for every part of our enterprise....
"While we need to define specific tactics and milestones, we also need to remain nimble and to embrace change," Harker said. "Our overarching goal remains unshakeable--to fulfill the mission of the University and to be recognized as one of the great public institutions of higher education in America."
"These aspirations are embodied perhaps most directly in the words of the Blue Hen fight song, which was written in the 1930s by alumnus George Kelley, of the Class of 1915," Harker said. "It goes: 'Delaware will shine. When the sun goes down and the moon comes up. Delaware will shine.' We invite you to join with us in pursuing this Path to Prominence, which will ensure that now and in the future, Delaware will shine."
Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by Stuart Watson
Slilde show photos by Kathy F. Atkinson, Lane McLaughlin, Duane Perry, Kevin Quinlan and Stuart Watson.