“I think this conference was a great success,” UD President Patrick Harker said. “It brought together key people from a variety of fields to begin to lay the groundwork for new partnerships throughout the state. The University is committed to a continuing effort to build partnerships, so that knowledge developed here might be commercialized for the marketplace.”
UD Provost Dan Rich welcomed the participants and introduced Jim Wolfe, president of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. Earlier this year, Rich led a task force on economic development in the state that laid out the University's contributions and recommended fresh opportunities, including events such as that held Friday.
Wolfe introduced Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, calling her an effective partner in policy initiatives, making Delaware “the best state in which to do business.”
Minner talked about the importance of partnerships, not just for tomorrow but the future, and working together to benefit everyone.
She discussed educational opportunities for students to provide an educated workforce in Delaware, from the implementation of full-time kindergarten to the SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree) Program, offering Delaware students opportunities to work for associate degrees. She also spoke highly of Charles Elson, Edgar S. Woolard Jr. Chair in Corporate Governance and director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance in UD's Lerner College of Business and Economics, and the center's national reputation and influence on important laws affecting corporations.
Minner also spoke on collaborations at the Delaware Technology Park and cited the UD Delaware Biotechnology Institute, pointing out that its projects included bioterrorism research and poultry research, including avian flu.
The goal is to keep Delaware “competitive, regionally, nationally and globally” through partnerships and to keep Delaware the best place to live, work and raise a family, Minner said.
Harker thanked Gov. Minner and introduced the conference keynote speaker, Chad Holliday, who became DuPont Co. CEO in 1998 and chair in 1999. He is author of Walking the Talk: The Business Case for Sustainable Development. Among his appointments, Holliday has chaired the Board of directors of Catalyst, expanding opportunities for women; chairs the U.S. Council on Competitiveness; and is a founding member of the International Business Council.
Holliday's talk centered on Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Future, a report from the National Academies on the state of math and science education in the country.
Holliday had six points about issues concerning maintaining the standard of living in the U.S, in a highly competitive world. The first was “What's the Fuss?” as the country is still first, but he projected that in 10 years if we did nothing, this would change.
His third point was the shortage of engineers, as current engineers reach retirement age.
He then pointed out that the country is falling behind in K-12 education, specifically in students seeking careers in science and engineering. In the U.S. far fewer students seek to become scientists and engineers than in South Korea (38 percent) and China (50 percent).
Holliday then discussed energy, global warming and alternative fuels. The biggest area for fast improvement is conservation, he said. Japan has a program that requires manufacturers to produce more energy-efficient appliances within five years or face hefty fines.
In answer to the question, “Can China match us economically?,” Holliday recalled negotiations with China on building a plant in 1997 and later in 2007. In the first instance, the governor of the province was anxious to have the plant and was very cooperative. Ten years later, he said, the attitude had changed and, after a meeting that was delayed until 1:20 a.m., the governor of another province said he'd get back to him.
Holliday's talk was followed by a question and answer period, and a subsequent panel responded to his thoughts. The conference continued with panel discussions on corporate governance, alternative energy, life sciences, advanced materials, and environmental and agricultural partnerships.
Abby Joseph Cohen of Goldman Sachs & Co., one of the nation's leading market analysts, was the luncheon speaker.
Cosponsoring the conference with the University were the Office of the Governor, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, the Delaware Public Policy Institute, Delaware Business Roundtable, First State Innovation, Select Greater Philadelphia and The News Journal.
Article by Sue Moncure
Photos by Kathy Atkinson