Board of Trustees hears Path to Prominence update
President Patrick Harker discusses Path to Prominence progress.
A. Gilchrist Sparks, III, chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Robert Gore, left, with A. Gilchrist Sparks.
Provost Tom Apple discusses recent awards earned by faculty and students.
Gov. Jack Markell addresses the Board of Trustees.


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3:08 p.m., Dec. 8, 2010----University of Delaware President Patrick Harker highlighted progress made on the University's Path to ProminenceTM strategic plan to members of the Board of Trustees during the board's semiannual meeting, held Tuesday, Dec. 7, in the Trabant University Center.

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During the meeting, where the board also authorized officials to prepare a feasibility study and a business plan for the establishment of a new UD law school, Harker highlighted examples of progress as related to each of the six milestones outlined in the University's strategic plan. The complete report of the Path to Prominence Review Committee is available online.

“Last year, I convened the Path to Prominence Review Committee to catalogue this progress and identify our priorities and the challenges ahead,” Harker said, adding that the committee “met with the community, students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, to evaluate the plan's implementation and to steer our way forward.”

“Our first goal, to create a diverse and stimulating undergraduate environment, has been advanced with the introduction of our First Year Experience Program,” Harker said. “The Experience is the student's first step in finding themselves and their passions, and in preparing to live as knowledgeable, informed and engaged members of a global society.”

Harker also emphasized the University's commitment to increasing racial, ethnic, cultural and intellectual diversity on campus.

“It's clear that we need to increase the number of African-American and Latino students on campus, while continuing to grow our share of Asian-American and international students,” Harker said. “And, we must ensure that all students get a quality education that emphasizes writing and oral communication, higher order thinking, and problem- and team-based learning.”

Progress on milestone goals noted by Harker also included:

  • Research and graduate education: “Our goal is to become a premier research and graduate university;”
  • Professional education: “Our goal is to expand our professional education programs, and every college has included professional programs in their strategic plans;”
  • Initiative for the planet: “Our goal is to be an international resource for environmental education, research, technology and policy;”
  • The Global Initiative: “Our goal is to foster knowledge of the important issues that face the world and to develop in this community the courage and the capacity to solve them,” and;
  • Engaged University: “Our goal is to engage with our local communities in Delaware and with the world.”

Harker said that the Path to Prominence also needs several key capabilities to ensure continuing achievement, including faculty and staff excellence, investments in information technologies, best management practices and financial resources to meet significant program and capital needs.

“We need a deeply held commitment to excellence in everything we do, and a capacity and an eagerness to embrace change as we set about becoming the university of our aspirations. Mediocrity is not an option,” Harker said. “We're all on this Path together. I mean that. I thank the Board and the entire UD community for committing to the journey, for helping us log a lot of progress in a short time and for setting the direction ahead.”

Board actions

During the meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the preparation of a feasibility study and a business plan for the establishment of a new UD law school on the campus in Newark.

A formal decision by the Board to establish a new law school is several years away, in the spring of 2013. If approved, the objective would be to recruit and hire a founding law school dean during the 2013-2014 academic year and to begin admitting the first law students for classes beginning in fall 2015.

“The University of Delaware is one of few universities without a professional degree program in law or medicine. A law school could support UD's growing prominence and help us achieve parity with our peers,” Harker said. “Clearly, a lot of assessment remains to be done, but, as we're already working to expand our professional offering in health, education and business, we also need to consider law. I thank the Board for authorizing this exploration into law.”

In other activity, the Board also recognized the 18 years of service by Robert Gore, a UD alumnus and chairman of W.L. Gore and Associates. Gore, who is retiring from the board, was honored with a special citation and was named a trustee emeritus.

The Board also elected its newest member, Michael Geltzeiler, to a six-year term. A 1980 UD alumnus, Geltzeiler is chief financial officer and group executive vice president of NYSE Euronext, where he is responsible for all aspects of finance, treasury and investor relations. He also serves on the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics Advisory Board.

Trustees also approved the conferring of honorary degrees for six individuals.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will received an honorary degree at Winter Commencement on Jan. 9, 2011.

Degrees will be conferred during the May 28, 2011, Commencement on:

  • David Driskell, an artist and scholar whose work is included in UD's Paul R. Jones Collection;
  • Richard Heck, Willis F. Harrington Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry;
  • U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle, a pubic servant for the state of Delaware, whose service included two terms as governor and lieutenant governor, and nine terms as Delaware's U.S. Congressman; and
  • Ellen Kullman, CEO of DuPont.

The Trustees also approved an honorary degree to be conferred on Robert McCraken Peck, a UD alumnus who is curator of art and artifacts and senior fellow at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, at Winter Commencement 2012.

Faculty and student recognition

University Provost Tom Apple recognized the achievement of UD faculty and students during the Dec. 7 meeting.

“I'll start with the one that's made headlines all around the world,” Apple said. “In October, it was announced that the University's Willis F. Harrington Professor Emeritus Richard Heck has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He delivers his Nobel lecture in just a few days.”

Apple noted that Heck's research in carbon-atom bonding revolutionized a range of industries, from pharmaceuticals to electronics.

“I had the great fortune to be a graduate student in chemistry when Prof. Heck was on the faculty. He came to UD in 1971 and, for nearly two decades, he developed his path-breaking work here,” Apple said. “We couldn't be prouder of his phenomenal accomplishment.”

Apple noted that UD will welcome Heck, who will receive an honorary degree from UD at the 2011 Spring Commencement, and his co-Laureate Ei-ichi Negishi in May 2011, when they will discuss the implications of their work in palladium-catalyzed cross-couplings.

Other faculty awards include:

  • C.P. Huang, Donald C. Phillips Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who was honored with a career retrospective in Taichung, Taiwan;
  • Krzysztof Szalewicz, professor of physics and astronomy, and chemistry, who was elected a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science;
  • Anne Robinson, professor of chemical engineering, who was inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering's College of Fellows, Class of 2011;
  • Mary Ann McLane, professor of medical technology, who was named the 2010 Delaware Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; and
  • Hui Fang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, selected to participate in the prestigious HP Labs Innovation Research Program.

Young faculty awards include:

  • Matthew Oliver, assistant professor of oceanography, Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
  • DuPont Young Professor Awards went to three UD engineering faculty, including Xinqiao Jia, assistant professor of materials science, Matthew Doty, also an assistant professor of materials science; and Thomas Epps, assistant professor of chemical engineering. The awards provide unrestricted start-up assistance to promising young research faculty working in areas of interest to DuPont's long-term business.

David Suisman, associate professor of history, was awarded the Francis Alison Society's 2010 Gerard J. Mangone Young Scholars Award.

Apple also recognized UD's newest named professors:

  • Michael Klein, Dan Rich Chair of Energy, and director of the UD Energy Institute; and
  • Blake Meyers, Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences.

Student recognition included the UD Chorale, which won three second-place awards and one third-place award at the 42nd International Tolosa Choral Contest in Spain, placing in every category in which it competed, and Matthew Watters, one of 32 U.S. students to win the oldest and most prestigious award for international study, the Rhodes Scholarship. Watters will get a full ride to Oxford University to pursue his master's degree in global public health.

Apple also recognized three UD administrators who will be leaving for new posts, including:

  • Deputy Provost Havidán Rodríguez, who has accepted a position as provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas;
  • Conrado (Bobby) Gempesaw, dean of the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, who has accepted a position as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio; and
  • Suzanne Austin, interim dean of the College of Education and Human Development, who has been appointed vice provost for student and faculty success at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Apple asked board members and attendees to applaud faculty and student honorees and to recognize the services of the administrators who are leaving to being new assignments.

“It's my honor at each of these Board meeting to share news of faculty and student excellence,” Apple said. That excellence is abundant this year, and I'm thrilled to be able to recognize some extraordinary achievements.”

Gov. Markell addresses Trustees

Also at the meeting, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, an ex officio member of the board, discussed UD's roles as an economic engine and the importance of implementing new educational initiatives, as outlined in the national Race to the Top educational funding program.

Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by Kathy Atkinson