University of Delaware
UD President Patrick Harker addresses the Board of Trustees.

Board of Trustees

Diversity, state support discussed at UD Board of Trustees meeting


10:42 a.m., Dec. 8, 2011--University of Delaware President Patrick Harker updated members of the UD Board of Trustees on efforts to secure state support for fiscal year 2013 and new initiatives to increase diversity during the board’s semiannual meeting, held Tuesday, Dec. 6, in the Trabant University Center.

Harker highlighted funding sought by UD in its FY2013 budget request, which was recently submitted to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

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“I didn’t just talk about our budget request, but about how we’re investing in our students and in our state, and how those investments are paying off,” Harker said. “I also talked about how we’re getting UD’s students into good jobs, and getting good jobs into Delaware.”

State support also is critical to helping fund the University’s Commitment to Delawareans, which includes a pledge to meet the full demonstrated need of Delaware students and to cap their total debt at one-quarter the cost of a UD education, Harker said.

“The academic component of the program outlines the coursework and grades that virtually guarantee in-state students admission to UD,” Harker said. “Since the program’s launch, high school transcripts have shown that Delaware applicants are taking tougher course loads that really prepare them for college-level work.” 

During the current academic year, 1,559 students from Delaware are receiving assistance, which accounts for about 40 percent of in-state freshmen, sophomores and juniors on campus.

“We’ve obligated $7.8 million to the program this year,” Harker said. “Next year, when we’ve achieved our first full, four-year cohort under the Commitment, we project we’ll provide assistance to another 500 students, with a total institutional obligation of $10.5 million.”

With the leveraging of other sources of support, including private gifts and federal assistance, the average per-year package to eligible students through the Commitment to Delawareans topped $14,800 last year. 

Harker also noted that last year, American college graduates left school owing $25,000 on average, a 5 percent increase over the 2009 debt load.

“Students and families are struggling out there, and taking on record levels of debt isn’t going to help them,” Harker said. “We’re committed to making higher education an investment that Delawareans can afford.

President’s Diversity Initiative

Making UD a more diverse, more equitable and more inclusive University is a Path to Prominence core value and strategic milestone that needs a stepped-up effort, Harker said.

“There is no denying that we’ve not made as much progress on this front as we’d like,” Harker said. “Our campus doesn’t reasonably reflect the larger society, and until it does, we can’t be reasonably assured that we will achieve the things we value.” 

Harker also noted recommendations contained in the reaccreditation report from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education regarding diversity efforts at UD.

“The Office of Equity and Inclusion is the administrative arm leading our diversity initiatives,” Harker said. “It’s doing a terrific job, but we know significant change won’t come without broadening faculty and staff involvement to ensure that our efforts are effective.” 

An example of this effort is the Diversity and Equity Commission created last year, which submitted a number of recommendations from the latest Campus Climate Survey on how to make the University a more welcoming campus to all.

Harker also announced the President’s Diversity Initiative to coordinate the many diversity efforts under way and to set annual priorities and timelines around specific areas of action.

“The initiative will support and nurture all forms of diversity, working with the Diversity and Equity Commission to identify information needed to guide institutional change and help UD leaders develop plans for accountability,” Harker said. “I’ve asked Maggie Andersen, associate provost and Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Sociology, to lead this initiative through its formative period.”

Complementing the President’s Diversity Initiative will be the Center for the Study of Diversity to be established within the College of Arts and Sciences, Harker said. 

James Jones, professor of psychology and Black American Studies, will lead the center, which will serve as the academic arm of UD’s diversity efforts, Harker said.

“I’m committed to boldness on this,” Harker said. “I’m serious about making UD a more welcoming and more inclusive institution.” 

Board action

Among the actions approved by the trustees at the meeting were resolutions:

• granting permanent status to the master's in science degree in health promotion;

• changing the name of the Department of Chemical Engineering to the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering;

• approving the establishment of a new 4 + 1 Program leading to the bachelor's degree in linguistics and the master's degree in linguistics and cognitive science; 

• terminating the master's degree in counseling in higher education;

• establishing new 4 +1 programs leading to the bachelor of electrical engineering/master of science in engineering and computer engineering and to the bachelor of computer engineering/master of science in electrical and computer engineering; and

• making veterans who are receiving educational benefits through the GI Bill eligible for Delaware residency upon proof of residency in the state. 

The board also passed several motions expressing gratitude to specific donors and friends of the University.

Faculty and student recognition

Concluding the meeting, University Provost Tom Apple highlighted recent achievements of UD faculty and students.

“As provost, I have the honor to present news of faculty and student excellence,” Apple said. “It’s always a great treat to recognize the tremendous scholarship, research and talent that thrives here at the University.” 

Faculty honors noted by Apple include:

  • Thomas Epps, III, chosen by the University’s Francis Alison Society to receive the 2011 Gerard J. Mangone Young Scholars Award;
  • Yushan Yang appointed Distinguished Professor of Engineering, for his responsibilities in chemical engineering and the UD Energy Institute;
  • Ismat Shah, a professor with joint appointments in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Physics and Astronomy, who has been awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct research at Baku State University in Azerbaijan;
  • James Jones, professor of psychology and Black American Studies, who received the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Society from the American Psychological Association;
  • Richard Wool, professor of chemical engineering and director of the Affordable Composites from Renewable Sources program, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BioEnvironmental Plastic Society;
  • Dionisios Vlachos, Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering and director of the Center for Catalytic Science and Technology, who received the 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineering’s R.H. Wilhelm Award in chemical reaction engineering;
  • Kathleen Schell, associate professor and interim director of the School of Nursing, who received the 2011 Nurse Educator Award from the Delaware Nurses Association;
  • Peter Rees, associate professor of geography, who received the Higher Education Distinguished Teaching Award from the National Council for Geographic Education;
  • John Scholz, professor of physical therapy, who has been elected a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association;
  • Tsu-Wei Chou, Pierre S. du Pont Chair of Engineering, who was honored as a world fellow of composites at the 18th International Conference on Composite Materials, held in Korea;
  • Michael T. Klein, director of the UD Energy Institute and the Dan Rich Chair in Energy and professor of chemical engineering, who was recognized as 2011 American Chemical Society Fellow;
  • E. Terry Papoutsakis, Eugene du Pont Chair of Chemical Engineering, who was recognized as a 2011 American Chemical Society Fellow; 
  • Timothy Murray, head of the library’s Special Collections Department, who was inducted as a fellow of the Society of American Archivists; and 
  • George Luther, Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor at the University of Delaware, who has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Student honors noted by Apple include:

  • Daicar-Bata Prizes given by the Department of Physics and Astronomy include doctoral level students Qi Lu, for his article on supercapacitor electrodes, which was published in and featured on the cover of Angewandte Chemie International Edition, and Adeel Ajaib and Bin He, honored for having the highest grade point averages, 4.0.
  • Jody Greaney, a doctoral student in biological sciences, received a pre-doctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association. The two-year award, for $23,000 a year, will support her dissertation research on the neural control of the cardiovascular system; and 
  • David Scheiblin, a doctoral student working on vision research, won a 2011 Student Award from the Microscopy Society of America.

Also, five graduate students brought home two awards from the Delaware Governor’s Entrepreneurial Conference. Voltaic Coatings, a company led by Keith Modzelewski, Rick Walsh, Patrick Lowry, Nandita Bhagwat and Chelsea Haughn, won “Best StudentPreneur” honors and Best Overall Business.

Apple also introduced:

  • Lynn Okagaki, the new dean of the College of Education and Human Development;
  • Bruce Weber, dean of the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics; and 
  • Babatunde Ogunnaike, who was recently named interim dean of the College of Engineering. 

“We are so fortunate to boast such talented students and faculty, and these were just a handful of the many honors achieved since we last met,” Apple said. “As always, thank you for the opportunity to share these accomplishments and appointments.”

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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