Engineering UD's Future
Heading toward his junior year as the president, Pat Harker is forming partnerships that will give the school an international reputation. (If it can just get its hands on that Chrysler plant…)
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In the summer of 2006, the UD board began a hands-on search for Roselle’s successor. Cosgrove invited Harker to Newark. “He (Harker) said, ‘The last time I was here was 30 years ago, when [legendary coach] Tubby Raymond tried to recruit me to play football,’” says Cosgrove. “We knew what he had accomplished at Wharton, and that he was the type of leader we needed.”
Where Raymond failed, Cosgrove and company succeeded. In addition to running the show, Harker is an appointed professor in business and engineering at UD. He plans to resume teaching later this year. With his wife a schoolteacher in New Jersey and their three kids in college, education is as natural as breathing to the president. So is his eagerness to tap potential.
We want to unleash the creativity of people around here,” says Harker, who fills a room and speaks with smooth assuredness. He explains that a vibrant organization is one in which “people move easily across departmental boundaries.”
That spirit is fundamental to the Path to Prominence and to Harker’s thinking. But to meet the university’s lofty goals, it will take more than motivation and enlightened planning. A new capital campaign is on the horizon. The “quiet” phase gets underway this summer, says Monica Taylor, vice president for development and alumni relations. That’s the period, two to three years, during which private gifts are gathered in advance of the public phase. UD hopes that quiet time induces donors to make some noise.
“We’ll be testing how our messages resonate with alumni and the community,” says Taylor, who followed Harker to UD from Wharton, where she headed development. “By the time we get to the public phase, we’ll know our priorities. We’ll have the [needed dollar] figures.”
Taylor expects “some core needs will bubble to the top,” such as scholarships and endowed chairs. Candidates for construction include a new undergraduate science lab, which she calls a top priority, and expansion of the athletic complex for both training and counseling.
Alumni, a population that Taylor and Harker cultivated at Wharton, will be central to the UD fundraising effort. Next month, the school will hold its inaugural Alumni Weekend to kick off a new era of relations.
“We will reach out in a much more aggressive way to alumni. The giving will follow the connecting,” promises the president, who sees the relationship as two-way. “Alumni can build connections for themselves as well as our students.”
The UD wish list runs deeper still. Now that automotive operations have ceased at the Daimler Chrysler plant, UD is eyeing the 270-acre property, which could reshape the university’s southern gateway and provide space currently unavailable to some business-research partners. An expanded presence in southern Delaware is the focus of a task force and a special committee of the UD board. And the road to a law school has a few early markers. Faculty from across the university are evaluating the need and desire to bolster legal education and research.
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