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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Last October, UD, Christiana Care Health System, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and Thomas Jefferson University established the Delaware Valley Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, an effort aimed at developing new therapies and translating scientific discoveries into more effective health care. Harker says the consortium may do no less than “change the practice of medicine.”
A month earlier, UD and Jefferson had formed a partnership to explore medical research projects and additional combined academic programs in a range of health services. Earlier in ’08, the schools created a combined degree program, speeding the way to a doctorate in pharmacy for UD students.
Not all UD partnerships are about academics. The university and the city of Newark have been examining traffic safety issues around the core of the campus and posing solutions to DelDOT.
Collaboration clearly is a hallmark of the Harker style. So is his willingness to seek recognition for others. Harker says that his faculty is “hungry for increased visibility.” If so, their table manners are impeccable.
And given their level of achievement, many of the profs could be excused for expecting a higher profile. Engineering professor John Gillespie, for example, boasts a list of patents, papers and books longer than the arm of an NBA center. A professional survey recently ranked his Center for Composite Materials as the top research site of its kind in the nation. The low-key Gillespie likes the course his president has set.
“He wants institution-based partnerships to stimulate economic activity,” Gillespie says. “It makes us more visible in terms of how the rest of the world views us. He’s bringing that perspective to the university—high impact.”
The environment will be another important piece of the Harker plan. John Byrne, director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, is determining the university’s “carbon footprint” per a study funded by the class of 2008. Once the baseline is established, the school will know how it needs to adjust to stay on the right side of global warming.
“President Harker made the commitment to sustainable levels [of greenhouse gas emissions],” says Byrne, who shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in climate change. “His leadership builds upon university assets and gives us more clout to attract funding.”
While thinking green prevails, greenery graces the Newark campus in springtime. The physical legacy of the Roselle years commands the view: the Roselle Center for the Arts, the blend of Georgian and modern architecture that marks Lerner and Gore halls, 500-bed George Read Hall, the Bob Carpenter Center, and others.
At stately Hullihen Hall, the relative quiet belies the imperative of planning and acting. In the president’s office, Pat Harker is busy wiring the school for a changing world. The pipe fitter’s son is making sure all the pieces fit.