UD wants 1 percent more: $120.1 million

DOVER — The University of Delaware is requesting $15 million in capital funding from the state, up from the $6 million it is receiving this fiscal year.

University administration came before state budget officials Tuesday for the institution’s annual budget hearing, during which leaders laid out the path for the future and detailed their requests for state funding.
Delaware’s operating proposal is, as requested by the state, just a 1 percent increase from the current year. The university was allocated $118.6 million this year and would receive $120.1 million under the proposal.

That 1 percent increase would go to general scholarships to fulfill the university’s commitment to Delawareans.

Of the $15 million for capital, $10 million would go to renovating four laboratories. Work on Cannon Lab, located at UD’s Lewes campus, has already begun, at a cost of $10.5 million.

University of Delaware president Nancy Targett

University of Delaware president Nancy Targett

“So about half of the amount, $5.2 million, has gone to upgrading infrastructure … repairing the leaky roof, upgrading the HVAC. The other has gone to renovating lab spaces and to bringing lab spaces up to par,” acting President Nancy Targett said of Cannon Lab.

Buildings are in need of expansion in some cases, particularly those that play a key part in the university’s focus on science and engineering fields. Of the university’s 100 largest buildings, there is a $570 million need in deferred maintenance.

Delaware has been without a permanent president since July, when Dr. Patrick Harker left to become the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Dr. Targett, the dean of the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, has been serving in the role on an interim basis.

The search is going well, she said, and a successor likely will be selected by the 15-member search committee within two months.

During the presentation, Dr. Targett touted the institution’s pledge to Delawareans. Financial aid to in-state students has grown by nearly five times in the past six years, and about 700 more Delaware applicants were accepted this year than in 2011.

Delaware is comparable to other large state schools in nearby states in tuition and other fees. In-state students pay an average of $12,520 per year, while individuals coming from out of state face an annual cost of $31,420 at the university.

“Between federal aid and aid from the state and aid from the university, we will cover — we ensure that a student does not leave the university with more than 25 percent debt of the total cost of affordable education,” said Kathy Detloff, chief budget officer at UD.

Dr. Targett cited increased diversity as evidence of the commitment to a positive atmosphere for all. UD has come under fire, as critics have accused the administration of not doing enough to promote diversity and make the campus friendly to non-white students.

“Diversity is my top priority,” Dr. Targett insisted.

The percentage of minority students at the university has increased by about 7 percent, up to 30 percent, from eight years ago.

The acting president noted the six-year graduation rate for all races at the university is above the national average, as is first-year retention rate. Budget officials appeared interested in the university’s commitment to keeping students beyond their freshman year, asking several questions about statistics.

Delaware is a top-100 research college nationwide, with more than $137 million in sponsored research last year, Dr. Targett said.

As a whole, however, Delaware is near the bottom in the percentage of degrees awarded in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math by large, prestigious schools. By percentage, fewer Delawareans have bachelor’s degrees than residents of Maryland or New Jersey, something Dr. Targett cited as wanting to change.

Budget hearings will continue on Thursday, with top officials from the judiciary, board of elections, National Guard and Delaware Geological Survey appearing in Legislative Hall.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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