UD: Our culture of inspiration and impact

AssanisCourtesy of the University of Delaware
President Dennis Assanis

From University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis.

This is a special time. We are now in the 275th year of the journey of the University of Delaware… a place where ideas are born, boundaries are pushed, and opportunities are unlocked. Our strong legacy of innovation and the pursuit of knowledge have served the university well for nearly three centuries, but what I am most excited about is the future.

This is not only a special time because of the awesome milestone in the institution’s history, but also because of where we are in its evolution. We are exploring new ways to teach and learn as we challenge the education paradigm with greater opportunities for interdisciplinary enrichment. Our beautiful campus is constantly reinventing itself, embracing tradition and realizing a shared vision to enhance the student experience. In short, we are connecting UD with the world – and the world with UD – in new and exciting ways every day.

With so much activity going on, I am inspired by what I experience on our campus. Every walk on our Green, every discussion with our esteemed faculty, every encounter with our talented students, every contribution of our dedicated staff, every opportunity we consider to advance the institution … all of this brings great energy and meaning as we foster a culture that is built for inclusion, connectivity and new adventures ahead.

What inspires you? Is it the thrill of learning something new or the lure of discovery? Perhaps it is the opportunity to shape the future, to forge a deeper connection with others or to become part of something larger than yourself. Whatever it may be, you are in the right place at the right time. Since our institution’s earliest roots back in 1743, UD has cultivated a community of idea giants who have inspired each other and — just as important — worked together to transform that inspiration into impact.

Today, our campus is defined by countless inspiring moments of creativity, teaching, research and service. As we embark on a new academic year at UD, I am inspired by all of you — your talent and curiosity, your passion and drive and your abiding commitment to make the world a better place. We just welcomed one of our largest classes ever at UD, 4,300 new Blue Hens on the Newark Campus and about 500 in the Associate in Arts program who are poised to make their mark on the world. Just this spring, more than 6,000 graduate and undergraduate students left the campus to do exactly that, embarking on a new chapter of their lives as UD alumni who will lead the charge of the next generation of leaders.

The next generation of our world is one that will be defined by many dynamic changes … the role of technology as a catalyst for innovation, the impact of globalization as an operational game-changer for business, the connectedness of cultural consciousness to make a difference and the power of ideas to become transformative with tangible impact. With this in mind, our university has no time for complacency. We must constantly challenge ourselves to create, evolve and reimagine in parallel fashion.

This pertains to every aspect of the UD experience…the people we attract, the buildings we construct, the programs we develop, the curricula we create and the graduates we advance to society. As a nexus of opportunity for education, business, community and culture, the UD campus does not only educate students, it empowers leaders. Our faculty do not only teach, they inspire. Our students do not only achieve, they challenge. And that is inspiring!

We cannot always predict what lies ahead, but I do know one thing: It will be extraordinary. Our diverse student community continues to evolve and grow with new thinking. New and renovated buildings such as those occurring on UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus and around The Green will continue to open doors for innovation and professional development…not just for any purpose, but for meaningful initiatives that impact society. Think next-generation medicines to prevent, treat or cure some of the most devastating diseases. Or new technologies and enterprises to accelerate the connectivity of “smart” cities. Or engaged and lasting partnerships with communities to advance arts, culture, education, well-being and resiliency. As businesses become campus neighbors, new internship possibilities will enrich learning and personal progress for our students. The list goes on.

This is a time for UD to be at its best. Sharing our intellectual experiences with each other is one of the great benefits of being part of a university community. Inspiration rarely hits us as a bolt of lightning out of a blue sky; it comes from somewhere. While we can’t force it to happen, we can foster a creative environment where ideas don’t just emerge; they bounce, collide, grow and thrive. Build on our culture of inclusiveness and surround yourself with open minds and curious perspectives; accumulate a deep and broad body of knowledge about the world; seek diverse experiences, take on internships and remain open to the possibility of transformation. In other words, never stop being a student!

The year ahead promises endless opportunities for both inspiration and impact. What will be the next big idea? Will it be yours? And what will you do with it? At the University of Delaware, those questions drive us every day. I can’t wait to see how you will answer them.

Dennis Assanis is the President of the University of Delaware.

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