Public Higher Ed Institutions collaborate to benefit Delawareans

by Orlando J. George, Jr., President of Delaware Technical Community College, Patrick T. Harker, President of University of Delaware, and Harry L. Williams, President of Delaware State University

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Delaware’s three public institutions of higher education – University of Delaware (UD), Delaware State University (DSU) and Delaware Technical Community College – recognize that the state’s ability to grow its economy depends on jobs.

Creating new economic development opportunities and strengthening existing industries requires research to create and improve products, services and processes. Delaware’s economic growth also is dependent on the development of degree and short-term training programs that deliver a job-ready workforce.

It requires collaboration with government, non-profits and businesses to ensure educational offerings align and change with workforce needs. It requires collaboration among our three institutions.

UD, DSU and Delaware Tech partner across many areas to support the state’s economy and connect Delawareans with jobs.

Transfer Opportunities
There are 36 “connected degree” agreements in place that enable Delaware Tech associate degree graduates to seamlessly transfer as juniors into related bachelor degree programs at UD and DSU. Recent agreements include Science Education and Computer Science with future agreements planned in the areas of Management and Chemistry Education. Our faculty work closely together, ensuring that course requirements at all three institutions are aligned to support students and these agreements.

This collaboration results in many economic benefits – to both the students and the state – including opportunities for Delawareans to pay lower tuition for the first two years toward a bachelor’s degree and significant economic benefits that come from residents earning higher salaries connected to associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and advanced degrees.

Grant Partnerships
Our institutions partner to secure grant funds that advance key education and economic initiatives in the state. One example is Delaware’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program, a nine-year collaborative effort among UD, DSU, Delaware Tech and Wesley College, that continues to establish and expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career pathways for students statewide. This partnership also supports the state’s STEM education initiative to help students succeed in these high-wage, high-tech jobs. By working together, we created Biotechnology and Biological Sciences associate degree programs at Delaware Tech to prepare students to enter the workforce immediately or to seamlessly transfer to UD, DSU or Wesley to obtain their bachelor’s degree. The EPSCoR partnership also uses future-focused labor market research to help us make proactive strategic decisions regarding STEM workforce education and research and to support Delaware employers in continuing to be national leaders in the innovation economy.

Faculty Expertise
Faculty at UD, DSU and Delaware Tech contribute their subject matter expertise to serve on nearly 25 advisory committees across the three institutions. They join business and industry professionals on these committees to identify the knowledge, skills and abilities graduates need to be job-ready and successful in their related career fields. Advisory committees guide new program development and remain active throughout the life of academic programs, ensuring that programs are current as workforce needs change. Through the use of advisory committees, our institutions are able to produce graduates with the skills necessary to keep Delaware’s workforce competitive and leading-edge.

Student Success Initiatives
Additional collaborative efforts extend beyond our three institutions to benefit education and economic development statewide. One example is the state’s P20 council, an organization formed to coordinate educational efforts of publicly-funded programs from early care through higher education and to foster partnerships among groups concerned with public education. As council members, chief academic officers from UD, DSU and Delaware Tech are working with K-12, higher education, business, community and government leaders to advance student success and completion across all levels of education. Creating programs and services to help students achieve their educational goals is an important step toward connecting them with jobs and enhancing the state’s economic vitality.

As presidents of Delaware’s three publicly funded institutions of higher education, we are committed to working together across all areas of education to increase learning opportunities for students, provide job-ready graduates that meet the needs of the state’s workforce and advance key economic development strategies that connect Delawareans with jobs.