Faculty Senate gives thumbs down to proposed TDC facility

9:52 a.m., May 7, 2014–The University of Delaware Faculty Senate unanimously approved a resolution recommending that the University not proceed with the construction of The Data Centers project with a power-generating facility on the Science, Research and Advanced Technology (STAR) Campus.

The resolution, which was approved by a 43-0 vote with eight abstentions, came during the last regular meeting of the spring semester, held Monday, May 5, in Gore Hall.

As amended, the resolution states “that the University Faculty Senate recommends that The Data Center project not be constructed on the STAR Campus as long as it includes the construction of any fossil fuel burning power plant on the STAR Campus.”

Michael Chajes, professor of civil and environmental engineering and author of the amended substitute resolution, addressed an audience that included members of the UD faculty and state and local elected representatives.

“This resolution speaks to the core values of our University,” Chajes said. “As a local resident, it is something I feel very passionate about, and regardless how it comes out, I think it is inconsistent with what we stand for.”

The resolution addressed concerns regarding the amount of CO2 that would be generated by the proposed 248-megawatt gas-fired power plant as being inconsistent with UD’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, Chajes said.

“We haven’t had a sustained discussion when we are talking about core values,” Chajes said. “We need to have these discussions.”

Newark City Council members who spoke briefly included Robert Gifford of District 3 and Margrit Hadden of District 4. State Rep. John A. Kowalko Jr., who represents Newark south in Legislative District 25, also spoke to members of the senate about the project.

The Data Centers LLC has proposed a data storage and management center on the STAR Campus that would include a cogeneration facility to supply power. UD has formed an internal working group as part of its continuing evaluation of the proposed construction and operations plans.

New Faculty Senate officers

Officers elected at the Faculty Senate’s final meeting of the 2013-14 academic year include: president-elect, Robert Opila, professor of materials science; vice president, Prasad Dhurjati, professor of chemical and biomolecular energy; secretary, Anu Sivaraman, assistant professor of business administration; and Brian Hanson, professor of geography, Committee on Committees chair and member-at-large. Fred Hofstetter will serve as president for the 2014-15 academic year.

Teaching and advising awards

Senate President Deni Galileo, associate professor of biological sciences, announced the recipients for the 2013-14 Excellence in Teaching Awards, Excellence in Advising Awards and graduate student Excellence in Teaching Awards. (See related article.)

A special guest at Monday’s meeting was Jon Olson, the first president of the Faculty Senate. Galileo introduced him and announced that the senate’s Excellence in Service Award has been renamed, in his honor, the Jon Olson Faculty Senate Exemplary Service Award.

Olson then presented the newly named award to this year’s recipient, Steven E. Hastings, professor of applied economics and statistics.

Provost remarks

Provost Domenico Grasso updated senators on admissions and offered a look at the Class of 2018.

“We have had an exciting conclusion to our admissions season this year,” Grasso said. “Our yield of non-resident students is up from 18 percent to 21 percent. We have over 4,200 deposits, and we hope to matriculate 4,060 students, which is 185 students over our target of 3,875 students.”

Grasso noted that incoming SAT scores average 1,821, and the 3.62 grade point average is up 0.02 percent.

“The Class of 2018 will be the second most diverse class ever, with 22 percent being students of color,” Grasso said.  “The number of honor students also increased dramatically to 26 percent.”

Grasso also discussed a recently submitted $70 million grant proposal to the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.

“There are over 100 partners,” Grasso said. “This is very exciting and is being led by Jack Gillespie. The title is ‘Clean Action Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Composite Materials Construction.’”

The issues of changing titles for new faculty members who will hold non-tenure track positions also was addressed by Grasso, who referred senators to a letter posted on the Provost website.

Deputy Provost Nancy Brickhouse and Donald L. Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, presented an update on the Responsibility Based Budget Task Force.

“After reviewing an External Review Committee report, the Faculty Senate Responsibility Based Budget Report and other relevant documents, and holding multiple meetings, the RBB task force formulated a set of recommendations to guide the development of the new RBB model,” Brickhouse said. “The recommendations address the distribution of revenue, the use of centrally allocated funds and support for central administrative units.”

Sparks noted that the interim report represents the first step in achieving greater transparency and clearer communication regarding how budgetary decisions are made to advance excellence in academic and scholarly activity at UD.

The final report is expected to be completed by Feb. 1, 2015, and will be published on the Office of the Provost website.

Consent agenda

Several items were approved during the consent agenda portion of the meeting, including requests to revise the bachelor of arts (BA) in social welfare, environmental science, environmental studies, women and gender studies, economics, computer science, Latin American and Iberian Studies and early childhood education.

Requests to revise the related work requirements of the BA in sociology, the domestic prevention and services concentration within the women and gender studies major, and to add math options to the BA in economics education and add honors majors in environmental science and environmental studies, also gained approval.

Also passed were requests to revise majors in chemical engineering, applied nutrition, dietetics, nursing, hotel and restaurant management, biomedical engineering degree program, to add a nine-credit undergraduate certificate program in molecular diagnostics, and to revise the bachelor of science (BS) major in environmental science.

Requests to revise the BS majors in management information systems, economics, finance, computer science, add math requirements to the BS major in food and agribusiness management, and to add an undergraduate certificate program in premedical health, were approved.

A request to revise the math requirement for the economics concentration, economic theory and econometrics, was approved.

Senators gave the green light to the addition of minors in cybersecurity, global studies with language, global studies, aerospace military leadership and data analytics. Request to revise minors in art history, interactive media, international business, and entrepreneurial studies were approved.

Also approved were requests to revise the professional science master in biotechnology and the master of science in biological sciences concentration, molecular biology and genetics, and to create a concentration for the master of education in exceptional children and youth.

Requests were approved to add an interdisciplinary graduate certificate program in renewable energy engineering and policy, and a new graduate certificate in railroad engineering, and to revise the certificate in biotechnology.

Senators approved requests to revise the doctorate in medical laboratory sciences and biological sciences concentrations in chemistry-biology interface, cell and organ system, and molecular biology and genetics.

Regular agenda

During the regular agenda portion of the regular meeting, senators gave the green light to granting permanent status for the bachelor of arts degree in public policy and environmental studies.

Permanent status for bachelor of science majors in neuroscience, food science, animal and food science and pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences also was approved.

A request to change the name of hospitality industry studies to hospitality industry management was approved, as was a request to add a master of science in entrepreneurship and design. Also getting the go ahead was a request for a uniform senate policy requiring chair and dean approval for new and revised academic programs.

Requests to change to name of the honors degree in wildlife conservation to the honors degree in wildlife ecology and conservation, and the honors degree in entomology to the honors degree in insect ecology and conservation, also were approved.

Galileo thanked all members of the senate and senate committees for their work over the year.

“The senate has transacted much business and has accomplished quite a lot,” Galileo said. “The University could not function without your service.”

Galileo also remarked on his experience serving as senate president.

“It has been an awesome responsibility to be senate president. Nothing I have done up to now prepared me adequately for this job,” Galileo said. “I hope, however, that I at least was able to approach your expectations.”

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photo by Ambre Alexander Payne

(Editor’s note: For more detailed information, including meeting minutes, visit the Faculty Senate website.)

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