University of Delaware President Patrick Harker outlined updated plans for the STAR campus during a budget hearing in Dover on Monday.
The Science, Technology and Advanced Research campus at the former Chrysler plant in Newark has been touted as the premier site for health science, cybersecurity and alternative energy.
An updated master plan for the site was released last week. Plans include a mix of research, residential, restaurant, retail and greenspace.
“For more than 50 years, the Chrysler Assembly Plant provided Delaware with good jobs and a big economic impact,” Harker said. “Today, though the assembly line is gone, the site will continue to benefit Delaware as the place where we can grow and shape the economy of the 21st century.”
The campus has been slowly taking shape. Earlier this year, UD pulled the plug on a proposed data center, largely due to the public outcry of an accompanying 279-megawatt co-generation power plant.
Harker said they continue to make positive steps to move the STAR campus forward.
“Back in January, we opened the Health Sciences Complex, putting research and scholarship side-by-side with public facilities like our Nurse Managed Health Center and the Delaware Physical Therapy Clinic,” Harker said.
The site is tied together by its easy access to I-95 and the Newark train station.
“We see the STAR Campus as an intersection, where we can combine our strengths with those of the public and private sectors,” Harker said. “Through partnerships and collaborations, we know we can deliver high returns on the investments made by the state and others.”
Additional money for 2016
Harker is asking the state for $118.7 million in total operating costs for the university, a one percent increase over the 2015 budget.
Harker said the extra $1.17 million will go toward the Commitment to Delawareans program, which was established in 2006 in an effort to help more Delawareans attend college.
Through the program, UD college applications are provided at every public high school and UD admission counselors visit the schools to talk to high school students about higher education. This year application fees for high school seniors are waived through the end of this week.
“Enrollment trends shows these efforts are having their intended effect,” Harker said. “We received applications from every Delaware public high school for this year’s freshman class. “About three-quarters of Delaware’s college-bound students, about 3,000 of them this year, apply to UD.”
Of those, 90 percent are admitted to UD at both Newark campus or through their Associates of Arts program. The AA programs are taught at three satellite locations in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties.
In addition to helping students apply to UD, Harker said the Commitment to Delawareans programs helps make college more affordable by capping the student loans at 25% of the cost of the four year tuition at UD.
“This year, we anticipate investing almost $14 million in University operating funds to help families cover tuition at UD,” Harker said. “With the state’s contribution, this financial aid is benefiting about 3,250 students this year.”
Harker also asked the state for $15 million in capital budget requests, of which $9 million will go toward upgrading laboratory facilities.