Wilmington, UD, Del. State propose ‘unprecedented pact’

 The city and Wilmington and Delaware's two leading universities want to work together to benefit each other. (File/WHYY)

The city and Wilmington and Delaware's two leading universities want to work together to benefit each other. (File/WHYY)

The city of Wilmington and Delaware’s two leading universities have agreed to forge what officials are calling an “unprecedented pact” to work together on projects that benefit the schools and the city’s residents and businesses.

The city announced its proposed public policy partnership with the University of Delaware and Delaware State University Wednesday. Wilmington leaders hope City Council will approve the agreement later this month.

The deal, should it come to fruition, would give students and faculty new opportunities to participate in applied and practical research and service that could improve city government operations.

Mayor Mike Purzycki said there will be an unspecified cost to city taxpayers for some of the collaborative efforts, but predicted the proposed deal would save Wilmington money in the long run.

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Purzycki said university resources will be available at less expense than what the city pays for contracting with private firms. He said the agreement has the potential to benefit the city and universities well into the future.

Among the ways the city and schools envision working together:

• Partnering on projects such as fellowships, internships, research projects, studies, and grant applications.

• Assisting the city with data collection and analysis to improve efficiency and service delivery.

• Utilizing experts from numerous fields to work with the city.

• Expanding the assignment of students as university fellows to the city for government projects that allow the students to gain real world government experience.

• Establishing student internship opportunities to teach youngsters about city government and foster affection and appreciation for Delaware’s largest city.

“It just made sense to many of us that we should harness the talent and resources of these two wonderful universities to work hand-in-hand with the city,” Purzycki said. “We have to be more creative and open to new ways of conducting the business of government, and to learn how to operate the government with fewer dollars.”

Harry Williams, Delaware State’s president, agreed.

“The strengths that each partner brings to the table are both complementary and necessary and we expect will be of significant value to the city of Wilmington as well as staff, faculty and students at both institutions.”

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