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UD extends President Assanis’ contract

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University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis will serve through at least 2026 after receiving a contract extension this week. | PHOTO COURTESY OF EVAN KRAPE/UD

NEWARK – University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis received a vote of confidence from the university’s board of trustees this week, after they extended his contract for five more years.

Assanis, who came to lead the state’s flagship university in 2016, will now serve until at least 2026. His original contract was set to expire in June.

“I know I speak for the entire UD Board of Trustees when I say how very pleased we are to share the news that President Dennis Assanis will continue leading the University of Delaware for the next five years,” said John Cochran, board chairman, in a statement announcing the extension. “From the day he arrived at UD, Dennis has been a catalyst for positive change, elevating leadership, passion and vision to an entirely new level. He is not only an inspirational leader, but also a collaborator. By igniting a shared vision among the UD community for the future of the University, Dennis’ talented leadership has connected strategic goals with actions to successfully position UD for excellence, growth and transformative impact.”

Before coming to UD, Assanis served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University in New York and as vice president for Brookhaven National Laboratory Affairs, a federal research facility connected to Stony Brook. He previously taught and conducted research at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He took over the president’s seat at UD from Patrick Harker, who left to become president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. In his tenure, Assanis has led a campaign of growth in enrollment, especially among minority students who have increased by 15%, and capital investment, including building new residence halls, labs and athletic centers while upgrading the school’s football stadium. Development of the STAR Campus has also steadily increased with the addition of the Chemours Discovery Lab, UD’s College of Health Sciences STAR Tower and the future FinTech Center among other projects.

Assanis will also now lead UD through a four-year period in which the university’s most-famous alumni, Joe Biden, serves as president. In his initial five years, the two have founded the Biden Institute and renamed the university’s School of Public Policy and Administration after the then-former vice president. Assanis has said that he expects to leverage UD’s Biden connection to help boost its profile and drive enrollment interest to even greater heights.

The university’s 28th president has also had to deal with unprecedented challenges though, including how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic that prevented many students from attending in-person courses, causing a $250 million budget deficit. The university rolled out a virus testing plan to track and contain the spread on the Newark campus, but outbreaks tested UD’s ability to return to normal operations through much of the current academic year.

Assanis recently told the university community that he expects to welcome all students back to campus next fall, as vaccination efforts nationwide have ramped up and cases decline.

“I could not be more excited to lead and continue on the great journey of an extraordinary university with so many talented faculty, staff and students,” Assanis said in a statement. “UD uniquely connects human values with intellectual curiosity, innovative spirit, cultural enlightenment and purpose-driven impact. In many ways, we are only at the beginning of great things to come, and I am grateful to the Board of Trustees and inspired by our entire community for their continued support to help us all go forward, together.”

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