The City of Wilmington, Delaware State University and the University of Delaware today signed an unprecedented pact that pledges mutual cooperation and assistance on various projects to benefit Wilmington and the residents and businesses which inhabit Delaware’s largest City. The agreement will also provide university students and faculty with new opportunities to participate in applied and practical research and service leading to immediate improvements in the operations of City government.
The mutual support agreement was signed today in the Mayor’s office in Wilmington by Mayor Mike Purzycki, City Council President Hanifa Shabazz, Delaware State University President Harry Lee Williams and University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis.
The agreement includes a number of ways the City and the two universities can work together, including:
- Partnering on projects such as fellowships, internships, research projects, studies, and grant applications
- Assisting the City with data collection and analysis to improve government efficiency and service delivery
- Utilizing the wide variety of experts from numerous fields that are available at each university to work with the City on a specific project
- Expanding the assignment of students as university fellows to the City for specific government projects which allow the students to gain real world government experience
- Establishing student internship opportunities which will teach young people about Wilmington’s government and foster affection and appreciation for Wilmington among those who will become the leaders of tomorrow.
“We began talking about the potential of this collaborative arrangement earlier this year and 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,” said Mayor Purzycki. “We need to bring about greater government efficiencies and to improve Wilmington’s service delivery to citizens. 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. The University of Delaware and Delaware State University will help us achieve many of our goals and well as theirs, which includes expanding the educational opportunities available to students.”
City Council President Hanifa Shabazz expressed support for the partnership by noting that City Council hosted one of the first Urban Policy Fellows from the University of Delaware, and has continued to work closely with graduate students over the past five years, engaging them in various legislative and policy projects. “If our past collaborations with the University of Delaware and Delaware State University are any indication, I am confident this partnership will bring tremendous value to Wilmington and its residents, businesses and visitors. Delaware is too small for its largest city not to collaborate with its two premier public research universities. I look forward to exploring the many ways we can work with these institutions and others in the future.”
UD President Dennis Assanis said the University is committed to partnering with the City and Delaware State University to help address Wilmington’s challenges and expand its opportunities. “The University of Delaware has a long and rich history of applying its knowledge and creativity to local communities across the state,” he said. “This expanded collaboration with Wilmington will bring together talented and dedicated people to develop and implement innovative ways to enhance the physical, social, economic and cultural vitality of the city and its neighborhoods.” Assanis said he is particularly pleased that this partnership will involve students from both universities who will work in the Wilmington city government under the guidance of city officials and university faculty and staff. “The students will add capacity to Wilmington city government and acquire the knowledge and practical experience needed to become future community leaders,” he said.
"I'm delighted that two natural partners like Delaware State University and University of Delaware will be working together on a continuous basis to tackle the economic and social challenges of Delaware's largest city,” said Delaware State University President Williams. “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."
Mayor Purzycki said while there will be a cost to the City for some of the collaborative efforts among the three entities, the agreement will save the City money in the long run. The Mayor 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.