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UD asking for huge boost in funding in 2023 state budget

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media

The University of Delaware is seeking tens of millions in funding for major construction and maintenance projects.

UD presented its budget requests this week as the Carney administration prepares its recommended budget for 2023.

President Dennis Assanis says UD is looking to bolster the state’s workforce coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the education and healthcare sectors.

“These two areas of the workforce have been experiencing shortages for some time — and the pandemic only made it worse,” he says. “Delaware needs more workers in these fields, and UD can help.”

UD is seeking almost $9 million for its education and healthcare programs. Assanis also wants another $9 million to increase access to financial aid, expand the Associate in Arts program and address academic challenges he expects incoming students will face because of learning loss in high school.

The university only received an extra $1 million in its budget this fiscal year, and just $2 million the year before. The last time lawmakers passed a budget bill before the effects of the pandemic, UD saw a $4 million increase to its general fund.

Assanis says they also want to quickly bring back funding to address critical building maintenance needs.

“In many of these laboratories, we need to upgrade HVAC systems to accommodate special lab equipment, and also to comply with these requirements during this pandemic time,” Assanis says.

The university doubled its budget for maintenance in 2017 to help modernize learning spaces, and the state helped by doubling its contribution as well, but funding was cut during the pandemic.

Assanis is asking for an additional $5 million from the state to help create better STEM labs for students. Because of an influx in one-time funds this year, lawmakers gave UD $15 million in maintenance funding, up from $10 million the year before.

The university also hopes the state will chip in for a new, interdisciplinary STEM building, which Assanis says would foster collaboration between disciplines. UD is asking the state to pay a quarter of the $165 million cost.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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