Delaware Public Media

UD asks for state funding for biopharma building

May 18, 2018

The University of Delaware is hoping the state will pitch in to fund a new biopharma building.

UD is asking for $60 million in taxpayer dollars.

UD President Dennis Assanis says the university was planning to fully fund the Biopharmaceutical Innovation Building. But last year’s fire in McKinly Hall will cost the school about $120 million.

Assanis said the biopharma building needs to be built now to take advantage of the emerging biopharmaceutical industry and that’s why he’s asking for state help.

“I think this is a once-in-a generation transformational opportunity for the state of Delaware," he said. "We’ve got to get out of the mindset that you know we’re a small state with not great prospects for our children and give them the jobs of the future.”

Assanis adds he hopes the building will advance efforts to mass produce biopharmaceuticals, which are made out of living cells.

Some Delaware lawmakers point to the university’s $1 billion endowment, saying it has enough resources to fund the construction itself. Sen. David Sokola questions why UD should get taxpayer funding for this building - or perhaps at all.

“I’ve never had a response from Del Tech or Del State that they’re private," he said. "You know, they've always considered themselves a public university and they’re I think a little bit more open, a little bit more transparent.”

Assanis said the university was set up to be state supported but governed privately.

Other legislators counter that UD is a economic engine that helps create good paying jobs.