September 2011


Del. Aviation Hall of Fame Honors DSU's Dr. Dan Coons and Student

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Dr. Daniel E. Coons (l), founding director of the DSU Aviation Program, has been inducted into the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame. Willie Gonzalez, sophomore DSU aviation major, has been presented with the 2011 Youth Achievement Award by the same organization.

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    The Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame has honored Dr. Daniel E. Coons, the founder of Delaware State University’s Aviation Program, as part of its 2011 induction class.   In addition, the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame also honored DSU sophomore aviation major Willie Gonzalez with its 2011 Youth Achievement Award.   Dr. Coons and Mr. Gonzalez were honored along with five other honorees during its 12th annual Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Banquet on Sept. 24 at the University of Delaware’s Clayton Hall in Newark.   Dr. Coons was the founding director of the then-Airway Science Program at DSU from 1987 to 1992. After leaving DSU for a few years to do consultant work in Egypt, Dr. Coons returned to the University to serve as the special assistant for aviation to the DSU Provost from 1995-2005. Even after his retirement in 2005, Dr. Coons has continued to volunteer his time with the DSU Aviation Program   Considered a visionary in the development of the program, his creative proposals have resulted in the University’s acquisition of 10 aircrafts, making DSU the only Historically Black University or College in the country that owns and maintains its own fleet of aircraft.   “Being honored by my colleague in the Delaware Hall of Fame, my brother pilots, is one of the greatest honors of my life,” Dr. Coons said. “This program made it possible for a lot of young men and women to fly and pursue aviation careers, who otherwise may not have been able to afford such training at other places.”   Since its inception the DSU Aviation Program has produced more than 100 graduates with professional pilots or airway management degrees. The vast majority of those students have gone on to work in some facet of the aviation industry.   Dr. Coons, who was nominated to the Hall of Fame by retired Brig. Gen. Ernest G. Talbert of Bear, Del., was inducted along with NASA astronaut Col. Nancy J. Currie, World War II pilots John E. Knoening and David F. McCallister (posthumous), and Vietnam War helicopter pilots John A. Jordan and John P. Renzetti.   Mr. Gonzalez, a 2010 graduate of William Penn High School, was nominated for the Youth Achievement Award by Maj. Steven J. Michael, senior aerospace science instructor at the high school.   "Willie Gonzalez proved himself to be a superb leader in JROTC, and with his success in the DSU Aviation Program, I felt he was a natural to be nominated for the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Youth Achievement Award," Maj. Michael said. "Willie has demonstrated a natural ability to lead and motivate his peers and is most deserving of this award."   Mr. Gonzalez has demonstrated great motivation in his aviation education pursuits, both in high school ROTC and in DSU’s Aviation Program. Even after enrolling at DSU in the fall of 2010, he still returns to his high school frequently to give back to his William Penn ROTC Program by sharing his experience with the students.   Now at age 19 and just beginning his sophomore year in the DSU Aviation Program, Mr. Gonzalez has already earned his Private Pilot Rating and his Instrument Rating.   “This honor encourages me, because it lets me know I am going in the right direction and it gives me more motivation to continue,” Mr. Gonzalez said.  

DSU Awarded $500,000 to Establish new Economic Development Center

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    The Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded Delaware State University a $500,000 grant to fund the establishment of a DSU Center for Economic Development and Trade on campus.   The new Center – which will be based in the University’s College of Business – will take a long-term strategic view of economic forces and will focus on providing state and local governments and other public and non-public organizations with timely economic information and reliable analysis.   DSU President Harry L. Williams said that the U.S. Department of Commerce grant will financially empower University to apply its intellectual resources to promote the economic well-being of the state of Delaware.   “This will be another way that the University will be able to work to fulfill its Vision Statement goal of invigorating the economy of Delaware by providing valuable information that will help guide entities in the state toward making sound and prudent economic decisions,” Dr. Williams said.   The grant was written by Dr. Michael Casson, the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, and Dr. Nanda Viswanathan, professor of marketing. Dr. Casson said the DSU Center for Economic Development and Trade will serve the people of Delaware by improving their understanding of the state's economy while supporting Delaware’s efforts to make the First State the first choice of the global business community.    “To this end, the University Center for Economic Development and Trade will develop, and ultimately highlight through its First State Updates, State economy models and analyses, economic data banks, workforce development initiatives and international trade strategies for small to mid-sized enterprises,” said Dr. Casson, who is also an associate professor of economics. “The University Center will leverage the expertise available at DSU to equip the public and decision makers with timely information and reliable analyses necessary for efficient and thoughtful discussions surrounding public-policy issues.” The University Center will have seven main areas of responsibility: To compile data required to monitor and forecast economic developments in Delaware, specifically Kent and Sussex Counties To maintain models of the State's economy with specific attention to Kent and Sussex Counties, which the Center would use to conduct empirical analyses for State, municipal, and private groups. To serve state agencies, municipal governments, non-profit and private organizations and Delaware citizens through the data bank, research, publications, and outreach of the University Center’s Data Center. To develop and enhance marketable job skills through workforce development and coordination efforts with public and private providers To support entrepreneurial efforts through the provision of incubator type services such as marketing research, accounting, project management and IT services. Promote international trade amongst small to medium-sized enterprises through research and training. To promote Kent and Sussex County economies, through the Center’s First State Updates. The Center will build partnerships with state agencies, municipal governments, non-profits and private organization provide an array of resources for state print and electronic media, offer professional development workshops, and collaborate on research projects for the benefit of the people of Delaware.  

DSU Welcomes Dr. Eric Kmiec as New Chemistry Chair

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Dr. Eric Kmiec is a recipient of many research and community service awards and hold numerous patents. He has also established several biotechnology companies.

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    Dr. Eric B. Kmiec, an established scientist, inventor, leader and entrepreneur, has been appointed professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry at Delaware State University.   Dr. Kmiec will begin his DSU tenure on Oct. 15, said Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, who added the new department chairperson will be a “great addition” to DSU, Kent County and the state of Delaware.   “With his vast experience, and scientific knowledge, he will contribute to the growth of DSU’s STEM efforts, both in terms of quality and impact,” Melikechi said. “I am confident that as the new chair of the Department of Chemistry, Professor Kmiec will provide the leadership necessary to make the Department a first-class unit on campus.”    Prior to his arrival, Dr. Kmiec was the director of the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research at Marshall University from 2009-2011, where pioneering biotechnology advances were made under his leadership. Dr. Kmiec is a renowned expert in gene editing – a technique that employs synthetic DNA molecules to repair mutations in human chromosomes. His research aims to identify therapies for diseases including Huntington’s disease, Muscular Dystrophy, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. A recipient of many research and community service awards, Kmiec holds upwards of 60 patents.    He also established several biotechnology companies including OrphageniX Inc. of which he is co-founder. Prior to his arrival to Marshall University in 2009, he was a professor of biology at the University of Delaware and director of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.    “In bringing Dr. Kmiec here to lead our Department of Chemistry, such a caliber of scientist sends a clear message concerning the direction of the Delaware State University in its research and STEM endeavors,” said Dr. Alton Thompson, DSU provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “Exciting new developments will occur as the result of his presence in the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology.”  

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