September 2012


Dr. A. Richard Barros Named Trustee Emeritus

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In 1977, A. Richard Barros decided one way he could fulfill his desire to help eliminate discrimination and prejudice would be to serve on the DSU Board of Trustees. He felt that then-Delaware State College was not Board Vice Chair David G. Turner presents Trustee Emeritus Resolution to Dr. A. Richard Barros being treated fairly and that he could help reverse that trend. Then-Gov. Pierre duPont took him at his word, and appointed him to be on the DSC board. Dr. Barros recently ended his 3½-decade tenure on the DSU Board of Trustees, which has honored him by unanimously approving a resolution that elects him as trustee emeritus. The honor was bestowed on Dr. Barros during the board’s regular meeting on Sept. 13, two weeks after he stepped down from his 35 years of service as a trustee as a result of term limits that were established this year by the board. Dr. Claiborne D. Smith, board chair, praised Dr. Barros for his outstanding service and noted that the trustee emeritus was particularly helpful to him over the years. “He was a personal mentor to me when I first came on the board,” Dr. Smith said. “His encouragement over the years helped keep my energy level very high in terms of work on the board.” Dr. Barros said it has been a pleasure to work with his fellow trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students in the positive development of the institution. “I am so proud of where DSU is at this point,” Dr. Barros said. “We have accomplished a great deal, and I have never felt better about this University than I do now. “ After his initial 1977 appointment to the board, he was reappointed by Gov. duPont and Gov. Michael N. Castle for additional terms of office until 1994. Around that time, Dr. Barros determined that he wanted his service on the board to be free from dependence on political appointments, and he asked to be appointed by the board. He would remain a board appointment through his remaining 18 years as a trustee. During his tenure, Dr. Barros has served as a board vice chairman, as a longtime chair of the Education Policy Committee, and as a member of the Executive, Student Affairs, and the former Trustees Faculty committees. Among his many important contributions to the University were: his service on the Middle States Self-Study Steering Committee and assistance in the writing of the self-study that led to the reaffirmation of the institution’s accreditation in 2002;  his service as a member of three presidential search committees;  and his 18 years on the University’s federally mandated Internal Review Board, which reviewed all of the institution’s research and studies to protect the welfare and treatment of research subjects. It was the result of Dr. Barros’ initiative that bi-annual meetings were established in the mid-2000s between the board’s Education Policy Committee and the Executive Committee of the DSU Faculty Senate. Dr. Barros’ service to the institution even extended to the classroom where he served as an adjunct associate professor of aviation science at the University. As DSU board member, Dr. Barros has served as a presenter at national conferences of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges covering the subjects  of  “University Security and Premise’s Liability” and “How to Avoid Litigation at a University.” The institution recognized his many contributions to the University in 1991 by awarding him an honorary Doctor of Law. Throughout his tenure, Dr. Barros represented DSU and its board well as an active participant in community affairs and charitable causes. Dr. Barros recently retired from a long and distinguished career as an attorney and lead partner in the law firm of Barros McNamara Malkiewicz & Taylor, P.A.; and In addition to recognizing Dr. Barros for many of the abovementioned accomplishments and dedicated service, the resolution approved by the board on Sept. 13 also noted, “During his long service on the Board, Dr. Barros has demonstrated great dedication and collegiality and has provided highly valued counsel to the deliberations of the Board.”

Brenda Farmer Honored as 2012 Black Achiever

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DSU turned out in support of Brenda Farmer's Black Achiever honor. Seated are (l-r) Dr. Mabel Morrison, Ms. Farmer's son Amillion Mayfield, Brenda Farmer, Allen Ward; (standing l-r) Jane Downs, Dr. Marshall Stevenson along with his wife Lynda, and Germaine Cheatham.

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Jeff Johnson, White House correspondent, presents DSU's Brenda Farmer with a 2012 Black Achiever Award. Mr. Johnson was the keynote speaker. Brenda Farmer, DSU director of Events and Ceremonies, constantly makes the University shine with the way she organizes a wide variety of programs on campus. On Sept. 19 it was Ms. Farmer’s turn to shine as she was honored as a 2012 Black Achiever. The annual Black Achievers in Business and Industry awards is sponsored by the YMCA of Delaware to honor men and women who succeed in both business and community involvement. The Sept. 19 ceremony, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, paid tribute to 20 such achievers, including Ms. Farmer. Jeff Johnson, investigative reporter, White House correspondent and social activist, was the featured speaker of the event. “Brenda Farmer coordinates and choreographs many of the major events on campus, giving her creative touch that represents the University so well,” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, DSU president. “She constantly makes DSU look good to the public and is therefore instrumental in the connection DSU maintains with the communities in Dover and throughout Delaware.” Ms. Farmer is a Delaware State University Hornet through and through. She has earned a BA in Mass Communications and a Master of Social Work, both from DSU. A 19-year-employee of the University, after working in a number of administrative professional positions, Ms. Farmer spent some time in the Office of Admissions where achieved celebrity status with prospective and new students and their families through her campus tours and her Parent Bus Tours of Dover. It is estimated that Ms. Farmer helped introduce the campus and the local Dover area to more than 10,000 students and their parents. In her current post, Ms. Farmer works in the University’s Division of Institutional Advancement. “Brenda is an exceptional event planner and never fails to amaze and wow us with her creative energy,” said Carolyn Curry, vice president of Institutional Advancement. “She is truly DSU’s secret marketing weapon!” Ms. Farmer is the recipient of the Presidential Gold Medal, as well as several DSU Employee of the Year awards. She is also known for her volunteer work and social work assistance in the Dover community.

Proudford Foundation Honors DSU's OrphageniX for Sickle Cell Research

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Dr. Eric Kmiec (third from the left) stands with his DSU researcher: (l-r) research associates Bryan Strouse, Rohina Niamat, Pawel Bialk; post doctorate researcher Dr. Dula Man, and doctoral student Shani Samuel.  

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OrphageniX, a biotechnology company based at Delaware State University, has been presented the Proudford Foundation Award for Research for its work in developing treatments for sickle cell disease.   Dr. Eric Kmiec, chair of the DSU Department of Chemistry and co-founder of OrphangeniX, accepted the award on behalf of the company’s research staff at the foundation’s annual awards dinner on Sept. 20 in Baltimore, Md. Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, DSU dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology; Dr. Eric Kmiec, chair of the DSU Dept. of Chemistry and co-founder of OrphageniX; Karen Proudford, president of the Proudford Foundation Board of Directors, and DSU Provost Alton Thompson, celebrate the award.   The Proudford Foundation was established in the memory of DSU alumnus William E. Proudford, who passed away in 2004 at age 76 after a long and brave fight against sickle cell disease. Mr. Proudford graduated from then-Delaware State College with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1974.   The scientific basis for OrphageniX was born in the Kmiec laboratory during the mid-1990s. The Kmiec group is well known for its work in the area of human gene therapy and molecular medicine. The company pioneered the concept of gene editing, a molecular process in which a synthetic piece of DNA is introduced into a human cell in order to direct the correction of a genetic mutation that causes an inherited disease. The repair of this inborn error in the chromosome can be thought of as a genetic “spell check” in which the misspelling of the word (or gene) is simply corrected and the disease state reversed.   During the time period between 2000-2006, the Kmiec lab studied and deciphered the molecular mechanism of action – how gene editing actually takes place inside the human cell. This effort was supported by multiple, peer-reviewed (R01) research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the highest level of scientific validation for any technology or research project. The Proudford Research Award has recognized this pioneering effort.   “The early years were challenging as the technology was matured, but now that gene editing has entered the mainstream of science, it was a worthwhile journey,” Dr. Kmiec said.   OrphageniX is now focused on creating a genetic treatment for sickle cell disease, a disorder caused by a single base mutation (misspelling) in a single gene – that is, a misspelled word in the genetic code. Funding for OrphageniX came from a small number of Delaware angel investors; no venture capital money has been put into OrphageniX. The company is privately held and is now an attractive investment opportunity. OrphageniX is now working with DSU and A.I. DuPont/Nemours Children’s Hospital to develop a unique partnership to apply gene editing to sickle cell disease focused in the Delaware Valley region.   This combination brings together strong basic scientists and highly respected clinicians with the central, interdisciplinary theme of translating this validated technology toward clinical application. DSU students, primarily African-American, are heavily involved in this project. OrphageniX is fundamentally committed to helping minority students pursue a career in gene therapy in support of inherited diseases such as sickle cell disease particularly at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.   “We are gratified that the Proudford Foundation has recognized the cutting-edge work that the DSU-based OrphageniX is doing in the area of sickle cell disease,” said Dr. Alton Thompson, DSU provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “I am certain that more positive developments are to come from this innovative biotechnology company as it seeks and finds significant advances against this disease.”   The mission of the Baltimore-based Proudford Foundation is to support sickle cell awareness, education, state-of-the-art treatment and research, and to bring hope to families affected by the devastating disease.

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