(Photo gallery) Officials praise JPMorgan Chase Innovation Center expansion

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A  ceremony marking of the expansion of the JPMorgan Chase Innovation Center on the University of Delaware Newark campus may have been  more than an expansion  of a long-running partnership.

Students of the Delaware corporate community may have   have viewed  the event  added  evidence of the financial services giant taking a leadership role that over the years had been held by companies like DuPont and MBNA (now bank of America).

With  sites throughout northern Delaware, JPMorgan Chase  has added thousands of jobs while other companies  have cut back.

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The head count is moving from 8,000 to 9,000, according to Michael  Zbranak, managing director, global technology for JPMorgan Chase. Of that number about 2,500 are working in the technology area.

The company’s involvement in the state began when J.P. Morgan himself worked with DuPont on finances during  World War I.

Later in the century,  JPMorgan Chase  expanded in Delaware by moving operations to the state and by  acquiring Bank One (First USA)  and First Chicago credit card units. The Chase card business is headquartered in Wilmington.

The 9,000 job  figure  would make JPMorgan Chase the state’s largest private for-profit employer as employment drops or stays stable  at Bank of America and DuPont.

At the ceremony, Gov. Jack Markell was lavish in his praise of  JPMorgan Chase and its role in the state.

Markell noted that company officials are “rolling up their sleeves”  in  helping the state build the workforce of the future.

The governor continued to praise Delaware as a good place for visit, adding that the work of JPMorgan Chase will help keep more University of Delaware graduates stay in a state where they can benefit from lower taxes and a lower cost of living.

Markell also mentioned his late father, who worked at Purnell Hall as a professor and head of the accounting department at what is now known as the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics.

Purnell Hall is one of two buildings  that house Lerner College, which is seeing  record enrollment this fall. The college is named after a Cleveland financier and  founder of MBNA.

Markell said his  father  would be proud to see the efforts under way at the Innovation Center.

The Innovation Center is designed for UD faculty and student collaboration  with JPMorgan Chase employees on projects and applied research. Several hundred UD students have participated in JPMorgan Chase internships since the partnership got under way.

According to JPMorgan Chase, students work 15 to 19 hours a  week during the school year and full time during the summer. The company’s goal   to convert 80 percent of these interns into full time employees after graduation.

Other efforts between  JPMorgan Chase and UD include:

  • Co-founding the UD Institute for Financial Services Analytics as well as a Financial Services Analytics Ph.D. Program
  • Launching a Global Enterprise Technology minor in Fall 2011 with 35 students enrolled for the Fall 2014 semester
  • Filling more than  650 Corporate Development Program roles with UD students since 2010, with about 280 in technology)

Completing  seven research projects to date with 1 currently in progress.

The Ph.D. program generated some controversy in academic circles when it was announced  in 2013. Critics claimed that JPMorgan Chase had too big a role in the program, Inside Higher Education reported.

UD officials defended the relationship, claiming it is nothing new in academia.

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