Delaware State University to acquire Wesley College

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(Due to an editing error (failure to check a box), the lead story was not included in the earlier newsletter)

Delaware State University and Wesley College have announced a merger agreement, subject to a number of conditions.

The two Dover institutions had earlier confirmed that talks were taking place.

The Definitive Agreement calls for Delaware State University’s acquisition of Wesley College no later than June 30, 2021.

Prior to the actual acquisition, both institutions will look for ways to cut costs. DSU will also seek financial assistance to complete the acquisition to avoid weakening its financial condition.

“Despite so much uncertainty on many fronts nationally, this is a unique opportunity for the University and the State of Delaware. The time for bold innovation for young people is now, particularly for students who have made it to college by sheer determination against sometimes enormous odds,” said Delaware State University President Tony Allen.

Wesley President Bob Clark stated, “When this Definitive Agreement is fully executed over the next year, it will revolutionize our state’s educational landscape.Wesley College is proud to join Delaware State University, and we are excited about the expanded educational opportunities our two campuses will provide.”

A release stated that DSU has long seen a strategic need to have a greater downtown presence in Dover. Incorporating the Wesley campus would allow for expanded academic offerings, enhance facilities capacity for both campuses, and support the university in responsible growth and expansion.

Wesley shares a similar student demographic profile and mission to provide greater educational access to students from traditionally underserved communities. Wesley is comprised of 63 percent students of color, with an average entering Grade Point Average of 3.05 and average SAT scores of 905, compared to Delaware State University’s 91% minority students, average GPA of 3.15, and average SATs of 920.

This agreement represents the outcome of discussions begun by the leadership of both institutions in March. The agreement outlines that before the acquisition is completed, multiple contingencies must be worked out. The highlights include the following:

  • Delaware State University will need to secure sufficient private and/or government funding resources outside its normal operating revenue to manage the acquisition. No existing revenue in the University’s current budget can be used to support the transaction.
  • Acquisition of Wesley College requires approval from appropriate governing and accrediting bodies (i.e. the U.S. Department of Education, Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Wesley’s FY 2021 budget, operating expenses, negotiated contracts with vendors, and other obligations will be coordinated with Delaware State University.
  • A successful organizational transition plan that serves the needs of all students and ensures the university’s long-term financial stability and growth must be developed.

“It was 27 years ago this month, after years of transformation that so many worked hard to achieve, that Delaware State College became Delaware State University,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “Now, Delaware State University is achieving another milestone by bringing on a well-established Dover institution, Wesley College. I am thrilled that both schools are coming together for the greater good of our students, our Dover community, and our State. Nearly three decades ago as Governor, I supported Delaware State University’s historic milestone, and I will continue my work to support these two great institutions as they come together today.”

Both institutions anticipate that the 2020-2021 Academic Year will help them locate and implement fiscal and operational efficiencies, some of which may include shared residence halls, common vendor contract consolidations, elimination of redundant support and administrative functions.

Presidents Allen and Clark also emphasized in a statement that it is critical for their institutions to work closely together to navigate the changes and challenges inherent in continuing to operate with safety and academic integrity during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically over the course of the Fall 2020 semester.

DSU is a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) while Wesley was founded as a Methodist institution.

Wesley was known around the region for having a strong nursing program.

DSU has grown in stature in recent years and is one of a few HBCUs to show enrollment growth.

The University of Delaware also looked at affiliation with Wesley but decided not to move forward.

The merger talks were first reported by the Delaware Business Times.

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