DSU completes acquisition of Wesley College

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Delaware State University and Wesley College officials marked the acquisition of the 50-acre downtown campus by DSU.

DSU will preserve the Wesley name in a health sciences campus housed on the downtown Dover camps.

“This is a historic moment,” said Delaware State University President Tony Allen, speaking at a press conference. “For us to become the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to acquire another institution of higher education in American history, and to do so during our own 130th Anniversary year, is an extraordinary achievement. Nor could we be any more pleased about adding the incredible Wesley brand legacy, so many continuing students, and dozens of dedicated employees to our own family.”

William J. Strickland, chairperson of the Board of Trustees at Wesley College, said that while saddened to see the end of Wesley College’s 147-year history, its legacy is in good hands. “I have spent the last year working closely with so many people at Delaware State University, and I can assure our community the commitment to support all former Wesley students and to maintain the core traditions of Wesley College is very real,” Strickland said. “What I would call on the Wesley family to do now is not to stand on the sidelines but embrace this change.”

Allen also introduced the leadership team for the new Downtown DSU campus:

  • Stacy Downing, chief administrative officer for DSU Downtown.
  • Terrell Holmes, associate vice President for DSU Downtown.
  • Laura Mayse, director of development and community relations for DSU Downtown.

Dr. Downing said there will be two major priorities over the next few months. “First, we want to honor and maintain the core traditions of Wesley College and have a strong, positive impact on Dover and Kent County,” she said. “The second priority will be the full occupation and use of facilities on the DSU Downtown campus, and that will involve renovating and occupying the facilities in stages. She added that the university plans to expand the Nursing Program facilities and move the university’s Early College High School to the DSU Downtown campus in fall 2022.

Another member of the DSU Downtown leadership team will be Dr. Gwen Scott-Jones, the founding Dean of the Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences that will be based on that campus. Dr. Jones said her focus is on “having the faculty moved and energized on Day One. Delaware needs many more qualified health professionals, and we need to get down to the business of training them right now.”

The Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences will include the Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Social Work, Kinesiology, Psychology, and Allied/Public Health programs and the Academy of Healing Trauma. The university has named the college after Wesley as one of the ways it will preserve the school’s history and legacy.

Delaware State University will gain 50 acres, 21 buildings, and 14 academic programs. The university is also adding to its payroll 71 former Wesley faculty and staff members.

To date, 387 former Wesley students have completed their registration to continue at Del State. With another 85 students completing their registration, 77% of the former Wesley students have chosen to continue at Delaware State University.

These new Del State students will experience a significant reduction in tuition costs. For example, the annual cost of undergraduate attendance at Wesley was $43,000, compared to roughly $24,000 at DSU – which equals an annual saving of about $20,000.

Dr. Allen said the acquisition would enable Delaware State University to serve more students, increase its physical footprint, build on its key academic programs, grow its research portfolio, and enhance its economic impact locally and throughout the state. He added it would also give the university a stronger connection to downtown Dover’s economic, social, and cultural life.

DSU’s main campus is on the north end of Dover.

The 5,000-student institution has seen increases in enrollment, unlike many HBCU institutions.

Delaware State University agreed to acquire Wesley, after the private college struggled for years with financial issues and declining enrollment.

The Delaware General Assembly provided financial aid for the college over concerns of the economic impact of the closing and leaving a large vacant area downtown.

The acquisition resulted in the loss of 62 jobs tied to Wesley based on a WARN notice filed with the Delaware Department of Labor.

DSU also scrapped Wesley’s popular athletic teams but is working on upgrading its own program, which has seen its share of struggles.

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