Delaware State University returning to Wilmington with Capital One building donation


Delaware State University will return Wilmington thanks to the donation of a building from banking giant Capital One.

DSU had moved its satellite classrooms out of a city to Kirkwood Highway, west of Wilmington, about a decade ago. The Kirkwood Center will remain in operation for laboratory work and will undergo renovation.

The Historically Black University now operates two campuses in Dover, with the recently completed acquisition of Wesley College and its downtown campus


The donation agreement will e paired with enhancements to Capital One’s recruiting partnership with the DSU.

Capital One deepens relationship

“This dramatically expanded footprint inside Wilmington and Capital One’s commitment to long-term engagement with the area’s young people is exactly what the University needs to bring our particular strengths to bear on the issues facing the city,” said university President Tony Allen. “Together, we will be able to reach the city’s youth more directly to create an innovative pipeline to college and career; offer both graduate courses and workforce development training…”

“At Capital One, we know that HBCUs are engines of economic mobility,” said Joe Westcott, the bank’s Delaware Market President, “and we’re proud to be investing in Delaware State University’s proven ability to champion educational equity, academic excellence, and the creation of innovative career pathways for it students. This partnership invests in the talent and promise of those students and represents an important milestone in reaffirming Capital One’s longstanding commitment to Wilmington and the entire State of Delaware.”

The anchor for the new partnership is the bank’s donation of its One South Orange building to the University.  The property, built in 1885, was renovated in 2001.

The Capital One property was tied in with its purchase of online banker INGDirect.

Building vacated in 2018

The space was occupied by a portion of Delaware’s Capital One business until late 2018, before the company consolidated its office space in downtown Wilmington. 

The site contains 35,000 square feet with six floors, an open floor plan, and custom meeting space.

The new space will initially be the headquarters for the university’s School for Graduate, Adult, and Extended Studies, a new partnership with the Teen Warehouse and its workforce development center, and an incubation hub for micro and small businesses – with a  focus on minority and women-owned companies.

Capital One and Delaware State will also be deepening their recruiting relationship to expand opportunities for students to pursue careers within the company, emphasizing roles in the fields of business analysis, tech development, and product development.

The bank will assign a dedicated recruiter to work with the university to increase Capital One hiring of its graduates. It will also seek to prime the early talent pipeline by extending access to Capital One up-skill programs for freshman and sophomores, including  First Gen Focus (first-generation college students) and the HBCU Tech Mini-Mester, a two-week coding skills program to prepare students for STEM-focused internships

Westcott emphasized that the partnership marked an important milestone in Capital One’s HBCU recruitment and advocacy strategy and larger commitment to advancing racial equity through the Capital One Impact Initiative, a $200 million, five-year commitment launched in 2020 to support growth in underserved communities and advance socio-economic mobility.

Proposed legislation would bolster DSU and other HBCUs

Both Capital One and Delaware State University are advocates for the passage of the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act, bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Delaware U.S. Sen. Chris Coons. The act would add federal investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“Today’s announcement from Capital One and Delaware State University represents another exciting and innovative development for DSU under the leadership of Dr. Tony Allen. This donation is also a remarkable reflection of the generosity and commitment of Capital One to both Delaware’s only HBCU and our state’s largest city,” said U.S. Rep. Lisa  Blunt Rochester. “The return of DSU to the City of Wilmington will be a massive boost for economic development, help Delaware State with alumni relations within the city, and allow DSU to engage with students earlier, giving them access to an incredible talent pipeline from which to recruit. This donation will also allow Delaware State’s adult education efforts to reach the city of Wilmington, an issue I’m passionate about as the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Future of Work Caucus. This partnership, made possible by the generosity of Capital One and the creativity of Delaware State, will create a better and brighter future for the Hornets, for the City of Wilmington, and our entire state.”

Kirkwood Highway site remains

The university will not vacate  its Kirkwood Highway Facility. Last November, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer awarded $5.5 million from the Federal CARES Act to help the University build its own Molecular Diagnostic Lab at the Kirkwood site, a former United States Army Reserve site awarded to the university in 2013.  Working with Testing for America and the county, in six months, the university has lowered the cost for Covid-19 testing from $50 per test to just under $8. It will now expand the facility to test and analyze other infectious diseases.

Graduate School Dean Patrice Gilliam-Johnson noted that the University will also be using the opportunity to focus on completing necessary renovations to its Kirkwood Highway facility. ”Once we have completed the transition period,” she said, “the university will have a presence in northern Delaware that exceeds 100,000 square feet and is capable of having a major impact on the greater metropolitan area.”

“Welcome Home DSU and thank you, Capital One,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki. “Wilmington will soon have an even better chance of helping its residents achieve prosperity because a core university partner will be part of the effort. And Capital One has again stepped up in a big way to help the people of Wilmington and this region.”