Delaware State University
Former names
  • Delaware College for Colored Students (1891–1893)
  • State College for Colored Students (1893–1947)
  • Delaware State College (1947–1993)
  • Wilmington Conference Academy (1873-1918)
  • Wesley Collegiate Institute (1918–1941)
  • Wesley Junior College (1941–1958)
  • Wesley College (1958–2021)
Motto"Enter to Learn, Go Forth and Serve"
TypePrivately governed, state-assisted historically black land-grant research university
EstablishedMay 15, 1891; 132 years ago (1891-05-15)
Academic affiliation
Endowment$43 million (2021)[1]
PresidentTony Allen
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States
CampusSmall city[3], 706 acres (2.86 km2)
Other campuses
NewspaperThe Hornet
ColorsBlue and red[4]
Sporting affiliations
MascotToo Fly

Delaware State University (DSU or Del State) is a privately governed, state-assisted historically black land-grant research university in Dover, Delaware. DSU also has two satellite campuses: one in Wilmington and one in Georgetown. The university encompasses four colleges and a diverse population of undergraduate and advanced-degree students. Delaware State University is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".[5]


19th century

The Delaware College for Colored Students was established on May 15, 1891, by the Delaware General Assembly.[6] The name was changed to the State College for Colored Students by state legislative action in 1893 to eliminate confusion with Delaware College, which was attended by whites in Newark, Delaware.[7] It first awarded degrees in 1898.

20th century

In 1945, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education awarded the college provisional accreditation. Three years later, the institution became Delaware State College by legislative action. Although its accreditation was revoked in 1949, it was regained in 1957.

On July 1, 1993, the institution changed its name yet again, this time to Delaware State University.[8] Delaware State University is one of the first historically black colleges and universities to have a no-smoking policy.

21st century

In 2015, the university began phasing out smoking on campus by restricting it to four designated areas and providing educational resources on smoking cessation tools and programs. In August 2015 it implemented a completely tobacco-free policy.

In 2017, the university received the ACAS Health Leadership Award in recognition of its efforts. The award was jointly presented by the Public Health Service Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health, the Truth Initiative, Arizonans Concerned About Smoking and the Arizona NAACP.[9]

In December 2020, MacKenzie Scott donated $20 million to Delaware State University. Her donation is the largest single gift in the university's history.[10]

On July 1, 2021, Delaware State University officially finalized its acquisition of Wesley College, a 157-year-old private institution founded by the Methodist Church in 1873.[11] This acquisition makes Delaware State the first historically Black university to acquire an institution that is not a historically Black college or university.[12]

The university has renamed the former Wesley campus "DSU Downtown", reflecting its close proximity to downtown Dover, Delaware, and has relocated most of its College of Health and Behavioral Science (Public and Allied Health, Psychology, and Social Work programs on that additional 41-acre site. That academic division has been renamed the Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences as a way to preserve the history of the former Wesley College.[13]


Delaware State University's Wellness and Recreation Center

The 400-acre (1.6 km2) main campus in Dover, the capital of Delaware, is approximately a two-hour drive from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., and three hours from New York City. There university's has two satellite campuses located in Wilmington and Georgetown.

The main campus in Dover contains thirty buildings, including:

On the main campus there are five main campus traditional residential halls and three apartment-style residence halls for upperclassmen on campus. Off-campus there is an apartment complex and an residential hall. In addition, the university has activated two residential halls at DSU Downtown (the former Wesley College campus). The residential facilities include:

Two dining halls serve the more than 1,500 on-campus students.

As a part of the Internet2 initiative, the university maintains several research computer laboratories including a high-performance computational cluster in its DESAC center. Almost every building has a computer lab and each student has a dedicated data port for internet access, their own phone, a campus email address, and cable television access in all residence hall rooms. Most campus buildings also offer wireless connectivity.

DSU is one of 148 schools in the country to receive Tree Campus USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation.[15] The university owns two farms near Kenton and Smyrna, and has an Airway Science Program based at Delaware Air Park in Cheswold.[16]


Name Term Notes
Wesley P. Webb 1891–1895
William C. Jason 1895–1923
Richard S. Grossley 1923–1942
Howard D. Gregg 1942–1949
Maurice E. Thomasson 1949-1950,
(Acting president,
Oscar J. Chapman 1950–1951
Jerome H. Holland 1953–1960
Luna I. Mishoe 1960–1987
William B. DeLauder 1987–2003
Allen Sessoms 2003–2008
Claibourne D. Smith 2008-2010 (Acting president)
Harry L. Williams 2010–2017
Wilma Mishoe January 1, 2018–June 30, 2018
July 1, 2018–Dec. 2019
(Acting president)
(Permanent president)
Tony Allen Feb. 2020–present

Tony Allen became the 12th president of Delaware State University on January 1, 2020, after serving the previous two and a half years as the university's provost and executive vice president. Three months into his presidency, Allen ended in-person classes and residential operations on campus following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the faculty began offering curriculum online. The university raised $1.5 million for a Student Emergency Relief Fund to address student needs brought on by COVID-19 crisis. Although the COVID-19 crisis continued throughout the year, Allen and the university reopened its residential halls for the fall semester 2020, allowing more than 1,700 students to resume their residency on campus while almost all classes continued to be held virtually.[17][18][19]

The business and affairs of the university are governed by the board of trustees. The board of trustees has all the powers accorded it by Title 14, Chapter 65 of the Delaware Code.[20] The board consists of 15 members whose appointment or election is provided for in the Delaware Code and the governor of the state and the president of the university who are ex officio members with voting rights.[21]


Then U.S. vice president Joe Biden delivering the commencement speech in May 2016

The university consists of four colleges:[22]

DSU offers 46 undergraduate degrees, 21 graduate degrees, and six doctoral degrees (interdisciplinary applied mathematics and mathematical physics, applied chemistry, neuroscience and optics, integrative agriculture, food & environment, and educational leadership).[23] The university also offers several cooperative and dual degree programs.[24] Students receive instruction in classes with a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio. About 80 percent of first-year undergraduates receive need-based financial aid.[25] It has a traditional Honors Program and a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Honors Program to increase the number of students in science interested in pursuing biomedical research and obtaining doctor of philosophy degrees in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, and biopsychology.

In addition to satisfying the requirements for the major or majors and any minor, all undergraduates are required to complete the General Education Program, which includes: seven core courses, twelve foundation courses (across the curriculum), and the Senior Capstone Experience.

Accreditations include the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the Accreditation Council for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA), the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetic Education (CCDE).[26][27] The university's College of Business is accredited nationally and internationally by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).[28]

Aviation program

DSU's Aviation Program provides students with education and experience in preparation for careers in the aviation industry. Curricula in the program lead to a B.Sc. degree with concentrations in Aviation Management or Professional Pilot. Professional Pilot graduates will complete their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for Private Pilot, Instrument, Commercial, Multi-Engine and Certified Flight Instructor ratings while earning their bachelor's degree.[29]

Delaware State operates the only full-service, university-based flight school in the mid-Atlantic area. The Aviation program is approved by the State of Delaware Education Department for Veterans Flight Training.[30][31]


The institution has greatly increased its research endeavors over the past several years, as it has developed the research infrastructure needed to attract federal grants for projects in the following DSU Research Centers and in the sciences and mathematics:


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[33]263
Washington Monthly[34]342

DSU is ranked 8th among the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the U.S. News & World Report (2023).[35]

In 2018, the College of Business at DSU was named to the Princeton Review's Best Business Schools for the tenth consecutive year (2009-2018).[36]

Global connections

The university has over thirty formal international partnerships with institutions in countries including China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland and the UK which facilitate research and conference collaborations as well as student exchanges.[37]

Student activities


Main article: Delaware State Hornets

See also: Delaware State Hornets men's basketball and Delaware State Hornets football

Delaware State University's Student Center

DSU athletic programs participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA)'s Division I (FCS for football). The Hornets compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference as full members since the conference was founded in 1970.

The university's Department of Intramural Sports provides a wide variety of quality recreational programs for students, faculty and staff.

Student organizations

Delaware State has over 60 student organizations on campus including a Student Government Association (SGA), gospel choir, and The Approaching Storm Marching Band.[38][39]

Notable alumni

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Reggie Barnes 1988 Canadian Football League running back, various teams, 1990–1996
Clyde Bishop 1964 U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, 2006–2009
Clifford Brown trumpet virtuoso, composer, an influential and highly rated American jazz musician
Robin Christiansen mayor of Dover since 2014, city councilman from 1983 to 2001, and council president and vice mayor from 1990 to 2001 [40]
Emanual Davis 1991 former NBA player for the Atlanta Hawks and Seattle SuperSonics
Wayne Gilchrest 1973 U.S. Representative for Maryland's 1st congressional district, 1990–2009
Jamaal Jackson 2003 National Football League offensive lineman, Philadelphia Eagles, 2003-2010
Shaheer McBride 2008 National Football League wide receiver
Darnerien McCants 2001 National Football League wide receiver
Sam Shepherd 1975 represented Venezuela in basketball at the 1992 Summer Olympics [41][42]
John Taylor 1986 National Football League wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers, 1987–1995
Walter Tullis National Football League wide receiver, Green Bay Packers
David G. Turner 1986 executive, Bank of America, recognized by Fortune magazine in 2002 as one of the "50 most powerful black executives in America"
Ralph Wesley 2003 public address announcer for the Washington Wizards [43]
Kailyn Lowry 2017 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom 2
SZA 2012 Grammy Award-winning R&B singer


  1. ^ Delaware State University: Portfolio Review, Goldman Sachs Institutional Client Solutions, December 21, 2021, University Advancement archives
  2. ^ "Delaware State University enrollment continues to soar". Daily State News. 2023. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  3. ^ "IPEDS-Delaware State University".
  4. ^ "Delaware State University Colors".
  5. ^ "Carnegie Classifications Institution Lookup". Center for Postsecondary Education. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  6. ^ "Chapter 119". Archived from the original on March 15, 2016.
  7. ^ "Chapter 635". Archived from the original on November 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Delaware State University History". Delaware State University. Archived from the original on March 3, 2021. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  9. ^ "DSU one of few smoke-free HBCUs". delawareonline. Retrieved July 10, 2017.
  10. ^ "Del State receives historic $20MM donation from MacKenzie Scott". Delaware State University. December 15, 2020. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  11. ^ Delaware State News, July 2, 2021, edition, pages 1 and 8.
  12. ^ "Delaware State University will acquire Wesley College, a first for HBCUs". Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  13. ^ "Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences". Delaware State University.
  14. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  15. ^ "Tree Campus USA Schools". Arbor Day Foundation. 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  16. ^ "History". Delaware State University. 2009. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  17. ^ "COVID-19, updates-7/7 Reopening plan". Delaware State University.
  18. ^ "Student Emergency Relief Fund\publisher=Delaware State University". April 7, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Presidents of Delaware State University and the Highlights of their Tenures". Delaware State University. 2009. Archived from the original on June 7, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  20. ^ "Chapter 65. Organization, Administration and Functions – Delaware State University". – the Online Delaware Code website. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  21. ^ "Board of Trustees". Delaware State University. 2009. Archived from the original on February 2, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  22. ^ "Provost/Academic Affairs". Delaware State University. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  23. ^ "About DSU". Delaware State University. 2009. Archived from the original on January 21, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  24. ^ "DTCC Dual Admission Program". Delaware State University. 2009. Archived from the original on February 2, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  25. ^,financial%20aid%20in%20fall%202021.
  26. ^ "NCATE Institution Report Overview". Delaware State University. 2009. Archived from the original on October 8, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  27. ^ "Graduate Catalog - Accreditations and Institutional Memberships" (PDF). Delaware State University. 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2012. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  28. ^ "Schools Accredited in Business". The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. 2011. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  29. ^ "The Aviation Program". Delaware State University. 2009. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  30. ^ "The Professional Pilot Program". Delaware State University. 2009. Archived from the original on February 2, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  31. ^ "Delaware Flight Schools – Delaware State University". Best Aviation. 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  32. ^ "DSU Receives $5 million NASA research grant". Delaware State University. September 30, 2009. Archived from the original on September 17, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
  33. ^ "2023-2024 Best National Universities". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  34. ^ "2023 National University Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  35. ^ "Delaware State University Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 16, 2022.
  36. ^ "Delaware State University - College of Business". The Princeton Review and Random House. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  37. ^ "Faculty Research Abroad". Delaware State University. 2009. Archived from the original on July 28, 2012. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  38. ^ "Student Organizations". November 16, 2016.
  39. ^ "Musical Groups". November 17, 2016.
  40. ^ "Mayor". City of Dover, Delaware. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  41. ^ Pucin, Diane (July 3, 1992). "Venezuelans Bring Some Of Their Own Magic To The Fray". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  42. ^ "Sam Shepherd bio, stats, and results". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. Retrieved May 24, 2012.
  43. ^ "Delaware State Alum Ralph Wesley Named Washington Wizards' P.A. Announcer". HBCU Digest. September 17, 2010. Archived from the original on September 19, 2010.

Further reading

39°11′10″N 75°32′33″W / 39.1861°N 75.5426°W / 39.1861; -75.5426