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Wesley College
Wesley de.jpg
Wesley College, now part of Delaware State College as DSU Downtown
Former names
  • Wilmington Conference Academy
  • Wesley Collegiate Institute
MottoGreat Things Await
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Active1873; 150 years ago (1873) –
2021; 2 years ago (2021)
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church
Academic affiliation
Space Grant
Location, ,
United States
CampusSmall city, 50 acres
ColorsBlue and white
Sporting affiliations

Wesley College was a private liberal arts college in Dover, Delaware. It was acquired by Delaware State University in 2021 and is now the DSU Downtown campus.[1][2][3]


The institution was founded in 1873[4] as Wilmington Conference Academy, a prep school.[5] During this period Annie Jump Cannon, a prominent astronomer who pioneered stellar classification, graduated valedictorian from Wilmington Conference Academy in 1880.[6][7] It became a two-year college in 1918 and renamed the Wesley Collegiate Institute.[5] It was renamed again in 1941 as Wesley Junior College, and again in 1958 as Wesley College.[5] The institution conferred its first four-year degrees in 1978.[8]

In its last decades, the college experienced significant financial challenges and relied on state funding and grants.[4][1] At one point in 2019, had the state not given Wesley $3 million, students would have lost access to federal financial aid and salaries would have been at risk. In early 2021, members of the college faculty voted "no confidence" against Wesley's last president, Robert E. Clark II, but the college's board of trustees subsequently dismissed the resolution and supported him.[9][10]

On June 30, 2021, Delaware State University (DSU) began the formal process of purchasing Wesley College.[11] This made DSU "the first historically Black college or university to acquire another college."[1] The acquisition was finalized one year later, on July 1, 2021.[12] Approximately 60 percent of the Wesley community were offered employment by Delaware State University. DSU took on Wesley College's debts and did not directly pay to purchase the university. All Wesley students with non-adverse records were permitted to become DSU students.[13] After the acquisition, the campus was known as DSU Downtown, while the Wesley name remained attached to the Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences housed at the campus.[14][15]


Prior to ceasing operations, many of its students pursued a liberal arts program of study. At its close, Wesley College had 917 students.


See also: Wesley Wolverines football

The institution competed in National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III athletics in the Atlantic East Conference. Its teams were known as the Wolverines.[16][17]

Notable alumni

Postcard of Wesley Junior College
Postcard of Wesley Junior College

See also: Category:Wesley College (Delaware) alumni

See also


  1. ^ a b c Alamdari, Natalia (July 9, 2020). "Delaware State University signs agreement to acquire Wesley College". The News Journal. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  2. ^ Cherry, Amy. "Delaware State University to officially acquire Wesley College". WDEL-FM. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  3. ^ Eichmann, Mark (July 9, 2020). "Delaware State Univ. to make historic acquisition of Wesley College". WHYY. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Chase, Randall (May 26, 2021). "Tenured faculty challenge Wesley College acquisition by DSU". Associated Press. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "History". Wesley College. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  6. ^ "WE Celebrate: Annie Jump Cannon". Blog. Colonial School District. March 18, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Wesley Unveils Annie Jump Cannon Historical Marker". Wesley College. Archived from the original on May 6, 2016. Retrieved April 20, 2020.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ "Kent County Markers". Delaware Public Archives. State of Delaware. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  9. ^ Wesley College Board of Trustees Meeting Open Session Minutes - March 20, 2021
  10. ^ "Wesley Faculty Vote "No Confidence" In President Clark". March 8, 2021. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  11. ^ "Millions in Tax Dollars Went to Private Wesley College; Fallout From Sale Leaves a Lot of Questions". The News Journal. March 29, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  12. ^ "DSU & Wesley". Delaware State University. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  13. ^ Redden, Elizabeth (July 2, 2021). "A Cross-Town Acquisition". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  14. ^ Tabeling, Kate (July 1, 2021). "DSU Officially Closes Wesley Acquisition". Delaware Business Times. Retrieved November 20, 2021.
  15. ^ Neiburg, Jeff (July 16, 2021). "After acquiring Wesley College, what's next for Delaware State?". The News Journal. Retrieved November 24, 2021.
  16. ^ Tresolini, Kevin (February 16, 2021). "Sale to DSU Spells End of Wesley College Sports". The News Journal. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  17. ^ Lopez, Anissa (March 19, 2021). "Discontinuation of Wesley College Athletic Program impacting student". Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  18. ^ "Senator Colin Bonini". Delaware General Assembly. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  19. ^ "GILCHREST, Wayne Thomas - Biographical Information". Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  20. ^ "Meet Charles Oberly". September 30, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  21. ^ "Robinson Standing Out For Philadelphia Soul" (Press release). Dover, Delaware: Wesley College. April 5, 2012. Retrieved August 11, 2021.