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DSU President gives updates on strategic plan in State of the University address

Brad Glazier
Delaware Public Media
DSU's downtown Dover campus, formerly the campus of Wesley College.

Delaware State University President Tony Allen says DSU is bucking the national trend of declining college enrollment.

During his State of the University address, Allen noted Delaware State school enrolled a record number of students in the past year. He hopes enrollment can grow by about a third by 2026 and DSU can double the size of its student body by the end of the decade.

Allen also believes DSU can continue improving its freshman retention and 6-year graduation rates. They currently sit at about 75 and 50 percent, respectively, and have steadily improved in recent years.

But Allen says that requires expanding the school’s residential and academic facilities.

DSU recently received a US Department of Agriculture matching grant to build the school’s first new academic building in ten years.

And the school is making more use of the former Wesley College campus in downtown Dover it acquired last year.

“Today we have twice as many students at the DSU downtown campus as they did in the fall of 2020," he said. "We’ve saved 60% of the Wesley jobs. We’ve relocated significant faculty and staff to the downtown campus and are doing more as we think through our ongoing transition in the summer.”

Allen notes adding Wesley College’s health sciences program helped triple the number of nursing students in DSU’s graduating class.

The Downtown Dover Partnership says it is working closely with DSU on plans to expand the student presence downtown to help revive a struggling business district.

"It so happens that we're working on a strategic plan for downtown at the same time that the university is working on its strategic plan," said Diane Laird, the partnership's director. "Our goals are aligned, but there's a lot of work to be done to bring downtown up to speed." Among the challenges, she said, are a shortage of downtown housing and the costs of retrofitting vacant retail spaces to open restaurants and other student-oriented businesses.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.