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DSU makes last-minute change to its Commencement speaker

Brad Glazier
Delaware Public Media

Delaware State University makes a last-minute change to its 2023 Commencement speaker.

County music star and Milton native Jimmie Allen was scheduled to offer the keynote speech at Friday’s Commencement ceremony at Alumni Stadium in Dover, but university officials say he told the school Thursday he would not be able to attend.

Delaware Congresswomen Lisa Blunt Rochester will speak to DSU’s Class of 2023 in Allen’s place.

"The University respects Mr. Allen’s decision and is grateful that Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester has agreed to address the graduates," said a DSU statement announcing the change.

The change was announced Thursday afternoon hours after a federal civil lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, in Nashville, accusing Allen of sexual abuse and assault.

Allen, in statement, admitted to a sexual relationship with the plaintiff – a former member of his management team – but denied any wrongdoing and vowed to defend himself.

Allen was a 2022 nominee in the Grammy’s Best New Artist category after winning New Artist of the Year Award at the 2021Country Music Awards.

Blunt Rochester is in her fourth term in the U.S. House. She became the first woman and first African American elected to Congress from First State in 2016. She was given an honorary degree by DSU in 2017.

DSU’s Commencement begins at 8 am Friday.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for nearly three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.