DSU says it’s the first HBCU in the country to acquire another institution of higher education.
The deal announced last year became official Thursday, funded with help from millions in donations from private organizations, as well as infusions from the federal government.
The deal will cost DSU about $15 million over the next three years.
DSU President Dr. Tony Allen says enrollment at Del State is up 40 percent over the past ten years and the acquisition will fulfill space needs as it works to become a 10,000 student university.
“So we really were busting at the seams,"said Allen. "So when you think about residence halls and the like, research space, educational facilities, we think they actually accommodate our needs to grow into who we are going to become.”
The deal brings DSU 21 buildings on Wesley’s 50-acre downtown Dover campus. They will become the DSU Downtown campus starting this fall and undergo renovations over the next few years.
Allen says the school’s new downtown presence comes with a responsibility to build “a new renaissance” there.
“So it’s not only about building educational access across Kent County and the state of Delaware, but also being a part of—a real big part of—the economic, cultural and civic life in downtown Dover,” he said.
DSU also acquires 14 new academic programs in the deal. This includes the Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences which will keep its name to honor the 147-year old institution. This will include programs like nursing, occupational therapy and social work.
About 60 percent of Wesley’s faculty were offered jobs at DSU and most, 71, accepted. About 77 percent of Wesley’s student body will continue their education at DSU - all with a lower tuition rate.
Wesley’s Division Three sports program will not continue, but Allen says some athletes and coaches have been absorbed onto DSU’s D-1 rosters.
Wesley was a private college, but was kept afloat in recent years with millions in public funds.
State Sen. Trey Paradee (D-Dover) said Tuesday Wesley was in a difficult financial position as he and others worked to keep the institution from going under.
"This is going to go down as probably the greatest real estate transaction for the state of Delaware ever," said Paradee. "I mean what an incredible value for Delaware State University."
Wesley had reportedly been placed on a federal monitoring list due to its financial troubles, and had experienced declining undergraduate enrollment. It’s enrollment for the fall of 2019 was 1,035 - down from 1600 in fall 2013.