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Colleges and Universities Education Kent County News

DSU Downtown triples students, continues renovations

Katie Tabeling

Delaware State University has grown its enrollment – and presence – in downtown Dover – through its Downtown Campus. Its main campus offers a daily shuttle service between the two campuses, with service running every 15 minutes or so.| DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

DOVER — Delaware State University has made steady and significant strides in transforming its downtown campus, including tripling the students on the grounds.

DSU Downtown, the former Wesley Campus in the heart of the capital of the First State, has between 450 and 500 students on its campus and had five residence halls open when the academic year began. Last semester, DSU officials reported 150 students were on the downtown Dover Campus and had two residence halls open.

“This year, our president tasked us with not only expanding the footprint of Delaware State University, but to move from a more soft opening to an opening of full capacity,” DSU Downtown Associate Vice President Terrell Holmes said. 

Holmes gave Dover city officials an update during its Economic Development Committee meeting on Sept. 14. During his presentation, he gave an overview of the renovations and changes the state’s sole historically Black university has taken since it acquired Wesley College.

DSU has since moved its entire college of health and behavioral sciences to its downtown campus, including psychology, social work, nursing majors. Some graduate programs in social work and nursing programs have been moved.

In the last year, much of the focus has been on renovating facilities, such as updating technology. New classrooms are available in the college center, Slaybaugh Hall and Cannon Hall. The library and the dining hall are also open for daily services. 

“We serve about 1,600 students, whether it’s online or on campus, so making sure that our classrooms have enough space and those classrooms are big enough for our students and their needs,” Holmes said.

DSU also renovated bathrooms and other buildings to ensure it met ADA requirements  — and two residence halls had some renovations finished. Staircases are being rebuilt in Dunlaney, Slaybaugh, Gooding and Williams Halls.

Holmes said in the next month he anticipates opening a full-service bookstore, and a game room will be renovated as well and planned for a reopening soon. A call center has recently been opened.

With rising inflation and supply chain struggles, Holmes acknowledged that the renovations can be “pretty expensive,” but noted the DSU sees this campus as an investment in its future. DSU President Tony Allen has committed $15 million over the course of three years to fully integrate its downtown campus.

“We’ve been doing this for more than 130 years, and we have the opportunity to expand our footprint but also in the community at large,” he said. “We see this as an opportunity to better establish ourselves in Dover and the state as a whole.”

In terms of integrating with the Dover community, DSU has continued to offer Curative COVID-19 testing to the city as a whole at the downtown campus. DSU officials have also been meeting with city and state politicians as well as religious leaders. The university also changed its homecoming parade to run through downtown Dover as well.

DSU also operates a shuttle bus between its main campus on U.S. Route 13 and downtown Dover, making it easier for students to travel the 2 miles between them. The shuttle starts as early as 7 a.m. and runs through the evening.

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