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Delaware State University provost, foundation head to step down

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Delaware State University is headed toward change as two seasoned administrators announced changes to their positions this week.

 

DOVER — Delaware State University is headed toward change as two seasoned administrators announced changes to their positions this week.

Dr. Saundra DeLauder, provost and chief academic officer, will step down as of June 30, while Dr. Vita Pickrum, foundation president and head of institutional advancement will retire Dec. 31. 

DSU President Dr. Tony Allen announced the news to staff and faculty on April 25 in an email, noting that he will soon detail a transition strategy for both positions. DSU officials declined to comment further to the Delaware Business Times.

Dr. Saundra DeLauder

Dr. Saundra DeLauder | PHOTO COURTESY OF DSU

DeLauder was appointed as DSU’s sixth provost in May 2020, after Allen vacated that post to become president of the historically Black university, leaving a void in DSU’s leadership. She previously served as the dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research from 2013 through 2017 and vice provost from August 2017 through 2019. 

According to DSU, the Office of the Provost oversees college deans, the various academic departments, “additional locations and related academic activities in coordination with the Office of the President.” Historical records from the school show that the provost position was created under the leadership of DeLauder’s late father-in-law, William B. DeLauder, when he was DSU’s president from 1987 to 2003.

After the North Carolinan native steps down from that role later this year, she will remain at the University as a full professor in the College of Agriculture, Science & Technology following a “one-year administrative sabbatical” during which she will continue to identify ways for the University to grow. 

“She has agreed to work on special projects for the University, including determining the best use of the testing laboratory at the Kirkwood campus and how to meet the growing program needs for research expansion, contracting, and other revenue generation.  I have also asked her to help lead our efforts with Thurgood Marshall College Fund to build a new online platform, as a part of the HBCU Transformation Project,” Allen said in the statement. 

DeLauder had 26 years of higher educational experience prior to her roles at DSU, including becoming North Carolina Central University’s first female full professor and its first-tenured female chemistry professor.

DSU has traditionally appointed a search committee for its next provost, including in 2020 and 2017, when DeLauder and Allen were selected respectively. No such committee has been announced for the upcoming search as of press time.

Dr. Vita Pickrum

Dr. Vita Pickrum | PHOTO COURTESY OF DSU

Pickrum has served with DSU for 16 years, overseeing a time of strong philanthropy and institutional growth, according to Allen. She has led the university through three capital campaigns and increased DUS’s investment and portfolios to a combined $40 million. She will oversee one more capital campaign before she retires on Dec. 31. 

“Because of her leadership at the university, she has been nationally recognized as one of the premiere philanthropy professionals in the country and perhaps the best at a Historically Black College and University,” Allen said in the prepared statement.

Her career with DSU included an honor as the recipient of the 2021 Commonfund College and University Foundation Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). DSU’s 2021 announcement of her award cited an 800% increase in private funds for the University since she began working at the HBU in 2008.

Among other accomplishments, Allen cited Pickrum’s work with the HBCU Philanthropy Symposium, which now ranks among the largest convening of Black university officials in America. Founded in 2010, the symposium regularly brings more than 50% of the HBCU community together with some of the nation’s most significant corporate and philanthropic partners. She also developed the University’s Scholarship Ball, which raised more than $3 million in 2023.

Pickrum was elected vice-chair of the CASE Committee on College and University Foundations in 2020, continuing her foundation and philanthropy work on a national level. According to CASE, she served on the CASE Board of Trustees in 2018, the Commission for Philanthropy and the National Committee for Institutionally Related Foundations. Pickrum also received the Professional of the Year Award by CASE District II in recent years. 

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