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Longwood Foundation awards $1M for DSU’s Wesley acquisition

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DOVER – The Longwood Foundation has awarded $1 million to Delaware State University to support the university’s acquisition of Wesley College. The award will support ongoing transition costs, including personnel and a comprehensive plan for aligning the two institutions’ academic programs. 

Calling it a defining moment for its future, the university announced plans last summer to acquire Wesley College and is currently moving toward completing the transaction by July 2021.  The deal has several contingencies attached to it, including approval from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the regional accrediting body for both institutions.

“In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and all its inherent uncertainties, as well as the continued unrest in our country over systemic racism, there is a case to be made that a University like ours should focus its attention on navigating a rapidly changing American landscape,” said DSU President Tony Allen in a statement. “That is precisely what we are doing. The Wesley acquisition is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and matches our highest aspirations.”

Allen noted that one of the other core contingencies for a successful acquisition is the ability to secure sufficient funding resources outside university normal operating revenue to manage the transaction.

“This Longwood Foundation gift will be expressly used for that purpose, and validates the impact the combined entity will have on the educational, cultural and economic impact to the city of Dover, Kent County and the State of Delaware,” he said.

The Longwood Foundation has been a longtime supporter of Delaware State University.  Recently, the Foundation provided two separate $1 million grants between 2011 and 2015. Those grants supported the university’s Project Aspire – a scholarship initiative that helped students stay enrolled and complete their degree requirements. The program resulted in a 12% increase in the university’s retention rate and a 6% increase in its graduation rate.

“The Longwood Foundation’s grant to Delaware State University to help acquire Wesley College is a wonderful investment that will benefit the students, but also the greater Dover community for many years to come,” U.S. Sen. Tom Carper said in a statement. “Longwood recognizes Wesley’s impact in our region with its location in the heart of historic Dover and its attractive health sciences curriculum and has generously stepped up to the plate to help make this acquisition a reality. This is what we mean by the Delaware Way – public and private sectors working together to make Delaware a better place to live, work and learn!”

Longwood’s support has been critical in the university’s rise in the Wall Street Journal and the U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of historically Black colleges and universities. In the most recent USNWR report, Delaware State University was ranked as the nation’s No. 3 public HBCU. 

The foundation’s award caps a historic week of $23 million in monetary awards to Delaware State University – which also includes a $1 million Health Heroes Relief Fund award from TikTok, $1 million from JPMorgan Chase and its Advancing Black Pathways initiative, and a school-record single donation of $20 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

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