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DSU, UD claim records in annual college rankings

Katie Tabeling

Delaware State University was named second of public HBCUs, and eighth of all HBCUs in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 Best Colleges list. | PHOTO COURTSEY OF DSU

Both Delaware State University and University of Delaware universities claimed top rankings in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 Best Colleges list, marking the two Delaware institutions that cracked the top 100 list in regional and national rankings.

DSU rose to second place of public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), reaching the highest rank it has ever received. It was only bested out by Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU).

Overall, DSU was named eighth of all HBCUs, public and private, out of 77 that were eligible to be ranked in the annual list. Last year it was named 10th of all HBCUs, and third of public HBCUs.

“When I think about the broad shoulders that we stand on to get to this point, it’s spanning generations,” DSU President Tony Allen told the Delaware Business Times. “What’s impactful to me is that I see the current teammates at this university that believe in our journey to be the most diverse, contemporary HBCU in the country. Look at the company we keep: FAMU, Howard, and Spelman. If we are in close connection with them, I feel like we are in the right pack and moving in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, UD’s chemical engineering program was ranked second in the nation, marking the highest ranking Delaware’s largest university has ever received. UD tied with Georgia Institute of Technology for the spot and only Massachusetts of Technology placed higher.

“These rankings by U.S. News are further evidence of the University of Delaware’s academic rigor and its progressive investments in providing top-level educational opportunities,” UD President Dennis Assanis said in a prepared statement. “Our distinguished faculty and our dedicated staff are deeply committed to the success of our students, which makes us the institution of choice for many young people. Their achievements as students on our campus and later as alumni in their careers is a true measure of what a University of Delaware education can mean.”

UD placed 38th in public universities nationwide, and moved up four slots to 89th position in the nation’s best overall universities, out of 443 in total. DSU also holds 85th place in regional universities in the north.

The annual U.S. News & World Report college ranking report considers multiple factors for its rankings, based on a methodology cultivated from years of research. The report uses surveys and third-party sources to weigh academic reputation as well as graduation and retention rates. But other factors such as faculty resources, financial aid, alumni giving, graduate debt and social mobility are also considered.

DSU has significantly risen through the ranks, as it was 13th place in 2017 for HBCUs overall. Today, DSU officials credit the 40% expansion over the last decade, fueled by the acquisition of the Wesley College; as well as the university’s increase in online and graduate profiles.

“Innovation was a big mark for us in the application, because when you think about the Wesley acquisition and our digital first initiative that we started before COVID-19, that is what put us at a great foundation,” Allen said. “But at the end of the day, you have to be obsessed with our students, regardless of rankings. If we remain obsessed with our students – and changing their lives – the rest will take care of themselves.”

DSU officials also point to innovative moves such as its digital initiative, where all freshmen were given an iPad Pro, starting in 2018, through a partnership with Apple. Allen also noted that the university received high marks for its focus on welcoming students from low-resource communities in its classrooms through expanding the Inspire Scholarship, a four-year tuition award for Delaware students.

Both institutions can also boast of the largest first-year class to arrive on campus for the Fall 2022 semester. DSU welcomed 1,700 incoming freshmen and officials state that it is trending to its largest enrollment in history. In comparison, UD is on track to see between 4,500 and 4,650 freshmen enrolled.

Meanwhile, UD can boast that its average six-year graduation rate and its average first-year student retention rate both showed improvement over last year. About 75 faculty positions have been added at UD since 2016, and that number is expected to grow to align with enrollment needs.

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