People to Watch: Dr. Tony Allen
President, Delaware State University
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced higher education institutions to quickly pivot to online learning, downsize classes and residential halls and face steep revenue declines. But Allen and his administration met the challenge head on, thanks to a forward-thinking deal to get every freshman student a Macbook or iPad and being the first Delaware college to roll out a comprehensive plan to test returning students for COVID-19. After 35,000 tests administered this year, the campus had a less than 1% positivity rate.
Even amid the adversity, however, DSU announced it would acquire neighboring, cash-strapped Wesley College. By the end of the transition year, DSU could accelerate its enrollment and establish a College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. The university also announced a partnership with New Castle County to create a COVID-19 testing lab at its Kirkwood Highway campus.
As president of Delaware’s historically Black university, Allen became a prominent voice in discussions on racial equity during and after the summer’s civil unrest. He urged the corporate community to hire employees of color and engage with minority communities in new ways.
By the end of 2020, President-elect Joe Biden named Allen the CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, bringing him further in the spotlight during an unprecedented presidential inauguration. As a longtime friend and a former speechwriter to Biden, Allen’s next chapter may play out on a national scale while leading a historic college in exciting times.