Delaware State University dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 in the U.S. News and World Report 2024 rankings of HBCUs, while continuing to remain in the top 5 of those public schools for the ninth year in a row.
Delaware’s Historically Black College and University had risen into the No. 2 spot last year.
It’s also listed this year in the Top 10 of public and private HBCUs, tying with Claflin University in South Carolina for the ninth spot.
The number that most pleases President Tony Allen, though, is DSU’s ranking at No. 8 for undergraduate teaching for all schools in the Northeastern region. That illustrates the quality of the university’s faculty and academic programs, a school press release said.
“There’s a lot of hullabaloo about the rankings,” Allen said Tuesday, “but I really try to concentrate on what’s important to the university, and we’re doing well on social and economic mobility, undergraduate teaching, innovation and overall retention. That’s the stuff that’s important to me, and that’s the stuff that’s been driving our ascent for some time now. So regardless of where we place as long as we’re up in those categories, I feel very good about it.”
DSU remains the fastest growing HBCU in the country and the top choice for students of color in Delaware, a press release said.
It’s ranked at 28 in social mobility and 14th in innovation.
Social mobility measures the success of a school to graduate students from low-resource communities and help them better their lives.
Allen said he didn’t think that the uproar over sexual assault on campus during the last school year affected the ratings.
“I think the way the university community responded with the Safe Space Coalition has been really helpful,” Allen said. About one-third of the members of the coalition are students, he said.
“First of all, it’s given us a lot of feedback on the areas we can get better,” he said. “Having them help us think through how to make sure that the environment is right is important.”
The school’s rankings reflect a continually expanding research portfolio, the addition of helicopter flight training to its Aviation Program, the launching of the Early Childhood Innovation Center on campus, and the successful integration of Wesley College which is now the home of College of Health and Behavioral Sciences at DSU Downtown, the school said in a press release.
The school also continues to receive big grants, although none as big as the $20 million it received from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in 2020.
In the last year, it’s received a multimillion grant from Pepco Holdings, although with donations from Agilent Technologies and Sallie Mae, and it continues to partner with J.P. Morgan
Chase and Bank of America.
“While I’m always looking for transformational opportunities, I think what we’ve seen over the last two years now has been a different level of support for the university and I’m very appreciative of that,” Allen said.
Nasai Oliver, president of the University’s Student Government Association, said in a university press release that students are the real beneficiaries of Delaware State University’s high standing among HBCUs.
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Provost Saundra DeLauder said the ranking demonstrates DSU’s continued commitment to excellence in academic programming and student support services.
“I am proud of the work of our faculty and staff who continue to place the success of our students as their number 1 priority,” Dr. DeLauder said.
The institution’s consistent ranking among top tier public HBCUs “is a testament to the consistent ability of our faculty and staff to deliver a quality education to our students, to achieve strong levels of student persistence, and to expand the ever-increasing profile of the institution,” said Dr. Lynda Murray-Jackson, associate vice president of Institutional Effectiveness. “The quality education DSU delivers allows the students to graduate and be successful, which is the real measure of our impact.”
Allen hopes to see DSU become a 10,000-person campus by 2030, which is one point in its strategic plan.
Last year, its official census was 6,248 and Allen expects that to grow for the 2023-24 year, which will be reported Oct. 31. The 10,000 students would include graduate, international and online students, he said.
With the acquisition of Wesley College, DSU has plenty of dorm space, he said. Between the main campus and DSU Downtown, the number of students living on campus between now is 3,150, just shy of the 3,200 beds.
Also this week, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs named DSU on its 2023 list of Fulbright Historically Black Colleges and Universities Institutional Leaders.
The school joined 19 other HBCUs in being named Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leaders, a recognition that commends the strong partnership between the J. William Fulbright
Program and the nation’s Black Colleges.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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