Jokes were cracked, programs were praised and millions state funding was requested from Delaware State University Thursday’s Joint Finance Committee hearing.
That committee is responsible for setting the state budget and allocating funding to different programs and organizations throughout Delaware.
DSU, the state’s only Historically Black College and University, is asking for about $47,000,000.
It started its hearing on a light note.
“Some of you may know I was in a fight with Elon Musk a couple of weeks ago,” said DSU President Tony Allen.
Allen released a strong statement of disdain in response to a tweet from Musk suggesting that pilots that graduate from HBCUs have a lower IQ.
Allen pointed out that out of the 101 HBCUs in America, DSU is ranked the third best public one and ninth overall.
Legislators applauded the successful and growing aviation program at DSU, which has 110 professional pilot students and 47 aviation management majors.
Established at the institution in 1987, the aviation program owns a fleet of 26 airplanes. They are maintained at Delaware Airpark in Cheswold, the program’s base of flight training operations.
The school also recently partnered with United Airlines to help create professional opportunities for aviation students and graduates.
“I get excited when you come in here,” said JFC Chair Trey Paradee, D-Dover. “There are times I want to laugh and cry, I’m just really excited to always hear all the good things that are happening on campus.”
Similar to the recent conversation in Colonial School District leading up to its tax referendum this month, Paradee told Allen that DSU deserves and needs better sports facilities.
He said he recently attended a competitive basketball game between in-state rivals DSU and UD, but couldn’t help but notice that there’s some high schools in Delaware with better courts and facilities than DSU.
“It’s just incredible that you have a bunch of middle schoolers who have a nicer gym facility or basketball facility than the men and women’s basketball team at Delaware State University,” he said.
High school recruits might find it more attractive because their sports facilities are state-of-the-art.
Allen agreed, but there was no funding amount discussed for new or upgraded facilities.
The relatively new master’s of clinical psychology program is also something the committee touted.
Rep. Kim Williams, D-Marshallton, who is chair of the House Education Committee, said this is important because of the shortage of mental health professionals, which is problematic because there’s been legislation that actually requires more psychologists, specialists, therapists and other mental health workers to be in schools.
Her counterpart, Sen. Laura Sturgeon, D-Hockessin and chair of the Senate Education Committee, noted that a bachelor in psychology is not sufficient to become a clinical psychologist.
“When we say a psychologist, we’re thinking of a clinical worker who sits down and talks and counsels and gives therapy,” she said. “Talk therapy with patients, various forms of cognitive therapies and what not that cannot be done with just a bachelor’s.”
Allen said that during his tenure, he’s always believed it’s important to align the interests of DSU with the interests of the state, and clearly, the state has shown an emphasis on mental health in recent years.
Sturgeon also said that one way DSU could need less state funding is by raising tuition, but Allen said the institution prides itself on being incredibly affordable.
In-state tuition for DSU is just $8,500 a year, compared to $14,040 for UD.
The legislators were happy with DSU’s Inspire Scholarship, which offers a full-ride to underprivileged Delaware students. Since its creation in 2010, it’s helped more than 2,500 students attend DSU.
Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Dover and a member of the Senate Education Committee, said the school has done an excellent job with the scholarship program.
The requested funding would help support these programs, expand the social work employment opportunities at the school, and support the master of clinical psychology and master of teaching programs.
University of Delaware
The largest institution of higher education in the First State, with nearly 24,000 students, is asking for $143,849,100 in state funding.
Along with supporting programs, $2,500,000 in is for First State Promise Program Scholarship, which President Dennis Assanis said makes a UD degree more affordable for thousands of Delaware families.”
$1,350,200 also was requested for the dual degree program in engineering, which is a partnership with DSU that creates pathways, stipends, scholarships and research opportunities for students to pursue an engineering career.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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