Delaware State University has announced that it has reached an agreement to purchase Wesley College and absorb the institution into the university. According to Delaware State, no historically Black college or university has ever before acquired a non-HBCU educational institution. The acquisition is expected to be completed by June 30, 2021.
Wesley College in Dover, Delaware, was founded in 1873 as the Wilmington Conference Academy. It became Wesley College Institute in 1918 and Wesley College conferred its first four-year degrees in 1978. Graduate programs were added in the 1990s. The institution is Delaware’s oldest private college. Wesley College enrolls just over 1,200 undergraduate students and slightly more than 100 graduate students, according to the latest data supplied to the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up 41 percent of the undergraduate student body.
Important synergies between the two institutions make this acquisition highly desirable for Delaware State University. The university has long noted a strategic need to have a greater downtown presence in Dover. Incorporating the Wesley campus would allow for expanded academic offerings, enhance facilities capacity for both campuses, and support the university in responsible growth and expansion, according to a news release issued by Delaware State University.
“The time for bold innovation for young people is now, particularly for students who have made it to college by sheer determination against sometimes enormous odds,” said Delaware State University President Tony Allen. “Acquiring a college like Wesley, which serves a very similar student base, boasts strong academic programs, and brings sustained economic impact to Downtown Dover and Kent County, is a significant step closer to our broader vision – a substantively diverse, contemporary and unapologetically Historically Black College or University.”
Wesley College Board Chair William Strickland said, “The Board of Trustees of Wesley College is very excited to join Delaware State University. With the changing landscape of higher education, combining resources and cost efficiencies will likely become imperative for colleges and universities to not only survive, but more importantly, to thrive.”
“This will be a very involved process, but if we are successful, we consider this to be a real opportunity to expand our capacity thoughtfully and responsibly grow in multiple dimensions for years to come,” agreed Dr. Devona Williams, Board Chair at Delaware State University.