A Bump in the Road for Delaware State University’s Acquisition of Wesley College

Nearly a year ago, historically Black Delaware State University announced plans to acquire Wesley College and merge its operations into the university. The merger was expected to be completed by July 1, 2021. But now a last-minute hurdle to the acquisition has emerged.

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. In the fall of 2019, before the global pandemic, Wesley College enrolled about 1,150 students. African Americans made up 39 percent of the student body.

A group of tenured faculty members at Wesley College have filed a lawsuit claiming that the acquisition breaches the contractual obligations the college made with its faculty. The suit also claims that the college’s assets have not been fairly assessed. The university is not paying anything but is simply assuming the college’s debt. The suit claims that this is a fraudulent transfer of assets.

“The transfer by Wesley of all its assets, both personal and real, without receiving any liquid assets in return demonstrates that such a transfer is fraudulent with regards to the debts it owes the plaintiffs,” according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction prohibiting the disposition or transfer of any of Wesley’s properties or assets to the university until the contractual obligations to faculty have been fulfilled.

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