Delaware State University is starting the new decade with a new president, and in his own words, he and his team are focused on making their institution “the most diverse, contemporary Historically Black College and University [HBCU] in the nation.”
Tony Allen was named Delaware State’s 12th president on January 1, 2020, succeeding Wilma Mishoe, the University’s first female chief, who retired at the end of 2019. Allen had served as Delaware State’s Executive Vice President and Provost since 2017, when he joined the institution. Prior to that, he worked at Bank of America; was an executive vice president at MBNA Bank; and the founding president of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League. He also formerly worked for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden as a speech writer and special assistant.
Currently, about 64% of Delaware State’s 5,000 students are African-American. Allen intends to enhance the University’s attraction to additional Black students, at the same time he broadens its profile to include more students from groups that are either chronically under-represented in college or poorly served by public education.
“In Delaware and across the nation,” Allen says, “we’re looking for students with a fire to succeed, regardless of the color of their skin, their country of origin, the god they worship, or the ones they choose to love.”
A primary example of the University’s expanding definition of diversity is its commitment to the children of undocumented workers, the “Dreamers.” Delaware State was among the first institutions in the country to welcome Dreamers to its campus.
Allen commented, “ I continue to get asked if HBCUs are still relevant in today’s world, and my response is always, ‘If you didn’t have HBCUs like Delaware State University, you’d have to invent us.’ There are very few places that can provide a quality, affordable, four-year comprehensive education to all students, regardless of their economic circumstance. As a system, HBCUs represent the best return on value in the nation.”