Delaware State University brought up during first presidential debate

DOVER — Delaware State University made the first presidential debate Tuesday night.


The reference came after national news reports that former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t attend Delaware State, a Dover-based HBCU though he seemingly claimed to.


A DSU spokesman earlier Tuesday explained how that issue arose.


Director of News Services Carlos Holmes wrote to the media:

“In advance of the first Presidential Debate this evening, in case it comes up during the debate, I thought it would be helpful for media to have the following information concerning Joe Biden’s statement that “he got his start at Del State” that was mischaracterized by some media last weekend – especially since many of the articles attributed me as the source that he never attended DSU.


“The Washington Times emailed the University early last week with the simple question “Did Joe Biden ever attend DSU?” After being forwarded to me for response, I took it to be the question of a fact-checker or someone who needed clarity over whether he attended Delaware State University or the University of Delaware. The reporter did not mention anything about his campaign statement last year, and at that point I was totally unaware of it.

“I responded to the reporter, informing her truthfully that Biden never attended DSU, but that he had been a DSU Commencement keynote speaker twice and that the University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2003.

“Last weekend I found out that inquiry and my response was being used by some media to portray Biden in a dishonest light.

“I have since learned what Joe Biden meant during a 2019 South Carolina town hall meeting when he said he ‘got his start at Del State.’

“It is unfortunate that the Washington Times never asked us to respond to Joe Biden’s comments at the October 2019 town hall in South Carolina.

“Watched in full context, it is clear that Biden was discussing his long association with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, not making a claim that he had attended Delaware State University. He ‘got his start’ when he announced his first run for the US Senate on our campus in 1972 with then-Delaware State College President Luna Mishoe at his side. For three decades, first as US Senator and then as Vice President, Joe Biden has been our advocate and partner to such a critical extent that in 2003 the University awarded him an honorary doctorate.

“I hope that the above is helpful to you in understanding how that particular article subject rolled out.”

Joe Biden delivers his speech as he accepts the Democratic nomination for president Thursday night. TNS photo