Former DSU president William B. DeLauder dies at 81

Former Delaware State University President Dr. William DeLauder attends commencement ceremonies at the school in 2016. He died Tuesday at the age of 81. Submitted photo/Delaware State University

DOVER — Delaware State University mourned the Tuesday passing of Dr. William B. DeLauder, the eighth president of the university, who served in that capacity from 1987 to 2003.

At the time of his passing, he and wife Vermell resided in Jamestown, North Carolina. Born on Sept. 29, 1937 in Frederick, Maryland, he was 81 at the time of his death.

In 1987, Dr. DeLauder succeeded Dr. Luna I. Mishoe (1960-1987) as president of then-Delaware State College, beginning a 16-year tenure that was marked by expansion and development of the college and later the university.

Current university President Wilma Mishoe, the daughter of Dr. Mishoe, said Dr. DeLauder continued the work for her father and his predecessor by furthering the transformation of the college and later the university.

“He was a gentle and thoughtful man who was brilliant in his approached to moving the university forward,” Dr. Mishoe said.

“He was also a scientist, and as such, he paid attention to the small details, and that served his administration and the university well. He was also an excellent photographer, a pursuit he truly enjoyed in his spare time.”

During his presidency, the student enrollment at Delaware State grew from 2,389 students to a then-record 3,367. Supporting the student population increases were the continued development of diverse academic programs, and the institution’s further expansion and enhancements of its buildings and other physical infrastructure

Eleven new master’s degree programs – Biology, Biology Education, Chemistry, Applied Chemistry, Physics, Physics Teaching, Mathematics, Mathematics Education, Historic Preservation, and Plant Science – were added during the DeLauder era.

With the growth of the degree programs, Dr. DeLauder revamped DSC’s academic administrative structure by establishing six main academic divisions — Arts and Sciences, Management, Agriculture, Education, Professional Studies and Graduate Studies — all of which would later become colleges within the institution’s higher education structure.

In what was the signature achievement under the institution’s eighth president, the DeLauder administration succeeded in making an effective case for the school’s elevation in status, and in 1993, the institution was renamed by the Delaware General Assembly from Delaware State College to Delaware State University.

Delaware Gov. John Carney offered his thoughts on Dr. DeLauder on Twitter Tuesday.

“I was sad to learn today of the passing of Dr. Bill DeLauder – a real leader in our state who served as president of Delaware State University for 16 years,” he said.

“Dr. DeLauder led a significant transformation at DSU, investing in the school’s facilities, adding new educational programs, and attracting more students from Delaware and out of state to study at the university.

“Dr. DeLauder helped make DSU what it is today — a strong institution of higher education that is helping lead our state into the future. He was a kind and thoughtful leader, and a real gentlemen. He will be missed.”

During Dr. DeLauder’s tenure, the transformation of the campus continued, with more than $100 million in new construction and improvements. That included the construction of the Warren-Franklin Residential Hall, the Mishoe Science Center-South (1995), the College of Business Building (originally named the MBNA Building, now named the Bank of America Building), the U.S. Washington Cooperative Extension Building and Herbarium, the University Courtyard Apartments, a four-story Administration Building (2003), as well as the Pedestrian Mall.

It was under Dr. DeLauder’s leadership that the institution launched its first capital fundraising drive in 1991 — the Century II Capital Campaign, which raised millions of dollars to strengthen its scholarship fund, its endowment, and improve its teaching and research capabilities

In what would have great impact in subsequent DSU administrations, Dr. DeLauder established the Office of Sponsored Program in 1992 to attract federal grants as well as to oversee the proper management of awarded funds.

The office helped the institution obtain $9.5 million over its first 10 years in existence, and would later be important in the significant expansion of research programs at the university.

Funeral arrangements for Dr. DeLauder were incomplete Tuesday.

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