Mishoe named DSU’s first female interim president

From left, Wilma Mishoe, Devona Williams and John Ridgeway will take on new leadership positions at Delaware State University after current DSU President Harry Williams completes his service on Jan. 25. (Submitted photo/Delaware State University)

DOVER — The Mishoe name is one that goes hand-in-hand with the history of Delaware State University.

Dr. Wilma Mishoe, already a history-making board chairwoman at DSU, added to her family’s legacy at the Dover institution as she was named the first female interim president in the university’s history on Thursday.

Vice Board Chairwoman Dr. Devona Williams was named interim board chair while Dr. Mishoe takes over responsibilities of the president.

The changes will become effective on Jan. 25, 2018, as current President Dr. Harry Williams transitions from his post to become president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

“Our priority is to keep the university moving forward with an intentional focus on student success,” Dr. Mishoe said, of her interim role. “Under Dr. Harry Williams’ leadership, Delaware State University grew boldly and became one of the premier institutions of our kind in the nation.

“That momentum must continue; standing still while we search for our next great leader is not an option. We have to keep innovating and improving.”
Dr. Mishoe’s connection with Delaware State University is one she has maintained since childhood.

She is the daughter of the late Dr. Luna Mishoe, DSU’s longest-serving chief executive, who led then-Delaware State College from 1960-1987, who is often credited with laying the foundation for the university’s dramatic growth in the decades that followed.

Dr. Mishoe and Dr. Williams had already made history in August, when they were named the first board chairwoman and vice chairwoman, respectively, in the university’s 126-year history.

Delaware Gov. John Carney noted the Mishoe family legacy when Dr. Mishoe was elected chair of the DSU Board of Trustees over the summer.

“The Mishoe family’s legacy is unmatched,” said Gov. Carney. “From Luna Mishoe’s service as a Tuskegee Airman in World War II and his 27-year tenure as president of Delaware State College to Wilma Mishoe’s distinguished career, the family has been committed to service and to expanding access and opportunity through higher education for decades.”

Dover City Councilman Roy Sudler Jr., who represents the 4th District, said he and his brother Travis Mishoe Sudler, were both excited for their mother Dr. Mishoe.

“I am very excited for my Mishoe family, especially my mother Dr. Wilma Mishoe, who in my eyes is an impeccable lady full of educational knowledge, wisdom and a true servant of the people,” Mr. Sudler said. “I knew that if anyone from our family would be the one to bring the Mishoe leadership back to Delaware State University, then it would be my mother.

“This is a true demonstration of her loyalty, obedience and willingness to serve a higher calling then oneself. For now, The entire Mishoe family is very humble and appreciative of this opportunity to serve as the focal point of DSU academia.”

On Thursday, the board also named John Ridgeway as second vice chair.

A presidential search committee will be named in the coming weeks and will include a wide variety of university stakeholders. They will begin their work in January.

Dr. Mishoe said Thursday’s decision marked the beginning of a deliberate, orderly and transparent process to find the university’s next president.

This marks the second time Dr. Mishoe has stepped away from a university board to serve as acting president. After 11 years on the board of Wilberforce University, she was selected as acting president there in 2014.

She brings into the DSU president’s office 35 years as a higher education administrator, mostly at Delaware Technical Community College, from which she retired in 2010, and also at then-Wilmington College from 1975-1980.

Tony Allen, executive vice president and provost of DSU, was particularly pleased with the move for the entire university community.

“Dr. Mishoe does not simply possess a legendary last name, she is a university executive of the highest caliber who knows our institution personally, understands Delaware and all the communities we serve up and down the state” Mr. Allen said, “and shares a vision for our future that demands excellence and attention to detail that our students, parents, alumni and stakeholders deserve.

“We will all benefit immensely from her leadership during this transition.”

Dr. Williams, who takes over as interim board chairwoman, has been a member of the board of trustees since her early 2012 appointment by then-Gov. Jack Markell.

President Williams said Dr. Williams is one of the university’s most treasured talents.

“She not only brings an intellectual savvy to some of the most complex problems facing boards in the higher education space, she also extends what we all need in moments of big transition, good ole fashion common sense,” the president said.

“Delaware State is fortunate to count her among its university family. I know she will serve us well in this transition period and beyond.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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