DSU President Mishoe retiring at the end of 2019

DOVER — Delaware State University President Wilma Mishoe plans to retire at the end of the year.

“If time had permitted, it would certainly have been my preference to speak to each of you individually to share my good news,” she said in a YouTube video posted Wednesday.

Upon first informing students of her upcoming departure, Dr. Mishoe said her cell phone began “blowing up with texts” almost immediately.

The official public announcement came Thursday morning on her 70th birthday; DSU’s top official didn’t have time to contemplate the far reaching effect of her decision on others.

“I’ve been in meetings all day and really haven’t communicated with anyone outside the university,” she said during a quick break following lunch.

Dr. Mishoe, the first woman to lead DSU, was named the interim president in November 2017, just a few months after being named chairwoman of the board of trustees. It was announced in June 2018 she would become the permanent president, a position she was officially sworn into in December.

Also Thursday, the university announced that current Provost Dr. Tony Allen will be elevated to president on the first day of 2020. The school spotlighted Dr. Mishoe’s impact in the immediate wake of her announcement and said DSU’s future direction would be discussed publicly at a later time.

Dr. Mishoe’s father, the late Dr. Luna Mishoe, guided then-Delaware State College from 1960-1987, becoming the school’s longest tenured chief executive.

“To be president, headquartered on the campus where I grew up, was not a possibility that I ever imagined, but it has been both an enormous honor and intense responsibility,” she said.

There’s going to be more time to spend with family — including granddaughter (a DSU freshman) and grandson (Smyrna High sophomore), along with a great-granddaughter.

“I know my wonderful family loves me and has accepted the time I’ve spent elsewhere without asking for anything in return … but do I feel a bit guilty that I haven’t been able to give them the attention they deserve,” Dr. Mishoe said, adding that she can soon revive her passion for sewing, travel and reconnect with friends.

Also, she said, “I’ve been employed since I was 14 and I think it’s time to ‘do me’ a bit more. I can roll over in bed in the morning if I choose instead of rolling out and starting right in with the day’s schedule.”

Powerful legacy

Said Dr. Allen in a news release, “None of the University’s achievements over the past two years would have been possible without the graceful, powerful leadership of this President.

“She served the University at a time of dynamic transition, bringing stability, renewed confidence, and a fiery, big vision to an institution that has long deserved to take its proper place in higher education in Delaware and around the world.

“She carries a legendary last name, but she is her own powerhouse and will forever be the grand dame of Delaware State University.”

According to Alisa Winchester, a 2019 graduate and Harry S. Truman Scholarship winner, “Every student who crossed Dr. Mishoe’s path could instantly feel just how much she cared about us, and our success.

“As a black woman trying to make my way in the world, Dr. Mishoe is an everyday example of what’s possible and her belief in all of us could not be more real. When I won the Truman Scholarship, she looked me in my eyes, hugged me hard and told me that nothing can stop me.”

Dr. Mishoe explained her connection with students in the news release.

“They all become my daughters and sons while they are here and that doesn’t stop just because they walk across a stage and I hand them a diploma,” she said. “These students will always be part of my family and own a piece of my heart.”

As word of the retirement spread, Delaware Gov. John Carney lauded Dr. Mishoe on Facebook. The post read, in part:

“DSU has long been one of Delaware’s most important and historic institutions, and its contributions to our state, and our ability to attract young people to Delaware, have never been greater.

“For that, we owe a significant debt of gratitude to Dr. Mishoe and her family.

“We will miss Dr. Mishoe’s leadership, and her passion for education. But I want to congratulate Dr. Mishoe on a well-deserved retirement after a long career of service to Delaware.”

DSU’s culture, mission

Roy Sudler Jr., a Dover councilman, said his mother “has set forth a template of how to sustain the organizational culture and climate of DSU’s educational mission and positive community impact.

“She has a legacy of her own and never wanted to become president of DSU. She only took the job temporarily so that the school could make the best possible transition to new leadership that would especially be able to continue a strong relationship between Legislative Hall and DSU to meet the complex and wide ranging challenges that the university faces.

“I think my mother feels like she has fulfilled that role to complete that transition.”

Dr. Mishoe has spent 44 years in higher education, beginning at then-Wilmington College and followed by a Delaware Technical Community College stint. She served as Capital School District Board of Education president and served as interim president and board of trustees member for Wilberforce University.

A return to the school’s Board of Trustees, where Dr. Mishoe previously served as chairperson would allow his mother to continue impacting DSU, her son said.

“She has been a longstanding champion of educational servitude with a transformational leadership style and I know the University has moved into a better place during her time as president,” Mr. Sudler said. “I know that she will continue to contribute to DSU through her ultimate knowledge of the institution gained through so many years of wide ranging experiences here.”

Also, Dr. Mishoe serves as the Mount Zion AME church’s pastor steward, is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority and Link and supports other community-based groups.

“I’m sure she’ll continue in all they key roles she plays in organizations separate from DSU and will have more time available to lend her support,” Mr. Sudler said.

In a letter to the DSU community on Thursday, Dr. Mishoe said “I am far from done. When I retire from the Presidency of this great University …, I know I will go to new adventures, confident that I have left or great, shared enterprise in good hands.

“My heart will always reside on this campus, and my hands will be here whenever needed.”

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