DSU ranked #3 public HBCU by U.S. News & World Report

DOVER — In its annual rankings of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, U.S. News & World Report has advanced Delaware State University to the #3 public HBCU and #11 overall HBCU in the nation, officials said this week. 

DSU has held the #4 position among public HBCUs since 2016, and was rated #13 among all HBCUs in 2020.

The university’s ranking increased primarily due to improvements in the social mobility, alumni giving and faculty support metrics that U.S. News employs to score 103 HBCUs nationwide.

“No ranking can accurately capture how important institutions like Delaware State University are to ensuring that any barrier to higher education can be overcome. We do more with substantively less and still punch well above our weight in delivering a diverse talent pipeline in every field of human endeavor,” DSU President Tony Allen said in a prepared statement. “Like the Wall Street Journal rankings, U.S. News helps tell an important part of our story, but there is so much more to say.”

The university scored a 28% increase in the Social Mobility Index, which measures the perfor-mance of Pell Grant recipients, representing students from low-resource families, against those of students who do not need a high level of financial aid to complete their education. U.S. News found that Pell Grant recipients at Delaware State University have risen to exactly the same six-year graduation rate as non-Pell recipients.

“That social mobility factor is easily the most significant for any HBCU,” Dr. Allen said. “It measures our ability to support ALL students in literally changing the trajectory of their lives by acquiring a high-quality, low-cost college education that prepares them to enter a meaningful, prosperous ca-reer. It is critical for students from low-income communities. ”

Coordinated communications that involved alumni contributed to “significantly increased” giving, Vita Pickrum, vice president for institutional advancement said in a news release. She noted that alumni represented the large group of donors to the University’s recent successful drive to raise over $1.2 million for the COVID Student Emergency Relief Fund. 

“We couldn’t have achieved our goal to provide assistance to struggling students without them,” she said. 

Provost Saundra DeLauder in a statement emphasized the significance of improving faculty support and compensation.

“We’ve been continuously improving our compensation packages over the past sev-eral years. While it is gratifying to see the improvement in the ranking, what matters to us most is an improved ability to recruit new faculty and retain our most outstanding teachers and researchers,” she said.

Average faculty compensation improved by $4,600 between 2020-2021 while expenditures supporting faculty in terms of research and direct academic support also increased by about $2 million annually in each category. DSU, now an R-2 research institution, ranks #6 among all HBCUs in research and in the top third of all research universities nationwide.

“The real challenge this year has been providing an outstanding education to our students while keeping them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and not losing sight of our growth objectives,” Dr. Allen said.

He noted that in July DSU became the first HBCU ever to sign a definitive agreement to acquire a traditional institution of higher education, Wesley College in downtown Dover. 

“Bringing this downtown campus into the Del State system truly expands the possibilities for Delaware State University, and the collective students we serve,” Wesley College President Bob Clark observed earlier this year.

Board of Trustees Chairwoman Devona Williams in a statement said she was excited but not surprised by the University’s rise in the rankings.

“We’ve worked very hard over the last several years to build a strong leader-ship team and we are laser focused on a shared strategic vision and our commitment to student success,” she said.