DSU receives $1 million gift from TikTok

DOVER – Delaware State University received $1 million from the social media group TikTok Wednesday.

DSU is one of 10 academic institutions nationwide to receive $1 million awards issued nationwide funding “scholarships for students pursuing medical careers or other health related fields, ensuring the success of future Black, Latinx, and Indigenous health heroes.”

The awards are part of TikTok’s “Health Heroes Relief Fund,” which is intended to recognize “academic institutions that are helping to grow our next generation of health heroes. These institutions serve underrepresented students with programs focused on public health and professions in the medical and healthcare fields.”

“Having your school receive an award from TikTok is particularly cool,” Emily Campanelli, a junior majoring in political science and the secretary of the Student Government Association, said in a prepared statement. “Students live on social media, especially during the pandemic, and it says a lot about your institution to be recognized by one of the giants in the industry.”

 University President Tony Allen said in a prepared statement that the university was grateful to TikTok for the gift.

“The University’s Public and Allied Health Department, chaired by Dr. Robert C. Mason, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michelle Fisher, RN, managed a small army of employee and student volunteers who came out every test day — rain or shine — to administer the 35,000 tests necessary to keep us all safe,” he said. “There were dozens of them on duty every day, and these are our heroes.”

Between late July and mid-November, Delaware State University conducted over 35,000 COVID-19 tests, with students and employees lining up for them twice weekly. In conjunction with universal mask use, social distancing, hybrid instruction, and contact tracing, the University’s “Together” COVID response plan recorded only 121 student positive results. This positive result rate of less than 0.5% was among national leaders, allowing students to stay safely in residence throughout the Fall Semester.

Dr. Mason mobilized faculty and students alike to operate the testing stations.

 “Thanks in no small measure to Dr. Mason’s leadership, the Department of Public and Allied Health has not only been at the forefront of organizing and supporting our testing regime, but did so without creating a pause in the faculty’s research agendas or impairing their high-level engagement with their students,” Provost Saundra DeLauder said in a prepared statement. “The faculty showed their students how to put their professional values and skills into full operation when it mattered for their community. We are all extremely proud of them.”

Dr. Fisher, as chief medical officer, spearheaded the technical details of the testing program in conjunction with the University’s major partner, non-profit Testing for America. 

Dr. Fisher, who was recognized this year by Delaware Today as one of “Delaware’s Top Nurses 2020” in multiple categories, was lauded by Dr. Stacy Downing, vice president for Student Affairs.

 “Dr. Fisher has been a remarkable partner as we navigate through COVID,” Dr. Downing said. “Her knowledge in the health field is shown through her dedication, passion and compassion undoubtedly makes her mine and DSU’s ‘health hero.’”

The donation comes on the tails of a historic gift made by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who donated $20 million to the university Tuesday.