For the third straight year, Delaware State University has been ranked by US News and World Report as#4 nationwide among public Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The University reached that position by vaulting from #9 in 2016 to its current ranking in 2017. The 102 HBCUs across the United States are a mixture of public and private institutions; among both categories Delaware State University ranks #13 overall. The University ranked #21 in 2016.
Of many organizations compiling university and college rankings each year, US News and World Report’s list is considered the “gold standard.” The magazine’s analysis compiles data about each university or college on everything from graduation rates and faculty qualifications to incoming SAT scores and the financial stability of the institution.
“While our primary indicators for progress embodied in our strategic plan,(https://www.desu.edu/sites/flagship/files/document/16/dsu-2020strategicplan.pdf), these rankings matter,” said University Provost and Executive Vice President Tony Allen, who is slated to become the University’s next president in January 2020. “Overall, it gives solid trend data in a number of important areas, tell us how we are doing in our sector and among our peers, and represents an initial starting point for prospective students and their parents when deciding where to apply. We are pleased to have maintained our standing again this year.”
A new category figured into the analysis for 2020: Social Mobility, which measures an institution’s ability to educate students from families with few financial resources, based on Pell Grant eligibility and other factors concerning socioeconomic status.
“Social Mobility is a critical and completely consistent with our mission,” Allen said. “It speaks to educating those who have been traditionally under served or overlooked in K12 education.” He pointed out that roughly 40% of the University’s students are Pell eligible and first generation. “When we are getting these students across the stage, we know that their next moves will set the pace for the many others who will look to their example.”
Of particular note is the University’s program for undocumented immigrant students – commonly known as Dreamers. Since 2016, the University has partnered with the The Dream.US in the Opportunity Scholarship Program; 150 Dreamers now attend DSU – including 29 students from the original cohort slated to graduate in May 2020. The first Dreamers have made the most of their higher education opportunity – boasting a 98% retention rate and an average GPA of 3.5.
Delaware State University offers a number of supports for all incoming students that Allen expects to impact graduation rates over the next few years. All incoming Freshmen receive an Apple iPad or Mac Book already bundled into their financial aid, and the University is committed to a fully integrated digital learning experience by the end of 2020. Each student also benefits an Individual Development Plan and a consistent web of advising, counseling, and wraparound supportive services.
“Our faculty and our professional advising staff work hand in hand to make sure nobody drops through the cracks,” said Lisa Dunning, Associate Vice President for Student Success. Over the past five years our Freshman retention rate has risen to about 72%,” as compared to the median national retention rate of 65.7%.
Provost Allen emphasized that prospective students and families need to look closely at everything the University has to offer. “Raising the profile and import of an institution that has long deserved to take its proper place in higher education in Delaware and around the world is a core priority for us. Getting the fourth year of the Inspire Scholarship for Delaware students, becoming the No.1 choice for Dreamers around the world, using our relationship with Apple to go digital, and continuing to hit record enrollment are all evidence of where we are headed.”
Asked about future rankings, Allen said, “As long as we are educating students to solve real world problems, making good on being Delaware’s State University and continuing to raise the standard of performance, there is no challenge beyond our capacity.”