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Delaware State University Requests $26.2M From State for New Construction

Tue April 05, 2022 - Northeast Edition
Delaware Business Times

Delaware State University has a 400 acre campus off Route 13, but with a new downtown Dover campus and other acquisitions, the university is now poised to grow enrollment and services. (DSU photo)
Delaware State University has a 400 acre campus off Route 13, but with a new downtown Dover campus and other acquisitions, the university is now poised to grow enrollment and services. (DSU photo)

With plans to substantially grow its enrollment in the next eight years, Delaware State University (DSU) is asking the state for money to upgrade its football stadium and transform the former Dover Library into a research lab.

In total, DSU requested $26.2 million in capital improvement funding from the state, with two construction projects highlighted for those monies.

The university had an enrollment of 5,649 students in the fall of 2021, but the Delaware Business Times reported that DSU hopes to have close to double that many students by 2030, and to accommodate the exponential growth, the university will need to add to or renovate its existing space.

Modern Stadium May Help Attract More Students

A request of $7 million would help the state's lone historically Black university (HBU) in Dover to build more seats and amenities at the college's Alumni Stadium.

First opened in 1957, DSU's stadium has approximately 7,100 seats in the stands around a football field and running track. University President Tony Allen would like to add another 400 seats as well as a hospitality club, premium suites and other spectator concessions, reported the Delaware Business Times on April 1.

"What you see is a beautiful field, but what you may not see is a state-of-the-art stadium and seating," Allen told a state committee March 31. "We believe athletics in many ways is the gateway to universities like ours, and so we want to build capacity to have a stadium that feels like the university that we are becoming."

In his two years as DSU's president, Allen, and his administration, have been bullish on growing the HBU in terms of enrollment, space and prestige. The university has added a 50-acre campus in downtown Dover, and recently cut the ribbon on a new facility fronting the St. Jones River geared toward its graduate and continuing education programs.

Old Library to Be Transformed into Research Center

Another project targeted by DSU includes turning the former Dover library into an interdisciplinary rehabilitation research center.

Allen requested $3 million to turn the space into a research lab and demonstration kitchen. The 18,000-sq.-ft. library once belonged to the former Wesley College, which DSU now owns after acquiring the small private college last summer.

The future lab would include kinesiology, exercise, physiology, rehab, injury prevention, gait and movement analysis labs, in addition to seven other research labs, the Business Times reported.

The bulk of DSU's request in capital infrastructure funds was $15 million to help address the college's current $81 million in deferred maintenance needs. Since DSU bought a 21-building second campus with its purchase of Wesley College, it now must address ADA compliance, fire codes, safety and roof replacements in some of the structures.

"It's still a big number for us," Allen told the Delaware business news source. "You'll note … some of the investments we have made are important to our overall growth, but we still have much work to do."

DSU Still Needs More Money for Tech Upgrades

Finally, DSU also has requested $1.2 million to start making technology improvements, such as increasing wireless access across campus, implementing a cloud server, and upgrading its cybersecurity and data center server. But that request would only be a fraction of the estimated $15 million needed by the university to upgrade its technology, according to the Business Times.

Delaware Gov. John Carney's initial budget proposal allocated $15 million for DSU. However, the state expects it will see an estimated $800 million budget surplus this year while also keeping some federal COVID-19 relief funding.

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