Longtime Delaware civic, academic and banking leader Tony Allen is now president of Delaware State University.
Allen had been provost — the Dover school’s number 2 position — since June 2017, when he left an executive post with Bank of America.
The 49-year-old Allen succeeds Wilma Mishoe as president. Mishoe announced in May that she was retiring at the end of 2019.
Allen told WHYY Thursday that he plans to continue diversifying Delaware State, one of America’s 107 historically black colleges and universities. About 64% of the 5,000 students are black, he said, and his goal is to maintain its attraction as an HBCU school but also broaden the student body racially, ethnically and geographically.
“Our North Star is to be the most diverse contemporary HBCU in the nation,’’ Allen said.
“I continue to get asked if HBCUs still have relevancy, and my response has always been, ‘If you didn’t have HBCUs like Delaware State, you’d have to invent us.’ There are very few places that can give a four-year comprehensive education … but specifically focus on those often overlooked and underserved.”
Allen previously headed a panel to improve Wilmington’s K-12 schools and was founding president of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League.
He touts the Inspire Scholarship program for civic-minded in-state applicants with solid grade point averages.
“If you get a 2.75 and are a Delaware graduating high school student, with a commitment to some reasonable public service while you are in school, we’re going to give you a four-year scholarship,’’ Allen said.
“As I’ve gone around the state talking a bit more about Delaware State University, lots of different parents from all different backgrounds perk up at that opportunity. Once they understand the comprehensive nature of our institution and then some of the advantages they get by going to a state university, I believe the value proposition for them is real.”
In a news release, the school said that as provost Allen “developed a plan to increase the University’s annual research portfolio from $20 million to $35 million’’ over the next five to seven years, “as well as new educational, governmental, community and business partnerships to better position Delaware State University as a broad-based leader in the region.”
Board of trustees chair Devona Williams said in the release that Allen “has proven himself time and again with the imagination, tenacity, and integrity he brought to Delaware State University.”
Williams added that “Tony has has materially strengthened our academic and research enterprise. He has a complete understanding of the challenges and opportunities in higher education, and particularly what it takes for students at a historically black college or university to succeed in academics, in establishing a career, and in life.”
Gov. John Carney said he has known Allen for a quarter-century and called him the right person to lead Delaware State.
“For 128 years, the university has created a unique pathway for Delaware students, from all different backgrounds and experiences, to get a world-class education and then stay right here to contribute to our success as a state,” Carney said. “Tony understands that the university’s role today is helping to build our workforce, while having both a social and economic impact on Delaware.”