A new leadership chapter for Delaware State University began New Year’s Day, as Tony Allen became the institution’s 12th president in its 129-year history.
Allen succeeds Wilma Mishoe, who in September announced her retirement at the end of 2019.
Board of Trustees Chairperson Devona Williams noted that since he arrived at the institution in the summer of 2017, as executive vice president and provost, “Tony has proven himself time and again with the imagination, tenacity and integrity he brought to Delaware State University.”
In less than two years, Williams said, “Tony 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.
“Tony will definitely be a non-traditional president,” said Williams. “His strengths in business operations, organizational development and collaboration with stakeholders combine to give our university a transformational leader who will shape its future growth.”
At DSU, Allen has set a comprehensive tone on campus by widely and consistently stating, “It all matters.”
As provost and executive vice president, Allen led the redesign of the university’s academic colleges, the consolidation of academic advising assets under the Office of Student Success and realigned the priorities of Academic Affairs to make them consistent with the university’s strategic goals and key performance indicators.
He was also instrumental in the formation of a Strategic Enrollment Division that, for the first time in the institution’s history, places all front-end student services in one seamless organization. Allen was strongly involved in the strengthening of checks and balances that protect the university from liabilities.
With a long-term view toward the future, as provost he has developed a plan to increase the university’s annual research portfolio from $20 million to $35 million in the next 5 to 7 years, as well as new educational, governmental, community and business partnerships to better position DSU as a broad-based leader in the region.
Before his arrival, Allen worked at Bank of America from 2006-2017, where he served first as a communication executive and culminated his time as the managing director of corporate reputation. From 2004-2006, Allen worked for MBNA America Bank in Wilmington, where he was a general manager for the vice president, and later elevated to executive vice president.
He was the founding president of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League from 2000-2004, where he advanced a strategic agenda that impacted 100,000 Delawareans. His work there earned him the National Urban League’s highest honor, the Whitney M. Young Award for Advancing Racial Equality.
He served as a speechwriter and special assistant for the Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., then-U.S. senator for Delaware, from 1997-2000. He also has been a senior policy fellow for the University of Delaware’s Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration from 2003-present.
Gov. John Carney, who noted he has known Allen for 25 years, said he is confident that the right person has been found to lead DSU at this “exciting time” in the institution’s history.
“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,” said Carney. “Tony understands that the university’s role today is helping to build our workforce, while having both a social and economic impact on Delaware.”
On Nov. 1, 2019, the Delaware Barristers Association gave Allen its seal of approval by presenting him with its 2019 Excellence in Education Award “in recognition of a dynamic leader whose leadership and outstanding contributions to the field of education has demonstrated a true social commitment to social justice and equality for all.”
Allen holds a 1993 Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Delaware and a 1998 Master’s in Public Administration in nonprofit management and community development from the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, Baruch College.
He crowned his academic journey at the University of Delaware’s Joseph R. Biden Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration by completing in a 2001 Ph.D. His dissertation was on “Devolution and Intergovernmental Decision-Making: The Delaware Welfare Reform Experience.”