Faculty members have filed a lawsuit against Wesley College, alleging that its impending acquisition by Delaware State University (DSU) will violate multiple contracts of tenured faculty and make it impossible for them to seek damages if income is lost.
Plaintiffs have asked the court to declare the acquisition fraudulent. They claim the agreement only benefits DSU and that Wesley has unfairly breached tenured contracts, resulting in “significant losses of income” for them in the upcoming academic year.
In an effort to prevent the acquisition from taking place, the faculty members also filed motions to expedite proceedings so that no additional assets will be handed over to DSU while the case is ongoing.
Just last year, DSU announced its plans to absorb the 148-year-old Dover college for $15 million over three years as the first historically Black college or university (HBCU) in the country to acquire a non-HBCU institution.
When the decision was made, Wesley had agreed to surrender all its assets — buildings, degree programs, and intellectual properties — to DSU by July 1 of this year. But not all were onboard with the idea.
The plaintiffs sought an injunction on the transfer, realizing that it would be difficult for them to seek monetary damages once the merger pushes through, because all assets will already be handed over to DSU.
Delaware Online reported that tenured faculty contracts are distributed on March 15 of every academic year. When the acquisition was announced, the contracts were delayed until July 15, 2020. Also, it is written in the faculty handbook that if a teaching position or program is to be cut off, faculty should be notified by March 15 of the preceding year.
In their case, Wesley faculty were notified on March 15, 2021, that “they would not have a renewed contract and hiring decisions would be left to DSU” which they argue led to a loss of income.