By: Damani Eason; The Whetstone
Alumna Kristen Griffith remembers her college days like it was yesterday.
“Some of my fondest memories were on the soccer field getting the opportunity to score goals and hang out with the girls from my team,” said the 2017 Wesley graduate. “But I also practically lived in the editing room as co-editor for the Whetstone newspaper.”
Griffith said she was disappointed and angry when she found out that her alma mater was being acquired by Delaware State University due to financial issues.
“I’m mad with the leadership at Wesley College,” she said. “This situation is incredibly frustrating.”
It came as a shock to many alumni.
“Very shocking considering the fact that Wesley College has a good (sports) name for itself,” April Simmons, who graduated in 2004, said.
Kenya Milbourne, who graduated in 1993, said when she was a student at Wesley three decades ago, there was talk of financial problems.
“So with the college closing, it feels like a slap in your face,” she said.
Some alumni said Wesley College closed because of the lack of leadership from President Clark.
Kevin Johnson, who graduated in 2017, said he noticed a negative shift happened as soon as Clark became president in 2015-2016.
“As soon as President Clark came, I saw the school go downhill,” he said. “The retention rate was lower. Student population dipped.”
Evan Le’Mon, who also graduated in 2017, said Clark was supposed to be fixing issues instead of causing them.
“President Clark went on a campaign stating that he was trying to fix things on campus,” he said. “The college president’s job is to raise funds. He failed at his job.”
Milbourne said Wesley College should have been more transparent about the college’s financial issues, especially to the alumni.
“If the alumni had known sooner about Wesley’s money issues, I know a group of us that would’ve been more than willing to help donate money to keep the school alive,” she said.
Some alumni said they were worried what employers might say about their Wesley degrees.
“What will an employer think about getting a degree from a closed college?” Johnson asked.
Kyla Beverly-Bass, who graduated last December, said an employer already said something to her.
“The employer had knowledge about the acquisition,” she said. “The employer actually found it surprising an HBCU acquired Wesley and was worried about how students were being assisted.”
December alumna Lydia LaSure said students need to keep their heads above water.
“And for students who will be graduating soon, just hold on, you’re almost done.”