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Delaware State Gala Raises Over $3 Million Dollars

December 12, 2023

WILMINGTON, DE – This past Saturday, December 9, the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington and Delaware State University welcomed 1,200 partners, alums, and friends to its annual Scholarship Ball. The sold-out Ball – held exclusively to support student scholarships – featured the high-octane R&B group SWV and legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff.

The Ball raised over $3 million and was highlighted as the single-largest contribution made by an Alumnus in the University’s 132-year history. Steve Ewing, a 1983 graduate of then-Delaware State College, presented the University with a $1 million gift. Mr. Ewing recently sold his automotive franchise, Wade Ford, one of America’s largest African-American-owned Ford dealerships. Mr. Ewing and his wife, Terri, live in Metropolitan Atlanta but are both Northern New Jersey natives.

In presenting the gift to the University, Mr. Ewing recounted the importance of Delaware State University in his life: “My parents gave me all the tools to be successful, but I am a better man, a better person because of Delaware State University.” He then immediately challenged the entire Alumni community to match his gift. Noting the significance of the gift, University President Tony Allen said, “Steve, you are an exemplary alumnus, one raised with a unique combination of tenacity, compassion, and grace – the very essence of the University’s creed, ‘Enter to learn; go forth to serve.’” Mr. Ewing chairs the University’s Athletic Transformation Committee, a newly formed group to anchor the University’s effort to bring a best-in-class, contemporary Athletic corridor to campus.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson

Earvin “Magic” Johnson Photo credit DSU communications

Mr. Ewing was introduced by NBA Hall of Famer and Chairman and Founder of Magic Johnson Enterprises, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who donated $600K to the University and promised an additional $1 million more as the University continues to grow the institution. Johnson is also the co-owner of SodexoMagic, a 17-year joint venture between Sodexo and Magic Johnson Enterprises. SodexoMagic is the food provider for the University.

Sallie Mae, a leading private lender in the student loan space and an educational solutions provider to students and families throughout the country, matched Mr. Ewing’s gift with a $1 million research endowment to the University to help close the college completion gap. The Sallie Mae Fund grant will support a comprehensive three-year “Persistence and Completion Pilot Program” that will study and identify barriers to degree completion, help students return to school and complete it, and help advance policy recommendations and best practices to enhance student re-engagement. Tannie Speaks, c/o ’22, who graduated after a long absence, noted the importance of the program, saying “Thank you to DSU for being a place that welcomes those of us who took a detour. You clarify that it’s never too late to chase your dreams.”

 In accepting the corporate award from Sallie Mae, CEO John Witter commented, “We know the promise of higher education comes from earning a degree, yet too often, underserved and underrepresented students face obstacles that cause them to stop out or drop out altogether. Our mission-aligned partnership with DSU aims to remove barriers to degree completion so that more students have the resources to cross the finish line.”


The University also presented the following awards during the Ball:

  • The Community Partnership Award

Delmarva Power

  • The Alumni Partners Award

Joel V. Coppadge, c/o ‘81