The University of the District of Columbia [UDC] commemorated its 45th year of existence with an opening convocation that allowed officials to highlight investments in students, faculty, infrastructure and other aspects of campus life.
The convocation also provided keynote speaker Attorney General Karl A. Racine a chance not only to honor his late mother and UDC professor Dr. Marie-Marcelle Buteau Racine, but emphasize the university’s significance to the droves of District residents who enroll each semester.
“There’s a wealthy D.C. with cranes, development, and increasing attractiveness. We also see the most intense level of displacement anywhere in the country relative to other states,” Racine said on Thursday, Sept. 22 at UDC’s Theater of the Arts Auditorium on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest.
During his remarks, Racine, the District’s first elected attorney general, reflected on his electoral victories in 2014 and 2018.
He credited his mother, a foreign language and linguistics professor who passed away last year, with boosting his appeal among voters who, upon learning about the familial connection, shared their memories about Dr. Racine.
Officials recognized Dr. Racine and Dr. Virginia Pearl Hymes Howard, who passed away in August.
As he continued to touch on lessons his mother gave him and his sister, Racine told students that they must work hard and take advantage of the opportunities afforded to them at UDC. However, he didn’t shy away from stressing that the District invests in UDC and other resources that address gaps in education, employment, health, and housing,
“We must enlighten, engage, and prepare young people to have independent lives where they can fully take care of themselves and lift their people up,” said Racine.
“There’s no other institution that’s dedicated to the residents of the District of Columbia and them reaching their full potential.”
The opening convocation marked UDC’s full return to in-person learning. As of September 23, the university has reported three COVID cases since the beginning of the academic year.
Graduates from District public and public charter schools account for more than 60 percent of UDC students.
Under UDC President Ronald Mason, the university increased, and then ultimately maintained, enrollment levels this year after 200 applicants didn’t provide proof of COVID vaccination.
A handful of university vice presidents and 50 new tenure-track professors also joined UDC’s ranks at a time when university officials announced cost-of-living wage increases for all staff members. Other enhancements include workforce pipelines in the healthcare and technology fields, along with an improved relationship with D.C. Public Schools.
University officials announced $50 million of renovations on all campuses and strategies to provide learning on various instructional platforms. In addition to moving out of UDC facility offices at 801 North Capitol Street NE, UDC will expand its operations in Congress Heights and UDC- Community College Bertie Backus Campus in Northeast.
During the pandemic, and amid racial justice protests, UDC launched the Institute for the Study and Elimination of White Supremacy.
On Thursday, Christopher D. Bell, chair of UDC’s board of trustees, thanked students for their commitment to UDC throughout the pandemic and lauded the efforts of his colleagues to make the university run as smoothly as possible.
“It’s been hard to manage resources. We’re investing and thriving,” said Bell. “It’s for all the students [who] deserve the best. We’re pleased that you’re here with us. We’re committed to help you succeed and get the resources you need to succeed.”