The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is facing yet another critical period in its 23-year long history. Ever since three former colleges – D.C. Teachers College, Federal City College and Washington Technical Institute – merged in 1977 to form UDC, it remains the nation’s only exclusively-urban land-grant public historically Black college or university (HBCU). Yet, UDC has consistently struggled through many years of inadequate funding and political neglect. Despite its challenges, thousands of UDC graduates demonstrate pride and appreciation for the relevant and affordable education UDC provided them that led to meaningful and successful careers.
Under the leadership of President Ronald Mason, UDC is launching a public awareness campaign to promote the need for more significant investment. In a press release distributed by the university, the campaign is described as a citywide effort that includes community town hall sessions and one-on-one meetings with business and political leaders. Named “Pathways to Possible: Investing in the Future,” the campaign “focuses on informing District residents of the current status of the Equity Imperative strategic plan for growth and to achieve its potential as the major driver of the District’s economic growth and development.”
The goal, according to the administration, is to secure “proper investment in public higher education [that] will create jobs and spur more economic activity throughout the region, while providing students with much-needed improvements to campus buildings, classrooms and new technology.”
We agree that the goal cannot be accomplished while “UDC still lags-behind when compared to national and neighboring state funding levels.”
“Today, UDC is more stable, with clean audits, accreditation reaffirmations and a permanent footprint in key locations,” Mason said. “Now is the time to build in earnest the university that the District requires – a public institution of higher learning in and for the nation’s capital.”
We support President Mason’s campaign, and we urge every elected official, as well as those seeking political office, to do more than give lip service to making support for UDC a priority. The business community is not exempt either, as it begins to realize UDC as a source for the recruitment of highly qualified personnel.
UDC’s legacy must not be defined by struggle and hardship but instead as a highly competitive institution of higher learning in which every District of Columbia resident will feel proud.