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UDC cuts nearly 100 positions

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The University of the District of Columbia is jettisoning nearly 100 positions from its staff and faculty in an effort to save $8.5 million a year, officials said Friday.

The cuts, expected to result in dozens of layoffs, come little more than a month after the UDC Board of Trustees fired President Allen L. Sessoms.

It was not immediately clear exactly how many employees would be laid off at the city’s public university and how many positions would be eliminated through attrition. A news release said 69 positions were abolished through a board vote Wednesday night. In addition, there were 28 “position eliminations” in an administrative shake-up that did not require a board vote, board Vice Chairman Christopher Bell said Friday.

Some of the positions eliminated were described as executive level, but a list was not immediately available.

“This is a very painful time for our university community,” board Chairwoman Elaine A. Crider said in a prepared statement. “We realize these actions impact peoples’ lives. The university values the contributions of all of our employees; however, these cuts are necessary in order to position the university to better serve its economic and educational mandates to the District of Columbia.”

Many of the cuts, Bell said, targeted administrative staff, in an effort to minimize the impact on students. He said a handful of faculty positions were eliminated.

The university, which has been under pressure to cut costs, is in the midst of planning how to “right-size” its operations. Officials have said the university’s unrestricted operating budget is about $108 million a year, with the city providing about $65 million in funding.

Fall enrollment data show there are 5,490 students at UDC. More than half (2,838) are enrolled in the two-year community college, which is headquartered on North Capitol Street NE and has satellite locations on South Dakota Avenue NE and Livingston Road SE. Another 2,019 are in the four-year undergraduate program, based at the main campus on Connecticut Avenue NW, while 380 are in the law school and 253 in other graduate programs.

In recent years, UDC, which has struggled with low graduation rates, has sought to raise its academic reputation. The low-price community college was launched in 2009, with the idea of raising tuition for the four-year program and making it more prestigious.

But debates have emerged over the university’s budget and governance. D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said last month there were “a lot of questions about the direction the university was heading” at the time Sessoms was fired.

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