By Susan Kinzie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The president of the University of the District of Columbia will step down at the end of this month after five years as head of the city's public university.
William L. Pollard resigned yesterday, the board chairman said. But sources said that he was asked to leave when his contract ends June 30. Some people on campus were shocked; Pollard and the board had agreed to another five-year contract in October.
"We've had five great years," Pollard said in a statement released yesterday evening. "We've made great progress here and have much in which we can take justifiable pride, but now is a good time to transition to new challenges as I round out my career."
When Pollard arrived, the school had financial problems, run-down facilities, declining enrollment and low morale. Under his leadership, the school enrolled and retained more students, established a development office and added student services, spokesman Michael Andrews said. During Pollard's tenure, the law school was accredited for the first time, and the school has been reaccredited.
But sources said the board was concerned about management problems, including fundraising and maintenance issues and long-standing problems in the athletic department involving financial aid and academic eligibility.
Asked what Pollard's greatest accomplishments have been at UDC, board Chairman James W. Dyke Jr. said: "I think the fact that he was there for five years brought an era of stability to the university. That was very important, given in the past there has been significant turnover.
"He made a real good effort to reach out to students. He has obviously done a good job there. He has moved the university forward, brought stability. Now we're trying to build on that foundation to bring the university to the next level of excellence."
Dyke said the school faces a number of challenges, including launching a capital campaign "and getting our administrative house in order." The administration, with monitoring from a committee of trustees, is working on a plan to address problems in the athletic department in response to an NCAA investigation, he said.
"If we're going to continue to grow and progress," Dyke said, "we have to see a different UDC . . . a different campus plan, a campus that's friendly to students and alumni . . . more engaged with the District with respect to workforce training."
He said the board has been talking with the D.C. Council and the mayor about opportunities to improve UDC, including updating technology and records maintenance and studying the administrative structure.
Pollard did not return messages left for him yesterday evening.
"I'm shocked," said William Kellibrew IV, the senior class president. "I'm not happy about the situation. I think we've had a really great leader, and the school has definitely benefited from his work. . . . The university just at this point lacks a long-term vision. Where are we going if they keep removing presidents every few years?"
Stanley Jackson, a former District deputy mayor who came to UDC this year as chief of staff and senior vice president of operations, will take over day-to-day matters while the board launches a search for a new president.
In the meantime, Dyke and trustee Donald N. Langenberg, a former chancellor of the University System of Maryland, will work with the administration on operational and academic issues.
Dyke said the mayor's office and the council have been asked to take part in the search for a new president -- along with faculty members and others at the university -- including helping UDC officials identify prospects.
"We think it's important that the council and mayor be part of this process so they have a vested interest," Dyke said.