By Susan Kinzie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
University of the District of Columbia leaders approved major changes to the school's academic structure yesterday, creating a community college campus for two-year students and raising admission standards and tuition for students working toward a four-year degree.
The two-year program will be open to everyone and oriented toward workforce training. The four-year program will have a more traditional, academically oriented campus.
The university has long struggled with funding, leadership and enrollment problems. In fall 2008, a new president, Allen L. Sessoms, stepped in and promised a complete overhaul.
Although some people on the UDC campus and in city leadership have voiced concern about the pace of change, trustees Chairman James Dyke said, "It's a historic day for UDC, to create this university system with a flagship institution and a community college."
UDC hopes to have the changes in place for the fall semester.
The board of trustees also voted yesterday to offer severance packages to longtime faculty members.
Professors who have been at the school for 30 years or more could accept a one-time payment if they agreed to resign before the end of this academic year. They would be given $45,000 or half of their salary, whichever is less.
The board will consider tuition levels at a meeting next month. The price could drop slightly for those earning associate's degrees -- about half of all students -- from $3,700 to about $3,000 a year, Dyke said. And it could increase for those studying in the four-year program, to about $7,000 for District residents, $8,000 for metro-area residents and $14,000 for out-of-state students.
The school does not yet have a site for a community college, but sources said that UDC is hoping to merge with Southeastern University, a private college in the District.