Lisle C. Carter Jr., HEW Official, First UDC President, Dies

Lisle C. Carter Jr., shown in 1979, led the University of the District of Columbia in its first five years.
Lisle C. Carter Jr., shown in 1979, led the University of the District of Columbia in its first five years. (By Craig Herndon -- The Washington Post)
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By Lauren Wiseman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lisle C. Carter Jr., 83, a prominent administrator who worked for civic organizations, educational institutions and the federal government before serving as the first president of the University of the District of Columbia, died Sept. 10 at Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton of complications from pneumonia. He had been a resident of Flint Hill, Va., since the early 1990s.

Mr. Carter was legal counsel to the National Urban League early in his career and became one of the highest-ranking African Americans at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare before leaving in 1968.

He then was a professor of public policy and vice president at Cornell University and spent three years as chancellor of the Atlanta University Center, a consortium of mostly black colleges, before being named to lead UDC in 1977.

UDC was formed when the District's three open-admissions public colleges -- Federal City College, the Washington Technical Institute and D.C. Teachers College -- were merged. During Mr. Carter's five-year tenure, the university received accreditation as a single institution, opened a new library and began to manage budgets and procurements independent of the D.C. Council.

"With students registering without a hitch in a new gymnasium and thronging the plaza between classes, and with the libraries jammed and lines in the bookstore, the university became a visible, believable entity," he wrote in The Washington Post in 1982.

After leaving UDC, Mr. Carter returned to practice law as a partner with Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand in Washington. He retired in the early 1990s as general counsel of the United Way.

Lisle Carleton Carter Jr. was born in New York on Nov. 18, 1925, and spent much of his childhood in Barbados. His father was a dentist and his mother was a lawyer. He graduated in 1945 from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, then served in the Army before receiving a law degree in 1950 from St. John's University in New York.

He was executive director of the Washington Urban League in the mid-1950s. He worked for the National Urban League in New York before entering government in 1961 as a deputy assistant secretary at HEW. He became an assistant director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, which administered anti-poverty programs, and in 1966 rose to assistant secretary of HEW, where he oversaw a variety of welfare programs and coordinated the department's efforts in the Model Cities urban renewal program.

He was a past board chairman of the Children's Defense Fund, a nonprofit child advocacy organization, and served on the board of the Kettering Foundation, a science, education and international and urban affairs research foundation. He was a trustee for Georgetown University, Dartmouth College, the Pension Rights Center and the Aspen Institute.

His first wife, Emily Ellis Carter, died in 1989.

Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Jane Livingston of Flint Hill; five children from his first marriage, Eric Carter and John Carter, both of Atlanta, author and Yale University law professor Stephen L. Carter of Cheshire, Conn., Leslie Carter-Benjamin of Forestville and Lisa Carter of Newport News, Va.; 13 grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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