Weigh Allen Sessoms's travel bills against what he has done for UDC

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011; 8:36 PM

Before we throw University of the District of Columbia President Allen Sessoms under the bus (or luxury SUV, as the case may be) for his pricey travel [Metro, March 2 and 8], we should remember the challenges that Mr. Sessoms inherited when he took the helm in 2008. Despite the heroic efforts of many faculty members, the university suffered terribly from poor leadership, political interference and a lack of resources. UDC's six-year graduation rate was an abysmal 17 percent, its campus was crumbling and the institution had a reputation for being, as Kevin Carey of Education Sector put it, "inefficient, ineffective, wasteful, patronage-driven, possibly corrupt."

Mr. Sessoms has helped put UDC on an upward trajectory. To honor UDC's commitment to open admissions, he established the Community College of D.C., now in its second year with enrollment soaring. He instituted admission standards for the flagship campus, created an honors program and launched a comprehensive review to revitalize the curriculum.

To meet the city's changing needs, he established the graduate-level National Center for Urban Education and the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences. The pace of change has been breathtaking.

Mr. Sessoms is far from perfect, but he is delivering much-needed change. It would be a shame if we were so distracted by "bling" that we missed the progress he has made.

Chris Myers Asch, Washington

The writer is coordinator for the National Center for Urban Education at UDC.

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