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  •   Barry Shows Interest in Teaching Job

    Marion Barry
    Mayor Marion Barry (File photo)
    By Valerie Strauss
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, April 17, 1998; Page B01

    Mayor Marion Barry has privately expressed interest in a plan to offer him a professorship at local universities should he decide not to seek a fifth term in office this year, but unless he strikes a deal quickly, the opportunity may evaporate, according to knowledgeable university sources.

    With commencements and other year-end activities about to begin on college campuses, details of a plan have to be worked out quickly so university presidents have time to confer with their governing boards about the arrangement.

    "We can't have a cup of coffee one morning and say that's that," said one college president, who asked not to be identified.

    The proposal to offer the 62-year-old Barry a professorship to teach politics to area university students arose more than a month ago when a Barry friend called George Washington University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and asked whether universities might be interested in a faculty appointment for the mayor. Trachtenberg said he hasn't heard back from the man, whom he would not identify.

    School sources who have spoken to the mayor or to some of his closest associates said Barry has privately expressed interest in the idea. What worries some of the university presidents is that Barry will wait too long to agree for a deal to be consummated, the school sources said.

    One university president who had been optimistic earlier about consummation of the deal said he was beginning to have doubts, in large part because the plan had become public.

    "I think this is one of those cases where it got out before it was cooked, and it suffered from an excess of sunlight," said the president, who asked not to be identified.

    According to the sources, one emerging version of the proposal envisions Barry having an office at the University of the District of Columbia, the District's only public institution of higher learning, where his wife, Cora, used to teach and which Barry has long championed.

    The professorship would be funded by private supporters and friends of Barry's, some of whom are waiting to see if he expresses a serious commitment to do this, the sources said. Some members of the Greater Washington Board of Trade have responded favorably to the concept but have not yet put up any money, university and D.C. government sources said.

    According to the school sources, the presidents of George Washington University, Howard University, Georgetown University, UDC and Southeastern University are considering hiring Barry jointly. The presidents of other D.C. schools, including American University, Trinity College and Catholic University, have expressed opposition, in part objecting to what they view as a perceived intrusion into the electoral process.

    No single school would act unilaterally, the sources said, in part because they expect some negative public reaction to the deal because of Barry's drug conviction and his sometimes controversial lifestyle.

    Publicly Barry has said he has not decided whether to seek a fifth term in office – he has been mayor for 16 of the last 20 years.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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