The University of the District of Columbia is a symbol of renewed hope to the poor and desperate residents of the nation's capital, Ford Foundation vice president Harold Howe II told an audience yesterday at the installation of Lisle C. Carter Jr. as the new university's first president.
"(UCD) powerfully strengthens education in our nation's capital by adding to its diversity." said Howe the Keynote speaker at the ceremonies held at the Kennedy Center. "It reaches out to the poor and the discriminated against and offers them opportunity; and it provides for our capital city renewed hope . . ."
Howe's speech was interrupted by a bomb threat telephoned to the Kennedy Center. UDC board chairman Ronald Brown announced to the 1,500 persons asembled for the ceremonies that an "emergency situation" had occurred and asked them to evacuate the building.
U.S. Park Police later said that a woman had called the Kennedy Center to say that a bomb was set to go off in the concert hall, where the UDC inauguration was in progress. After searching the theater, for one hour and finding nothing, police told the audience to return to the concert hall and the program continued.
Carter, in brief remarks, said that the university under his leadership will try to help elevate the standard of living for D.C. residents by focusing on their basic needs and concerns.
"We are concerned," Carter said, "for those who cannot keep or find decent housing for those who cannot find a job that pays a decent living (wage), for those who cannot afford a decent meal, much less afford or enjoy the cultural amenities of the city.
"The university belongs to all the people of the District of Columbia," he added, "but our priority must be with those who need us most."
Carter said UDC must be a "strong teaching institution." But at the same time, he said the school must maintain commitment to research, scholarship, creative work and technological advances to vitalize its teaching programs.
"We are fortunate to have colleges that specialize in serving Americans who don't speak and write English well and who are admitted with backgrounds of limited schooling," Howe said in his speech.
"We are fortunate also, he added," to have institutions with high expectations of academic performance at admission and with the capacity to carry some students to the summits of scholarly endeavour."
Howe said that as an increasing number of people are able to obtain higher education, the status of advanced learning has declined.
"When most people have diamonds, diamonds aren't as valuable," he said. "Anyone with common sense knows that a young black without a high school diploma has almost no chance on today's job market and knows also that a person with advanced training has a much better chance . . . of finding interesting, rewarding work."
Yesterday's inaugural activities climaxed a full week of events designed to introduce the newly formed University of the District of Columbia and its services to the Washington community through a series of symposiums, receptions and exhibits.
The university, the nation's only fully urban landgrant college, was created through a merger last year of three institutions: the Washington Technical Institute, Federal City College, and the D.C. Teachers College.