The governing body of the University of the District of Columbia voted 9 to 3 last night to purchase a newly built $330,000 house in the Chevy Chase section of the city as the official residence of its president.
At a special meeting of the board of trustees, three board members who questioned the cost, location, maintenance expenses and other features of the facility were overruled by nine other members who voted approval.
"I just cannot reconcile this for a president who is going to come to a university whose mission is to serve those students who would not otherwise be able to get an education," argued board member Estelle W. Taylor. "If we bring him here and house him in a . . . mansion, already he has lifted himself away from his constituents."
N. Joyce Payne also dissented, and student member Robert McNeil agreed with Taylor that the residence should be located "in the inner city where most of our students live."
Taylor termed "odious" board member Daniel I. Fivel's comparisons of UDC to George Washington University and Columbia University, which he said have made "judicious investments" in real estate to their advantage.
Board chairman Marjorie H. Parker said she regretted that the university had not purchased a house for its president earlier, and that she was assured by a search committee that buying the residence selected was more prudent than seeking an older facility.
In approving the purchase, UDC joins all but one of the universities in the Washington region in providing substantial housing for their chief executives. The exception is Georgetown University, whose president, the Rev. Timothy S. Healy, occupies two rooms in a Jesuit community near the campus.
At its September meeting, the UDC board of trustees approved the proposal to seek an official residence for the university's future presidents. The action was described as part of a package of salary and perquisites designed to attract an outstanding new president.
The current president -- the only one in UDC's history -- is Lisle C. Carter Jr. He is leaving next June after five years as president. He is paid a $12,000 annual housing allowance in addition to his regular salary of about $59,000. He lives in a town house off 16th Street NW.
UDC, formed in 1977 from a merger of the former Federal City College, D.C. Teachers' College and Washington Technical Institute, never has had an official home for its president.
Among area schools, Catholic University, the University of Maryland, the University of Virginia and Virginia's George Mason University near Fairfax City all provide presidential dwellings located on their campuses. Gallaudet College, an institution for the deaf in Northeast Washington, has on-campus homes for both its president and vice president.
American University's president lives in a university-owned home adjacent to the campus in Northwest Washington. Howard University provides its president with a home on upper 16th Street near the Montgomery County line. And George Washington University's president lives in a school-owned home in the fashionable Kalorama area.
Father Healy's spare quarters in a religious community contrast sharply with the treatment Georgetown gives its popular and successful basketball coach, John Thompson.
Last year a group described by GU as a "small group of alumni and friends" bought Thompson a $350,000 home at 4881 Colorado Ave. NW. Under National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, Thompson must pay rent on the quarters -- but he has declined to say how much.