Benjamin H. Alexander, president of the University of the District of Columbia, has proposed a reorganization plan for the school that he says would sharply curtail the number of students who now receive special tutorial and counseling services.
Alexander said yesterday he wants to dismantle the program, called the university college, established four years ago as a central point to provide tutoring, counseling and remedial help for entering students. He plans to reassign its staff to individual departments.
Alexander, who released his reorganization plan at a UDC board of trustees meeting Tuesday night, said he believes it is no longer necessary for all incoming students to receive the services of the university college.
UDC board of trustees Chairman Marjorie H. Parker called Alexander's proposal "a rather sweeping recommendation" that may prove to be at odds with the university's "philosophy and mission" to serve the needs of all students, regardless of their level of basic skills.
Parker said Alexander's proposal will need "a good deal more study" before the trustees can make a decision. She said a board subcommittee, headed by UDC trustee Vincent E. Reed, has been formed to study the Alexander proposal.
Reed, formerly superintendent of the D.C. public schools and now Washington Post vice president for communications, said that Alexander "had better be damn clear about what he's going to do to see that these services of reinforcement are still rendered" if the university college program is dismantled.
Reed said Alexander's proposal will force the trustees to make a decision about the future mission of UDC: "Is this going to be a university to educate the masses, or is it going to be an elitist university that says either you make it or you don't?"
The university college was created in response to UDC's open admissions policy. It was intended to insure that students who enter with poor basic skills--as many UDC students do--are working at an acceptable level before they begin study in their majors.
All students who enter UDC are placed in the university college, where they receive tutorial, testing and counseling services, and must complete required courses before moving on to their major fields of study in one of the university's five departments. Some university college students are also required to take remedial mathematics, reading or English courses.
Currently 9,500 of UDC's 14,000 students are enrolled in the university college. Alexander said yesterday he expects the number receiving special tutoring or counseling to be reduced by half under his plan, but said the "truly needy" will still receive help.
Parker and four of the board's 15 trustees have so far voiced concern over the proposal, noting that the university recently placed 3,047 students on academic probation and suspended another 867 because of poor grades.
"It is not our purpose to abolish the services that the university college now provides," Alexander said. "It is our intention to move those services so that they can be performed with more efficiency."
Under his plan, more of the burden of tutoring and counseling would fall on professors in the individual departments.
Ewaugh Field, dean of the university college, said her program provides students with a series of services "in a systematic fashion," beginning with freshman orientation and ending when the student has successfully completed required courses.
She said she fears those services would become "fragmented" under the Alexander plan.
Wilmer Johnson, president of UDC's faculty senate, complained that the faculty had not been consulted about Alexander's proposal and said the university college program has helped move the university forward, adding that Alexander should "assess what has been achieved."