The D.C. Council passed an emergency bill yesterday to permit the board of trustees of the University of the District of Columbia to conduct business with fewer members. It also criticized Mayor Anthony A. Williams for delays in filling vacancies on the barely functioning governing body of the city's only public college.
Williams (D) forwarded the names of four UDC board nominees to the council late Monday, not soon enough for some council members. The emergency bill also gives the council authority to appoint members to the board if the mayor does not fill vacancies within 180 days and extends by 30 days the terms of four members whose appointments expired last week.
The UDC board is supposed to have 15 trustees but has been operating for many months with 11. On Friday, the board shrank to seven members when the terms of four trustees expired. The terms of three alumni representatives also expired, but they are being replaced in a special alumni election.
The council's action permits the board, which normally needs a quorum of eight, to establish a quorum with a majority of the voting members.
Council member David Catania (R-At Large), who pushed the emergency measure, said the board has had to cancel at least a third of its meetings in the last three years because it could not attain a quorum.
"If the council had not acted today on an emergency basis, the University of the District of Columbia would not have a governing body," he said. "This emergency was of the mayor's making."
Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) and member Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7) co-authored the bill with Catania, who also introduced permanent legislation to shrink the UDC board from 15 members to nine.
"If the mayor cannot dedicate his time and resources to find qualified candidates, then the council will," said Chavous, who is chairman of the council's education committee.
Peggy Armstrong, the mayor's spokeswoman, said Williams "appreciated the extension for the current board members" but would have no comment on the bill's other provisions, because he "has not seen the specifics of the legislation."
The four nominees Williams forwarded to the Chavous committee for confirmation are philanthropist Peggy Cooper-Cafritz, founder of Duke Ellington School of the Arts; George Willie, managing partner of Bert Smith & Co. and an officer of the National Association of Black Accountants; Fernando Barrueta, senior vice president of Transwestern Commercial Services LLC; and Peter Rosenstein, executive director of the National Association for Gifted Children.
Staff writer Valerie Strauss contributed to this report.