From a report by UDC President Robert L. Green on the expenditures of his office, submitted to the board of trustees on July 29:
I have searched my recollections in microscopic detail, attempting to reconstruct now the rationale that motivated me some months ago to pursue certain paths of action that have since provoked questioning.
In retrospect, I know now that I might have benefited greatly from a more extensive orientation regarding the financial and management procedures of the university and the D.C. government. In the absence of that orientation, I made good decisions but also some mistakes were made. I was impatient to get started; to move the university forward; to provide positive and productive leadership for an institution that had suffered some drift owing to numerous and sudden administrative changes; to earn for the university a deserved reputation for academic excellence.
After 23 years of life devoted exclusively to classroom teaching and higher education administration, I assumed that certain things in the academic world were standard. I assumed that differences I might encounter at the University of the District of Columbia would be subtle, not profound and fundamental departures from tradition.
Thus, I pulled heavily from my understandings of higher education in the traditional setting in which I had flourished for years. I assumed an operating style here that was similar to one that had been accepted elsewhere without question. I fully understood how university administrative leadership functioned in traditional settings and had no reason to doubt the propriety of that style for application at UDC. Clearly, I should have petitioned early on for an in-depth orientation to UDC and to the workings of the District of olumbia government that would have better informed my sense of direction. . . .
Almost as soon as I walked into my office at Van Ness, I began feeling divergent forces tugging and pulling upon my attention. I began witnessing a competition for influence and dominance. I heard the legitimate claims of several factions that still had not resolved in their minds the issues related to university mission, goals and objectives. . . .
Time was required to bring people and ideas together around what should be a common sense of mission. But I know, also, that I felt the need to move quickly to set in motion a series of activities that would signal to all observers the vision I had for the university and the direction which I intended to recommend for it. To do that, I needed independent, objective advice from sources of impeccable scholarship and integrity; sources with a depth and breadth of administrative experience in the academic realm.
I took the path that is most common in higher education, particularly for chief administrative officers who are new to an institution. I immediately identified areas of need and engaged talented individuals to absorb massive doses of information quickly and report their findings to me.
I could have chosen personnel from the dozens of higher education associations in Washington. But I was anxious to avoid the possibility of bias that might lean toward the traditional and the elite. I might have chosen personnel from the university staff itself. But, frankly, I was unable to determine immediately who was widely perceived to be unbiased and who could bring to the tasks an objective point of view uncolored by past struggles.
I might have chosen personnel from among faculty or administration at almost any other higher education institution in the nation. . . .
(But in) the interest of speed, I turned to people I knew; people whose quality of work I was thoroughly familiar with; people who had come to know through past association the demands I make for quality and excellence. Some of these individuals were my associates at Michigan State University. All brought to their tasks credentials of the highest order and solid reputations in scholarship and administration. Each left behind products and, more importantly, valuable advice -- written and oral -- which helped me immensely as I went about the task of conceptualizing programs and reorganizing staff at UDC, all actions which the board of trustees had previously approved.
Without those consultants and their advice, the Center for Applied Research and Urban Policy, which has already attracted more than $41 million in grant funds, still might have been a dream and not the effective reality that it is. Without the work and advice of the consultants, the university might have taken a lot longer to reach the goal of streamlined and effective financial management and reporting systems that are now in place.
The consultants helped me to focus on the need to reduce the number of units reporting directly to the president from 13 to the few that now have direct access. The advice I received from the external consultants was valuable to me in other ways. Much of it helped enormously in prodding me to release all notions of traditional higher education procedure. The purging of my own mind left me free to embrace the requirements that come with being chief administrator of a non- traditional institution which serves a non-traditional student population.
I valued the consultants so highly that I was actively seeking at the same time to recruit a majority of them to join me in pursuing the mission of this developing university. Dr. Cassandra Simmons, Dr. David Gottlieb, Dr. Gilbert Maddox, Dr. Joseph Darden, Dr. Maxie Jackson, Mr. Louis Stone, and Mrs. Gloria Simmons were all on my list of former associates whom I wished to bring to UDC. I won a few. I lost a few. . . .
My attempts to get them did not begin or end at the city limits of the District of Columbia. Occasionally, I purposely traveled to where they lived to reinforce in their minds the seriousness of my pursuit and the seriousness of my need for their services. As I said, I won a few and I lost a few. But I tried hard on every occasion -- for UDC.
I wish to make very clear my perception of the leadership role every university president must assume. Probably no group of executives in America travels more extensively than university presidents. University presidents typically travel for purposes of fund-raising, university representation, speechmaking, attendance at professional development conferences, and the enhancement of public perception of the institutions they lead.
It was no different for the president of UDC. In addition, I had the added burden of actually introducing an eight-year-old university to peers who knew of it only vaguely. Moreover, there was a need to search out opportunities for UDC to coalesce with established institutions and programs. Such associations, it seemed to me, could only help to establish UDC's reputation as an institution on the move in the world of higher education.
Most of you know of my commitment to the human rights struggles of oppressed peoples all over the world. You know of my determination to apply scholarship to the solutions of problems that continue to elude the grasp of those responsible for shaping public policy. You are aware of my wish to mold UDC into a national force for good; to position it in the market place for funds and other resources with all the other land grant institutions of America.
It is within that context that I modestly assert that I do not find that my travels have been excessive during my first two years at UDC. It was important to travel during the transition; it will be even more important to travel to continue raising funds to supplement the $405,000 in scholarship money raised since my arrival at UDC. It is my hope to selectively and prudently travel more so that UDC will be mentioned in the same breath with the other land grant universities across the land. . . .
Parts of my travels related to transition activities -- moving from Michigan to Washington within a time frame that would satisfy the needs of my new employers in the District of Columbia. It must be clearly understood that my contract with the board of trustees stipulates that because I was to assume immediate leadership at UDC, I was to be provided ample time and travel funds for concluding my personal and professional affairs at Michigan State University and East Lansing. . . .
I am rapidly learning that there is more to the job of president than substantive efforts to provide needed resources for the institution. There is also the very valid matter of being sensitive to perceptions: what people feel and believe, and how they will react to certain events and approaches.
I concede that I can do much better at recognizing the presence of perceptions -- wherever and whatever they are -- at taking the pulse of the university's constituencies in advance, and at adjusting my approach to issues and opportunities, as necessary, to bring perceptions of the public more in line with the reality of our challenge at the university. . .