University of the District of Columbia
Established1851 (1851)
TypePublic, land grant, HBCU
Endowment$21.8 million
PresidentAllen L. Sessoms[1]
ProvostDr. Ken Bain
LocationWashington, D.C.,
United States
ColorsRed and Gold
AthleticsNCAA Division II
Sportsbasketball, cross country, soccer, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, volleyball
AffiliationsMiddle States Association of Colleges and Schools

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is a historically black, public university located in the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C. UDC is one of the few urban land-grant universities in the country and a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. It is also the only public university in the District of Columbia.

History Edit

File:UDC Quad by Matthew Bisanz.jpg

UDC was created in 1977 from the merger of the District of Columbia Teachers College with Federal City College and the Washington Technical Institute.

Myrtilla Miner founded the Normal School for Colored Girls in 1851. In 1879, by then known as Miner Normal School, it joined the D.C. public education system. The Washington Normal School was established in 1873 for girls, and was renamed the Wilson Normal School in 1913.[2]

In 1929, the United States Congress made both schools four-year teachers' colleges and designated Miner Teachers College for African Americans and Wilson Teachers College for whites. In 1955, following Brown v. Board of Education, the two schools merged into the District of Columbia Teachers College.

Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon and Congressman Ancher Nelsen of Minnesota sponsored the District of Columbia Public Education Act, enacted on November 7, 1966 as (Public Law 89-791), which established two additional institutions. Federal City College was created as a four-year liberal arts college. It was originally planned to be a small, selective college of about 700 students. By the time the college opened in 1968, however, admission was open and applications had soared to 6000; students were placed by lottery.[3] The Washington Technical Institute was established as a technical school. Both institutions were also given land-grant status and awarded a $7.24 million endowment (USD), in lieu of a land grant.

The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MACS) granted educational accreditation to Washington Technical Institute in 1971 and to Federal City College in 1974.[4]

Efforts to unify the D.C. Teachers College, Federal City College, and Washington Technical Institute under a single administrative structure began in earnest after the passage of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act. A merger of the institutions was approved in 1975, and on August 1, 1977, the three institutions were formally consolidated as the University of the District of Columbia, with Lisle Carleton Carter, Jr. named its first president.

Beginning with the 2009-10 academic year, UDC's programs were split into two separate institutions under an umbrella "university system"-style setup. A new Community College of the District of Columbia (CCDC) assumed UDC's associate's degree, certificate, continuing education, and workforce development programs, while UDC continued with only its bachelor's and graduate degree programs. While CCDC will maintain an open enrollment policy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees admission into UDC.[5] These changes were in response to UDC's low graduation rate, where only 7.9% of students complete their degrees within six years.[6]

In late 2012, the university reported that its average expenses of "$35,152 [per full-time student] are 66 percent higher than expenses for comparable schools."[7] To cut costs, UDC plans to reduce the number of people it employs, move its community college, and eliminate several degree programs.[7] Two months after announcing the cost-cutting measures, the board of trustees fired university president Allen L. Sessoms.[8] One month after that, the university provided more details on its financial plans by announcing that they were eliminating nearly 100 jobs to save $8.5 million a year.[9]


UDC offers over 175 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The Division of Community Outreach and Extension Services (COES) offers a variety of practical, nonacademic educational programs and training. UDC spends $35,152 per full-time student.[10] The Fiscal Times reports UDC's graduation rate to be the second-worst in the United States, at 7.7%.[10]

UDC Guard ForceEdit

File:UDC Bulding 41 by Matthew Bisanz.jpg

UDC has its own guard force who are responsible for guarding and protecting university property, staff, faculty and students. The guard force works 24/7 and utilizes the catchphrase "We are here for you!" which is printed in the sides of all vehicles belonging to the guard force. The guard force are commissioned as District of Columbia Special Policemen and carry .38 revolvers, handcuffs and flashlights in order to accomplish their mission.

Schools and collegesEdit

International programsEdit

A 1996 academic partnership with the Modern Academy In Maadi, in Maadi, a southern suburb of Cairo, Egypt, encourages the material, physical, and intellectual growth of students, faculty, and staff of both institutions through Cairo-based UDC Bachelor degrees, Computer Science and Business Administration management programs. In July 2001, the partnership included Accounting and Finance options in Business, Computer Engineering and Information Technology and Electronic Engineering and Communication Technology and graduate studies in Business Administration (MBA).[11]

The UDC's adult education department had a collegial relationship with the University of Nairobi for several years, including faculty exchange and doctoral student sponsoring.


The main campus of UDC, known as the Van Ness campus, is located in the North Cleveland Park neighborhood at Connecticut Avenue and Van Ness St. in Northwest Washington, DC. It lends its name to the nearby Van Ness–UDC Metrorail station.

Primarily a commuter school, UDC opened its first residential accommodations or dormitories in August 2010 by leasing an apartment building across the street from its campus.[6] UDC plans to open a new residence hall on its main campus by 2012 that could house as many as 300 students.[6] Construction of a new $40 million student center also began in 2012.[6]

The Van Ness Campus opened in 1968 as the campus of the Washington Technical Institute, occupying buildings vacated by the National Bureau of Standards. Following the announcement of the UDC in 1975, work began on redeveloping the campus, with the construction of Buildings 32, 38, and 39 completed in 1976.[12] Seven additional buildings opened in 1981 at the conclusion of a second phase of construction. The DCTC facilities at the old Wilson Teachers College building at 11th and Harvard Streets, NW and at the Franklin School were retired.

Mt. Vernon Square was selected as the site for Federal City College in 1968, and in 1973 FCC took control of the Carnegie Library, closed in 1970 in anticipation of the D.C. Public Library's move to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Funding for the campus did not materialize until 1978, however.[12] Facing declining enrollment and lack of funding, operations at the downtown campus were wound down in the 1990s, and the facilities shuttered.[13] "UDC" was removed from the name of the nearby Mount Vernon Square Metro Station in 2001.


The University of the District of Columbia athletic teams are known as the UDC Firebirds. The university is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and competes at the Division II level as a member of the East Coast Conference (ECC). The university currently fields ten varsity sports, four men's sports: basketball, cross country, soccer, tennis; and six women's sports: basketball, cross country, tennis, indoor and outdoor track & field, and volleyball.[14] In 2012, the university announced plans for athletic expansion, with the addition of men's and women's lacrosse in 2014 and soon thereafter men's and women's swimming.[15]

Success Edit

The Firebirds have experienced recent success in men's and women's tennis winning the East Coast Conference team titles their first season as a part of the conference; with the women's tennis team making it all the way to the "Sweet Sixteen" in the NCAA Division II tournament.[citation needed] The Firebirds also excelled on the hardwood in 2011-12 where both men's and women's basketball teams made it to the East Regional Quarterfinals in the 2012 NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Tournament.[16]

Pastorally, the Firebirds have excelled at intercollegiate athletics highlighted most notably by the men's basketball team winning the 1982 NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Tournament, under the tutelage of Coach Will Jones.[17] The Firebirds attempted and fell just short of repeating as champions but had to settle for runner-up in 1983.

Administration Edit

Since December of 2008, the Athletic Department has been headed up by Patricia Thomas who is the university's first female African American to serve in this position. Thomas came to University of the District of Columbia with over 30 years of experience in intercollegiate athletics, including many years serving as a Senior Associate Athletic Director at Georgetown University where she also served on the NCAA Division I Management Council.[18]

The department also has five associate athletic directors, Joseph Lang (Compliance), Mike Riley (Internal Operations), Patrick Knapp (External Operations), Matthew Rienzo (Marketing & Communications), and Kendra Greene (Academics/ Senior Woman Administrator).[19]

Notable coaches Edit

Jeff Ruland (Iona College, 1991) has been the coach of the Firebirds men's basketball team since 2009. Ruland most notably is remembered for his years as a Center in the National Basketball Association (NBA) where he played for the Washington Bullets and was an All-Star Selection in the 1982-83 Season. Ruland came to The University of the District of Columbia from an assistant coaching position with the Philadelphia 76ers.[16]

Student activitiesEdit

Greek Letter organizationsEdit

National Pan-Hellenic CouncilEdit

All nine of the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations currently have chapters at the University of the District of Columbia.

Organization Symbol Chapter Chapter Symbol
Alpha Kappa Alpha ΑΚΑ Beta Lambda
Alpha Phi Alpha ΑΦΑ Omicron Omicron OO
Delta Sigma Theta ΔΣΘ Beta Iota BI
Iota Phi Theta ΙΦΘ Theta Θ
Kappa Alpha Psi ΚΑΨ Beta Kappa BK
Omega Psi Phi ΩΨΦ Omicron Gamma
Phi Beta Sigma ΦΒΣ Gamma Lambda ΓΛ
Sigma Gamma Rho ΣΓΡ Beta B
Zeta Phi Beta ΖΦΒ Kappa Alpha KA

Non-NPHC organizationsEdit

Organization Symbol Chapter Chapter Symbol
Delta Mu Delta Honor Society ΔΜΔ Epsilon Sigma ΕΣ
Omicron Delta Epsilon Honor Society ΟΔΕ Epsilon Ε
Pi Sigma Alpha ΠΣΑ Chi Rho ΧΡ
Psi Chi ΨΧ 0904

Student mediaEdit

UDC publishes The Trilogy, a student-paper highlighting campus events and national and local news. The Flightpath yearbook focuses on graduating students and the years' activities.


UDC Cable Television, Channel 19, is the District Government's non-commercial, adult education program service.

UDC Cable TV 98 supports teaching, research and public service with Educational-access television and instructional programming. Cable TV 98 operates an audio and video recording service center, electronic field and studio production and a video training center for Public-access television production.[20]

Notable alumniEdit

Name Class year Notability References
Denis G. Antoine Ambassador of Grenada to the US and representative to the Organization of American States [21]
Thelma Thompson President of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore [21]
Richard Pennington 1988 Chief of Police Atlanta, Georgia [21]
Norma Holloway Johnson 1955 Former United States federal judge who ruled on Kenneth Starr's probe of the Clinton administration.
Lennox Yearwood 1998 President of the Hip Hop Caucus
Kali Troy Voice over actress
Aldon Lynn Nielsen Poet
Cathy L. Lanier Chief of Police with the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
Branislav Andjelić 1991 Serbian Internet pioneer, economist and politician
Lyn McLain Cofounder of the DC Youth Orchestra Program
Carolyn Harris 1969 Library conservationist
Rasheim Wright Jordanian basketball player.

See alsoEdit


  1. "U.D.C. President". University of the District of Columbia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
  2. "University of the District of Columbia, African-American Heritage Trail", Cultural Tourism D.C.,, retrieved 2012-11-21
  3. [citation needed]
  4. "UDC's History",,, retrieved 2012-11-21
  5. "About CCDC". UDC. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Johnson, Jenna (August 30, 2010). "The right spot for a UDC student to live". Washington Post: p. B1.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Nick Anderson and Nikita Stewart (October 3, 2012). "UDC plans cuts, including degree programs, to solve budget problems". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
  8. Nick Anderson (December 19, 2012). "UDC board votes to fire President Sessoms". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
  9. Nick Anderson (January 25, 2013). "UDC cuts nearly 100 positions". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Gartner, Lisa (November 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm). "UDC requests $4 million to lay off employees". The Examiner Newspaper.,%202012)%20-%2011/23/2012&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Washington%20Examiner:%20E-dition. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  11. "U.D.C. Programs". University of the District of Columbia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
  12. 12.0 12.1 [citation needed]
  13. [citation needed]
  14. "University of the District of Columbia". NCAA. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  15. "University of the District of Columbia Announces the Addition of Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Programs for Competition in Spring of 2014". The University of the District of Columbia. September 25, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Salmon, Barrington M. (March 08, 2012). "Ruland Presides over Men's Basketball Renaissance". The Washington Informen. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  17. "Washington DC’s Super 30: The Best DC metro basketball players of all time". DC Metro Sports. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  18. "Patricia Thomas Biography". The University of the District of Columbia. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  19. "Athletics Staff Directory". The University of the District of Columbia. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  20. "U.D.C. Cable T.V. Channel 8". University of the District of Columbia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 "U.D.C. Success Stories". The Welcome Center. University of the District of Columbia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-16.

External linksEdit

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