University of the District of Columbia

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is a public historically black university in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1851 and is the only public university in the city. UDC is one of the few urban land-grant universities in the country and a member school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The full university system offers workforce and certificate programs in addition to Associate, Baccalaureate, Master's, professional, and Doctoral degrees. The university's academic schools and programs include the University of the District of Columbia - Community College, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, School of Business and Public Administration, Colleges of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability & Environmental Sciences, and School of Law.

University of the District of Columbia
MottoAspire, Accomplish, Take on the World
Land grant
Established1851 (1851)
Endowment$21.8 million
PresidentRonald Mason Jr., J.D.[1]
ProvostDr. Lawrence T. Potter, Jr.
Administrative staff
3,747 (Fall 2018)
Undergraduates3,867 (Fall 2018)
Postgraduates633 (Fall 2018)
United States
ColorsRed and Gold
AthleticsNCAA Division IIECC
Sportsbasketball, cross country, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, indoor and outdoor track and field, volleyball
MascotFelix the Firebird


The University of the District of Columbia was established in 1851 as the Normal School for Colored Girls. Myrtilla Miner founded the Normal School for Colored Girls against considerable racist opposition. The school grew through mergers and consolidation into the only public university in Washington, D.C.

By 1879, the Normal School for Colored Girls was then known as Miner Normal School. It joined the D.C. public education system. A separate institution, 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.

U.S. Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon and Representative 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. The Council of the District of Columbia later passed legislation merging the District of Columbia School of Law with the University of the District of Columbia in 1996.

Beginning with the 20092010 academic year, UDC's programs were split into two separate institutions under an umbrella "university system"-style setup. A new Community College assumed UDC's associate's degree, certificate, continuing education, and workforce development programs, while the UDC Flagship campus continued with its bachelor's and graduate degree programs. While UDC-CC will maintain an open enrollment policy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees admission into UDC.[5]

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."[6] To cut costs, UDC underwent a reorganization and plans to eliminate several degree programs.[6]

In 2012 and 2013, the University eliminated 97 full-time equivalent positions including abolished positions, executive appointments, and vacant funded positions. In late December 2012, the Board of Trustees approved a change in the University's executive administration and appointed Dr. Rachel Petty to serve as interim COO. During the spring of 2013 James E. Lyons Sr. was hired as an interim President to lead the institution forward.

UDC Police Department

The UDC Police Department (UDCPD) is an operating element within the Office of Public Safety & Emergency Management (OPSEM). The UDCPD is tasked with providing full service policing for all UDC assets and stakeholders in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year. The department consists of commissioned Police Officers and non-sworn support staff. UDCPD officers have full authority to investigate crimes, respond to calls for service and effect arrests on any UDC property. OPSEM and the UDCPD are under the command of Marieo Foster who serves as the Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety.[7]


UDC offers 68 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.[8] IPEDs reports UDC's full-time student graduation to be 15%; although UDC graduates more District resident students than any college or university in the District of Columbia. The majority of students attending the University of the District of Columbia are non-traditional adult part-time students.

Schools and colleges

International programs

A 1996 academic partnership with the Modern Academy In Maadi (located 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's 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).[9]

The Maadi branch campus partnership ended in June 2014. All matriculating students will participate in a teach-out process. No degrees will be conferred after May 2016 to any currently enrolled students.

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 in the North Cleveland Park neighborhood at Connecticut Avenue and Van Ness Street in Northwest Washington, D.C.. 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.[10] UDC plans to open a new residence hall on its main campus by 2012 that could house as many as 300 students.[10] Construction of a new $40 million student center also began in 2012.[10]

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.[11] 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.[11] Facing declining enrollment and lack of funding, operations at the downtown campus were wound down in the 1990s, and the facilities shuttered.[12] "UDC" was removed from the name of the nearby Mount Vernon Square Metro Station in 2001.

In January 2019, UDC leased property near its Van Ness campus as part of its project to improve its infrastructure.[13]


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, five men's sports: basketball, cross country, soccer, tennis, lacrosse; 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]

Student activities

Greek Letter organizations

National Pan-Hellenic Council

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 ΒΛ
Alpha Phi Alpha ΑΦΑ Omicron Omicron ΟΟ
Delta Sigma Theta ΔΣΘ Beta Iota ΒΙ
Iota Phi Theta ΙΦΘ Theta Θ
Kappa Alpha Psi ΚΑΨ Beta Kappa ΒΚ
Omega Psi Phi ΩΨΦ Omicron Gamma ΟΓ
Phi Beta Sigma ΦΒΣ Gamma Lambda ΓΛ
Sigma Gamma Rho ΣΓΡ Beta Β
Zeta Phi Beta ΖΦΒ Kappa Alpha ΚΑ

Non-NPHC organizations

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 media

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.[16]

Notable alumni

See also


  1. Clabaugh, Clay (2008). "UDC names new president". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  2. "University of the District of Columbia, African-American Heritage Trail", Cultural Tourism D.C., archived from the original on 2013-04-14, retrieved 2012-11-21
  3. Roberts, Wallace (Nov–Dec 1969), "Federal City: Prospects for the Common College", Change in Higher Education, 1 (6), pp. 44–47, 50–52, JSTOR 40160965
  4. "UDC's History",, archived from the original on 2012-10-12, retrieved 2012-11-21
  5. "About CCDC". UDC. Archived from the original on 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
  6. 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.
  7. "Chief of Police/Director of Public Safety". University of the District of Columbia (UDC). 2015-09-05. Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
  8. Gartner, Lisa (November 22, 2012). "UDC requests $4 million to lay off employees". The Examiner Newspaper. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  9. "U.D.C. Programs". University of the District of Columbia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
  10. Johnson, Jenna (August 30, 2010). "The right spot for a UDC student to live". Washington Post. p. B1.
  11. "Chronology of the University of the District of Columbia and Its Predecessor Institutions, 1951–2009", UDC Digital Archives Collection, retrieved 2012-11-27
  12. "University of the District of Columbia -- Mt. Vernon Campus, 1985", UDC Digital Archives Collection, retrieved 2012-11-27
  13. "UDC Expands Presence on Connecticut Avenue". The Washington Informer. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  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. "U.D.C. Cable T.V. Channel 8". University of the District of Columbia. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-15.

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