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The UDCFA Response to Vision 2020

November 8, 2013

Dr. Elaine Crider, Chair

University of District of Columbia Board of Trustees

4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20008

RE: Solicitation of Comments for Draft Vision 2020: A Roadmap for Renewal, Innovation, Success and Sustainability

Dear Dr. Crider,

            The University of District of Columbia Faculty Association is duty bound to respond to the above referenced request for comments in connection with the proposed Vision 2020 Plan (the “Plan”). The UDC Plan, as currently articulated, raises serious concerns. The UDC Faculty Association is committed to the goals of elevating the quality of UDC courses, increasing access to quality public education, and controlling costs.  We support the Plan’s objectives of increasing the number of enrolled students and becoming “the premiere institution of higher education that the residents of the District of Columbia deserve.”  However, equal access and educational choice should not be sacrificed to achieve such objectives. 

            UDC is the only public higher education option for many D.C. residents. The Plan does not propose any new substantive academic programs, does not address reallocation or increases in budgetary support or provide any alternatives to students whose programs are slated for elimination. The Trustees are charged with establishing and ensuring accreditation of the components of the University System, which at a minimum must include a liberal arts component, a vocational and technical component, and a school of law that is funded by the city. The Plan eliminates liberal arts programs, perpetuates disparities in higher education, continues to starve UDC of funds to carry out its mission, and hampers the University’s ability to offer quality and affordable liberal arts education.

Access for All

Public higher education in the District of Columbia should be high-quality, and it should be affordable and accessible. However, the proposed plan eliminates programs of proven excellence, perpetuates the university's outsized, administrative bloat, and shuts the door on degree programs that lead to much-needed jobs. A new plan, collaboratively developed by students, community members, faculty, and alumni, must be written.

Shared Governance

Neither students, faculty, community members nor alumni helped write this Plan. The Faculty Senate received it in late September 2013, and was asked to provide formal comments within six days. Equally important, this strategic work should be student-centered and faculty-led, not dictated by administration. The UDC Faculty Association calls for a plan that is inclusive and collaborative.

Pitfalls of the Vision 2020 Plan

Administrative costs are spiraling out of control. Instead of cutting academic and athletic programs that directly benefit students, UDC cannot move forward without addressing the executive and managerial hierarchical structure where 67 cents of every tuition dollar are spent on administration and not on classroom instruction.  For example, why are cuts it falling on programs like the degree-granting program in special education? This degree leads to important, fulfilling jobs, and has generated funding from the Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs. The U.S. Department of Labor projects the need for special educators will grow by 17 percent over the next decade. Additionally, why cut physics or economics? It is a cornerstone for much-needed Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) business careers. The Plan does not consider the long-term needs of students or the recommendations of the Faculty Senate.

            We would like to highlight the recent court ruling, The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, et al. v. Maryland Higher Education Commission, et al., which addresses our point on equitable access for all through funding and academic program offerings. We believe wholesale eliminations of programs and services without input from students and faculty run counter to and violate the spirit of UDC’s mission.

            Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the above referenced solicitation. Please do not hesitate to contact me by telephone at (202) 274-7108 or by email at UDCFANEA@udc.edu if you have any questions or comments or if you require any clarification on the comments.

Sincerely,

Wilmer L Johnson

Wilmer L. Johnson, President

University of District of Columbia Faculty Association/NEA

CC: UDC Board of Trustees

        District of Columbia City Council

        Mayor Vincent Gray

        Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

 

 

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