Office of the President

Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Location: Building 39, Room 301A
Phone: phone 202.274.6016
Evola Bates, Chief of Staff,
Mary C. Wright, Administrative Officer,
Angela Scott, Executive Assistant to the President,

Be a Part of the Vision

President Allen Sessoms held several student forums over the past few weeks to communicate his vision for the University of the District of Columbia.

The presentation can be viewed by clicking on the (PDF) Student Forum Presentation link.

Students were encouraged to submit questions that the University administration made a commitment to answer. The submitted questions are compiled below, entitled Frequently Asked Questions. While every question has not been answered here, the University is committed to having answers to all questions listed. As the questions are answered, the answers will be posted with the respective question.

Furthermore, in response to the February 11, 2009 Board of Trustees Joint Committee meeting, the University has established an email address where inquiries regarding the proposed tuition increase and the new vision for UDC can be directed to — All questions will be answered by the appropriate University official within a timely fashion. The University welcomes your constructive comments and suggestions.

Frequently Asked Questions

UDC Mission and Land Grant Questions

Q: I would like to know if UDC would lose its HBCU status with the current plan that is being put in place.  If so, why would we want to see that happen?

A: UDC will not lose its HBCU status. There is no reason or basis in the current plan for it to do so.

Q:: Is the detailed plan of how you plan to execute the process of improving and expanding the university available?

A: A detailed strategic and implementation plan will be developed through the collaboration of faculty, students and administrators. The mission of the University remains the same, the vision for its future was approved by the Board of Trustees just last month. We proceed from there.

Q: Why is it necessary to change the mission of the university when the mission clearly states that this is an open enrollment university?

A: The mission of the University is not changing. We will continue to provide open enrollment through the community college. We will continue to be the lowest cost, most accessible option in this region, and one of the most affordable and accessible in the country. Land Grant status is unrelated to an open enrollment policy.

Q: I appreciate the transparency offered by Dr. Sessoms and I feel positive about the direction of the school.  How will the programs of the Cooperative Extension be integrated into the educational experience?

A: They will be an integral part of the new College of Urban Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

Q: Are you anticipating & budgeting for a reduced enrollment due to the proposed increase in tuition?

A: We are anticipating at least a flat if not an increased enrollment due to the economy and the fact that we will remain the lowest cost, most accessible option - even while enhancing our academic programs and reputation at both the community college and baccalaureate and graduate levels.

Q: Land Grant; for restructure- Who will be UDC’s monetary investors for the college’s restructure and it’s oversights for the future?

A: Historically, UDC has received minimal support from outside investors. Its primary sources of revenue are tuition and the appropriation from the District of Columbia. There is broad support for the changes proposed by President Sessoms. In the future, we will look to greater participation by alumni and other individuals and partners in the private sector who will appreciate the contributions the University makes to their endeavors – through the quality of our programs, teaching and research. The governance, with the agreement of the city, will reflect the importance of these stakeholders in our successes.

Q: How is the center for Urban Education going to work?  What is the goal of this center?

A: How, exactly, it will work will be determined by a program develop collaboration of faculty, administration, and outside stakeholders and experts. The intention is to serve as a premier provider of top quality, research-supported, teaching, learning for the District of Columbia, the region and beyond.

Q: What should the student body expect to see for such a massive tuition increase when it comes to Academic Programs, facility upgrades and new faculty?

A: What you should expect to see is better, student-centered, academic programs and student services focused on learning and personal development.

Q: What is the back-up plan if the proposal does not get accepted?

A: There is no back-up plan. If the proposal is not accepted, students may expect the status quo, at best.


Alumni Questions

Q: How much of the budget comes from Alumni?  How often do you keep in contact with alumni about this information and the changes with the university?  How have you let DC residents (especially in the UDC area) know about what is going on in UDC?

A: Revenue dollars are in the amount of $452,495 came from gifts for scholarships.  The alumni base is represented by the University of the District of Columbia National Alumni Society which meets once a month.  The Association is a dues paying organization.  The University keeps in contact with its alumni through the Firebird alumni magazine (mailed 2 times per year), email and special events.  The University will be increasing the communications with alumni through the creation of an online newsletter (sent twice a month) to inform them of key news and happenings about UDC.


Activity Fee Questions

Q: Return the approximately $400,000 in student activity fee money that has been collected and not given to the student body.

A: The University’s Board of Trustees establishes all Student Fees.  The Board of Trustees carefully considers when and how students’ fees are assessed; the fees are required and Student fees, as indicated on the fee schedule, are non-refundable.  The student activity fees, specifically, do and have funded student clubs and organizations, as well as student publications, special events and activities (as determined by the student government associations), class activities and student elections. The small student activity fee is collected and the amount is based on enrollment from the previous academic year. By comparison, the University of the District of Columbia’s student fees is small and has not kept up with inflation.  Further, student fees are not absorbed into the university’s budget but are made available for student spending each year. On average the University collects $180 thousand in student activity fees annually. Spending to support student activities in 2006, 2007, and 2008 totaled $179,762, $128,335 and $139,297, respectively. Unspent funds remaining at year-end are included in the subsequent year budget. The Office of Budget and Management provides a student fees budget each year following the close of the previous fiscal year. There is no overage for student activities fees.

Beginning in the Fall 2006, the University instituted a student center fee to generate revenue to support the construction of the student center. Collections from this fee are maintained in an interest bearing account. The account balance to date is $2,229,113.

Note: Each fiscal year the Office of Student Affairs has allowed SGA to utilize funds within Student Life Services budget with the approval of the Vice President and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs. These amounts have not been included in the above expenditure calculation.


Time-line Questions

Q: How long will it be before we can build the prestigious and new image of UDC?

A: The University is currently in the process of improving the image of the institution through:

  • Creating a new and improved web site;
  • Utilizing social networking and viral marketing strategies to lengthen the communication arm of the University (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.);
  • Centralizing marketing efforts University-wide to ensure integrity of the University’s brand and image;
  • Creating more of a presence across Van Ness and Connecticut Avenue through the use of banners: working with key constituents internally to better disseminate university news and announcement s to alumni, donors and other key stakeholders;
  • Increasing advertising and marketing throughout the District highlighting the University’s differentials (i.e. 92% bar pass rate of our law students, mortuary science program, 75 degree options, etc.) and other reasons why to attend UDC;
  • Improving programming on our cable TV channel to make it more relevant to district residents.

Q: When will the changes take place?

Q: Will there be a time management system?


Community College Questions

Q: How will the new standards affect the current students who may not have the GPA requirement? Will they be shipped to the Community College?  Will they have to reapply?

A: The only students that will become a part of the new community college are the students that are currently enrolled in associate degree, certificate, or workforce development programs. Current UDC students who are enrolled in bachelor degree programs will not need to reapply to UDC.

Q: Where will the financial support come from for the Community College?  Who is paying for it?

A: The budget for the community college already exists, as UDC has been offering associate degree, certificate, and workforce development programs. These programs and the existing budget for these programs will be transferred to the community college.

Q: If I am under Community College and an International Student, why would I still have to pay $7,000 per year?  The presentation had college and university SEIU, LA Tech, Minnesota who are giving in state for International students too?

A: The community college plans to have only one tuition rate of $3,000 per year for full-time students, rather than a separate tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students.  One tuition rate will enable the community college to be accessible to all students.

Q: Do the students who are already enrolled in UDC’s College have to go to the Community College?

A: If current UDC students are enrolled in an associate degree, certificate, or workforce development program, then they will become a part of the new community college. The community college will still be a part of the larger university system of the District of Columbia.

Q: How much of Southeastern University’s debt will UDC have to assume in order to open up the Community College at Southeastern’s current location?  Please specify the dollar amount.

A: UDC has not entered into any formal arrangement with Southeastern University at this point.

Q: I am currently working towards an associate degree, but I would like to change to a BA in Business.  I would like to know if this is at all possible.

A: Yes. For more information, please speak with your advisor.

Q: Will the credit from the community college be acceptable at other universities?

A: Yes. Credit from the community college will be transferable to the University of the District of Columbia. The community college will also develop agreements with other area universities to ensure the smooth transfer of community college credits.


Facility Questions

Q: Since this is supposed to be the flagship university for the District, will dormitories be built?

A: Future plans for the flagship university include the construction or acquisition of dormitories for its students. More details will be outlined in the Facility Master Plan.

Q: The tennis court is rented out therefore: How can UDC students have total access to all facilities since we are paying for it?

A: The University supports students having full and priority access to all of its facilities. The University’s new Athletic Director has made this matter a priority.

Q: Without the 4.0 Lounge students like me would have no place to go on campus before or after classes to network with other students. With the tuition increase can we finally expect to see a state of the art Student Center being built in the near future?

A: The University remains fully committed to the construction of a new state of the art Student Center on or near the existing flagship campus. Although the design phase of this project has recently been revisited, the administration fully understands the necessity for having a quality student center for its students in the very near future.


Academic/Athletic Program Questions


Q: How do you plan to stabilize the Nursing Program for students who have more than 60 credit hours and are forced to look to other nursing programs to receive a BSN due to UDC only offering an AA for nursing?

Elementary Education

Q: What is supposed to happen to the students that are currently enrolled and majoring in Elementary Education?

Q: How will this change affect the Early Childhood Leadership Program?

Architectural Program

Q: You mentioned that the list of accreditations were extensive.  I am aware that the Architectural Program is not accredited.  Is this to continue or will there be accreditation in the future?  What is the future of the architecture program at UDC?

Business School

Q: How will the increase in tuition benefit the business students who are not offered enough classes, staff, and classrooms, and if the tuition increase will not help this problem who or what will?

A: In 2008 the Business School hired an Assistant Dean for Student Affairs who is tasked with and totally committed to addressing the concerns of the Business School students

Because of low enrollments in sections of some classes, the classes have had to be cancelled. It is simply not reasonable to offer a class with two or three students. The faculty advisors and department chairs have worked with the affected students to inform them as early as possible of class cancellations and to assist them in finding alternative classes. As appropriate, the School also recommends classes be taken in the consortium as appropriate. The School is revamping its advisement system to facilitate students taking classes in proper sequence. This will aid in courses being scheduled one-to-two years in advance based on projected enrollments. Students will then be able to plan the sequencing of their classes better.

The School is in the process of hiring additional full-time and part-time adjuncts faculty in various disciplines.

Because of the renovation of Building 52, the School is holding its classes on main campus. This has been a challenge but the School has worked to minimize the disruption in terms of classroom. With the assistance of the Deans of the other schools and colleges (and their designees) and other university administrators, the School has been able to find classroom space for all of its classes. The School has also scheduled classes during alternate times to alleviate the classroom shortage at peak times.

Biological and Environmental Science

Q: With the tuition increase, what are the short and long term changes that will be made in the Biological and Environmental Science department?

Q: Will they get a ventilation system in the Integrated Science chemical lab?

Q: Will there be initiatives for Environmental Science students to travel, Intern, Work-abroad?

Q: How will you bring together other universities to collaborate with Chemistry, Bio & Environmental Science Departments?

UDC Athletics

Q: Is your proposal to turn the university into a Division I sports Program?

A: Reclassifying to NCAA Division I is a strategic goal for the university, however the department of athletics is currently on NCAA probation and the association has imposed a moratorium on reclassification.  Reclassification and provisional membership is a lengthy process.


Tuition and Financial Aid Questions


Q: Is the Tuition Management System going to be available after the tuition rates go up?

A: The TMS system will remain in place and will be available to all students.

Q: Are there any accommodations being made for students whom are not eligible for extra financial aid?  Will more Financial Aid (Grant) funds be available since the tuition is increasing? Are there any scholarships for continuing students as we are paying around $3,000 per semester for 12 credits, but how do you expect us to pay $7,000?

A: The Office of Financial Aid is committed to assisting students and will diligently search for avenues to help those students who are not eligible for increased financial aid.
This will be accomplished through creating a financial aid package consisting of a combination of programs. The available programs are:

  • Pell Grant
  • SEOG Grant
  • Academic Competiveness
  • National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant
  • Federal Work Study Program
  • Federal Family Educational Loan Program
  • Institutional Grants
  • Institutional Scholarships
  • Private Scholarships

Through a combination of the above programs The Office of Financial Aid fully expects to cover every financial aid student’s cost of attendance, after the tuition increase.

Q: The FAFSA is stated to qualify a student for all available funds and grants such as the PELL, so if a student qualifies for one, how come not the other on the one offering $5,000?

A: In addition to the Pell Grant (based upon financial need), The Academic Competiveness Grant ($1,500 per year, 3.0 GPA) and the SMART Grant ($4,000 per year, 3.0 GPA) are awarded based upon academic achievement.

Q: A lot of students attend UDC not only because it is an excellent competitive university, but extremely affordable, so if tuition/books increase, will the financial aid and grants?

A: Students will receive the maximum grants that they are entitled to.  The University plans to increase the amount of institutional grants awarded to students.

Q: How does UDC expect students to be able to pay for tuition if it goes up in the middle of an economical crisis?

A: Although the country is in the midst of an economic crisis and has been for several years, we will seek to assist students in covering tuition costs with a minimum impact on the student through available financial aid programs.  Students this university and other universities will continue to pursue their education in the middle of this economic situation.

Q: How will the financial aid, Pell Grants and FSEOG Grants be raised to compensate for all Continuing students?

A: Proposed legislation in the President’s economic stimulus package, proposes an immediate increase in the Federal Pell grant program by $500 and increase the Pell Grant  to $5,231 by the year 2012. Current aid package is about $7,000 per semester (grants and loans).

The university is committed to increasing need based assistance for international students.

Q: Are there any scholarships for the International Students maintaining good grades?

A: Merit based scholarships will be created for those who maintain academic excellence.


International Students (See Summary Response below)

Q: International Student: What would you do for international students who before they leave their countries and already planned with their parents with the old tuition and whose parents cannot afford the new tuition?  For a student who already started his classes and cannot afford for the new tuition, what would you do for him?

Q: Why such an increase for international students when the majority of the student body is international students?

Q: It is understandable that UDC needs more money; hence the tuition increase.  What will happen to International Students who will have to pay double what they are paying now without being able to work in the USA?

Q: When and where can we apply for the preference need-based aid?  What are the requirements that international students need to fill out in order to get this funding?

Q: What criteria will be used to determine need?

Q: What are the alternatives for the International Students who are paying a current tuition fee?  Most of the students are from poor nations.  What will be the impact of the student and their family who supports the students?  I am here to pursue my education and dream.  Is this the American value?  What are the opportunities that will be available for us to pursue our dream?  What about a 4.0 GPA International Student?

Q: Are you aware of the fact that most International Students cannot afford this new tuition, despite the fact they are generally good students?

Q: I am an International Student and have two more semesters left.  How would you describe the impact of the student tuition increase?  Neither I have sufficient time to transfer nor can I afford it.  What do you have for me ( a continuing International student of UDC)?

Q: How are we expected to pay twice as much when the F1 Visa International Students  does not allow us to work?

Q: Before coming to the university we choose the college as per the academic cost, but the increase of tuition by double amount will be more difficult to adjust.

Q: What will happen to students who are International and are about to graduate and cannot pay the higher cost?

Summary Response:

A: International students are invited to meet with the Provost and staff from the Office of International Programs and Exchanges on February 26, 2009 from 3:00-4:30pm. in Bldg. 41/A-03 to discuss the administration’s effort to address student concerns about the proposed tuition increase for AY 2009-2010.

The University administration’s vision for increased academic excellence, revitalized programs and facilities, competitive advanced degrees and a more student-focused mission requires a tuition increase. We recognize that any increase may pose economic hardship for many international students and we are committed to ensuring that international students continue to be part of our academic campus community. To this end we are evaluating alternative sources of funding as well as other options which will be presented to the Board of Trustees for deliberation.

All international students are encouraged to remain at UDC, which is poised to become an even stronger institution providing more comprehensive student and academic services while remaining affordable and competitive even after the proposed tuition increase.

In the interim, please know that:

  • We are working on an up-to-date list of alternative sources of funding both on and of campus. The University is exploring a need-based scholarship program for international students.
  • We are looking into feasible loan options for international students.

International students are permitted to work in the United States. The type of employment that an international student seeks and how long the student has been in F1 status may limit employment opportunities. Students who have had an F1 visa for less than one academic year are permitted to work on-campus during their initial year. Many times, the compensation for on-campus employment is also limited.  For more information about employment opportunities, students are invited to attend monthly meetings scheduled by the International Student Advisor and to review information on the international student section of the Admission web site:

We are seeking to clarify and create policy and procedures for merit versus need-based support for international students.
The majority of UDC students are U.S./ domestic students. International students (F1 visa status) make up approximately 10% of the student body. Those students holding other immigrant and non-immigrant visas, constitute approximately 5% of the student body. The largest enrollment of international students is currently in the disciplines of engineering, computer science, nursing and business administration.


Campus Employment Questions

Q: Will UDC improve on the offering of other opportunities such as work study to provide alternate ways of paying for school other than just financial aid?

A: The Division of Student Affairs’ Office of Career Development offers on-campus employment opportunities for qualified students through its Student Employment Program (SEP). The SEP program provides on-campus employment for students who:

  • Are enrolled full-time (at least 12 credit hours)
  • Have and maintain at least a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • In possession of or eligible to receive a social security card
  • Eligibility begins in the student’s 2nd semester of the freshmen year and lasts until the completion of graduate school and pays between $7.55 per hour for 2nd semester freshmen to $9.50 per hour for graduate students.
  • The Office of Career Development makes provisions for international students who are selected for the Student Employment Program by providing the student with letters to the Social Security Administration indicating their appointment to work on-campus.


Scholarship Questions

Q: Will there be scholarship opportunities for continuing students maintaining a higher GPA that have not taken the SAT?

A: Merit based scholarships have been established and will be awarded based upon academic achievement. The university is committed to funding the scholarships for those students who strive for academic excellence.

Q: Will returning undergrads with a 4.0 GPA be offered scholarships & free tuition the same as entering freshmen?

Q: If we are striving to build a prestigious university, don’t you think most aid should be merit based instead of need based? This especially applies to International Students. They want to come to this university because they are brilliant, not just because they are in need.

A: The university is committed to increasing need based assistance for international students.

Q: Are there any scholarships for the International Students maintaining good grades?

Q: Will the university provide scholarship opportunities for International Students who maintain good grades to help off-set the tuition increase?


Faculty Questions

Q: With the tuition increase, how soon will we see improvement in the teaching?

A: There are many excellent teachers at UDC. If you are disappointed by the instruction you are receiving, be sure to complete, as comprehensively as possible, with comments, your course evaluations.

Q: Will there be any Teaching Assistant positions available in the future?

A: Yes.

Q: How can you justify raising tuition for current students when the current faculty and facilities are below standard?

A: It is important to understand that tuition, even at the higher level, does not come close to covering the cost of your education. UDC offers a competitive value/cost proposition – with the tuition increase. If you think UDC is below standard – which it is not – why did you choose to enroll here? These are choices you have to make.


Green Campus Questions (See Summary Response below)

Q: Are we getting off the power grid to become a more Green campus?

Q: What are you doing to get recycling and composting working effectively?

Q: Are you going to make the power plant more efficient and stop wasting energy over-heating and over-cooling buildings?

Q: Are you going to ensure that nay new buildings (like the new law school building) and renovations are done to the highest green building standards?

Q: Are you going to hire a campus sustainability officer to green the campus with such things as buying 100% recycled paper, reducing paper use, increasing use of clean energy, etc.?

Q: Are you going to prepare the academic programs to train students for the new and growing (especially now with the election of Obama) Green Jobs economy?

Summary Response:

A: The purpose of the newly formed UDC Sustainability group is to pull together all member of the UDC community who are interested in environmental and social justice issues.  There are many UDC departments already involved in these issues. The UDC Sustainability will be a forum to gather, disseminate and cross-fertilize sustainable ideas, projects, and collaborations across the UDC community.  There was an informational table at the EcoJustice Café, Friday, February 6, 2009 at 6: 00 p.m. outside the Firebird Café, Building 38, B-level for those who are interested in joining.


Academic Senate Questions

Q: Are you going to ensure that academic senate and other university bodies are democratically elected by their constituencies?

A: The charter for the Interim Academic Senate includes voting members elected from every UDC Department (12) and the Learning Resources Division. Appointed members include the Dean of the School of Law, the presidents of the Undergraduate and Student Government Associations, a faculty member, 3 adjunct professors a student and an administrator. Thus 13 members are democratically elected to the senate and 2 more are elected by students for a total of 15 elected and 7 appointed.


Health Clinic Questions

Q: What is the university going to do about the loss of our health clinic? Are you going to replace the health clinic so that we don’t lose our health services paid for by student fees?

A: The University Health Services clinic is open to all students, faculty, staff and official visitors and has not closed its doors. Services are available and the clinic does not plan to close.


Bookstore Questions

Q: With this increase in tuition, will we as students be able to get another Bookstore provider?  The provider we have is not only expensive but inadequate to fulfill our needs and I know I speak for many students?

A: The University is in the last year of its existing contract with Follett Bookstore. The contract period ends in September 2009. We are in the initial stage of developing a new scope of work for competitive bookstore services for the University.