New President Focuses on the Basics
MASON: "I DO NOT SEE THE 4-YEAR SCHOOL AS A SINKING SHIP."
PHOTO COURTESY SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY
Washington, D.C. – New University of the District of Columbia (UDC) President Ronald Mason Jr. said during his first year he will focus on fixing the problems that everyone sees, but are not supposed to see; computer systems, emails, financial aid processes, and the registrars’ office. Also, incorporated is a 10-point action plan presented during the Sept. 2015 opening convocation, which includes, but is not limited to, Middle States reaffirmation, Title IV good standing, and finalizing productive union contracts. “Everything that is not working we have to get things working like a business operation should run,” he said.
Since taking office in July, Mason has met with District Mayor Muriel Bowser, and city council members LaRuby May (Ward 8), Yvette Alexander (Ward 7), and Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5). The sentiments amongst the city leaders were the same according to Mason: wanting UDC to work, and to have a public institution everyone could be proud of.
According to Mason, focusing on student's needs is key to the university’s revitalization. Credited with growing Jackson State University enrollment and graduation rates, Mason hopes to do the same with UDC. He said he will use some of the same strategies of building a system that will be a student support network that works with a student from the day he or she enters into the university, until he or she graduates and gets a job. The challenge, said Mason is making a commutable school a community.
To understand the needs of UDC students, Mason and his administration will meet with student leaders regularly each semester, according to Provost Rachel Petty. In an October meeting, several student leaders including Kia Ray, vice president of the Senior Class met with the president for lunch. Ray was appreciative. “They are committed to working with student leaders to ensure all student concerns are acknowledged, and rectified. I look forward to embarking on this partnership," she said.
This and other initiatives are designed to help find ways to increase retention, and graduation rates, goals set forth in the Vision 2020 by the previous administration.
“For UDC to increase enrollment, retention and graduation rates, in my opinion you need to have a system of learning to accomplish those goals; the community college needs the university and the university needs the community college for both to succeed. I do not see the 4-year school as a sinking ship. I think it’s a perception problem in terms of the brand, and I think we can change the perception. We have enough quality and price point for the value that I think we can market.” Jokingly, Mason added, “If I have to, I will get on my bike and start visiting people to talk about UDC.”
Mason said he will revisit the Vision 2020 plan which he describes as not in focus. “Some of the projections just aren’t real. The university anticipated funding from the District to implement 2020 just didn’t happen. We have to show them what we have and what we need and hope they will give us something to work with.”
Leading the Way to Change
ANJANETTE SHELBY AND JONIECE BARNES ARE IMPROVING STUDENT LIFE.
PHOTO COURTESY UDC
Washington, D.C. – The New President of the University Student Government Association (USGA), Joniece A. Barnes has three goals for her presidency – restoring school pride and faith, improving communication between students, administration, and staff, and facilitating activities that will include all students.
“My administration began working to achieve these goals immediately. We have had reasonable success thus far in our efforts, though not quite as much as we hope to achieve going forward,” said Barnes. One of those steps began with student engagement with a “Chat and Chew,” a chicken and biscuit social event at the beginning of the fall semester. It allowed returning, and new students to meet the USGA executive board members and for the board to identify future student leaders. “I am looking for the next group of leaders. We (USGA) do not want to graduate without having the next group of leaders in place to continue to make UDC better,” she said.
Barnes, a senior health education major whose responsibilities includes, overseeing the executive officers and liaison between students and administration, said, “If students do not want to participate in the process for change, tell me and I will be that voice for you.”
Another accomplishment by Barnes and her administration occurred during the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March on Oct. 10th. Barnes said, “I'm proud to say that The University of the District of Columbia was well represented during this event by our students. These events, and others like them are designed to increase student pride.”
USGA Treasurer Anjanette “Anjie” Shelby, shares Barnes mandate for change. “I want to be a change, you can't say you want things to change without being there to see it change.”
Shelby, a 51-year-old mother and business management major, had been out of school for several years and is considered a non-traditional student. Her changes would start with asking for more classes to be available to those with busy lives. Shelby said she understands the challenges students face with a lack of available classes. She believes this can be resolved by hiring more professors. With the right changes Shelby said that, “UDC can be the University where Dreams Come True.”
Meanwhile, Jahwon E. Corbett, chair of the USGA's Student Events and Special Events (SASE) committee believes that building community is key to student engagement. To date, the organization has helped organize the back to school week in September, which consisted of game day and pool party. SASE is also working on having consistent events every week. In addition it is focusing on more community outreach initiatives involving students, such as volunteering at soup kitchens, clothes drives, and participating in fitness events.
For Kia Ray, Senior Class vice president serving her peers is paramount. “A great leader also needs to be a great follower. I listen to other students needs and how their needs can be best met and I take it back to whomever can rectify it.” Ray continued, “They (student body) have confidence in me to carry out the mission of our senior class and to look out for their best interests. What people need to understand –staff and faculty – if students weren't here, there wouldn't be a need for any of them either."
For information visit: the USGA Facebook page. The USGA office is located in Building 38 room A-22.
President Joniece A. Barnes email@example.com; Vice President Tsholofelo Motshwane firstname.lastname@example.org; Treasure Anjanette “Anjie” Shelby email@example.com; Secretary Mulenga Chileshe firstname.lastname@example.org; SASE chair Jahwon E. Corbett email@example.com.
Eager Crowd Applauds Alumni's Work
ALANZO ROBLES-GORDON AT HIS TESSERAE ART EXHIBITION.
PHOTO : TIFFANY BRIDGETT
When Alumni Alanzo Robles-Gordon unveiled the work for his September art show entitled “Tesserae” at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), a room filled with family, friends, faculty members, and students eager to witness his works applauded him. Tesserae is a word that means a small stone, or particle of glass. With over 30 art pieces on view, excitement filled the room as people witnessed first-hand the amazing portfolio of ripped pieces of paper transitioned into art masterpieces.
Robles Gordon said the process of creating the art on view began years before the show. “Tesserae was the continuation of four pieces (the four long works on wood) I created in late 2010. At the time I'd been developing an interest in fashion and wanted to apply the technique I was becoming comfortable in with dress forms. In July 2015 Daniel Venne approached me about possibly having a solo show at UDC. I agreed and eventually decided to feature my 'fashionistas,' as I call them. I use magazine paper as my pigment. For source material I used magazines as well as fashion blogs looking for basic silhouettes. I went about crafting specific feelings for each piece, exposed rigidity, whimsy, making sure each girl's pose matched her intent."
Robles-Gordon takes his inspiration from a host of sources. “My influences range from fashion, 90's film and television, literature, daydreams, to deconstructions of intense emotion. I love stumbling on old art magazines and National Geographics. Artists such as Salvador Dali, Geoffrey Holder, Frida Kahlu and Maynard James Keenan have influenced me. I admire these artists because of their passion, depth of skill and their willingness to share themselves with the world at large.”
Robles-Gordon’s stepfather, Taiwo Iman, recognizes the lengths his son undergoes in creating his masterpieces. “It takes a lot of patience, I sat with him during one of his sessions, creating these art pieces take hours.”
Art is very important to Robles-Gordon, a vital part of his life. “Art is my stabilizer, my saving grace. Through art I communicate with myself, and the world while documenting my life. My self-expression takes the form of poetry, paper collage, and mixed-media sculpture.”
Professor Daniel Venne, co-coordinator of the art program, praised his former student’s efforts. “We are very proud to host this exhibition by alumnus Alanzo Robles-Gordon. The work is inspired, meticulously crafted, and a joy to behold. His exquisite sense of color dazzles the eye and his innovative sense of design speaks for itself."