Dr. Lyons: UDC Needs To Prove Its Value
INTERIM PRESIDENT, DR. JAMES E. LYONS HOLDS A PRESS CONFERENCE AT UDC (COURTESY OF DAVID GASTON) WASHINGTON, DC - Washington, D.C. – Dr. James E. Lyons, Sr., interim president at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), said he’s not a “miracle worker” after a press conference held in late March to announce his hiring.
He said that the flagship university has to show its worth to the city in response to city council members, like Ward 2 representative Jack Evans, who question the necessity of a four-year public institution.
“We have to prove that we add value to what’s going on in the higher [education] arena,” Lyons said. “And that’s a part of my challenge.”
Lyons said he wants to move the university’s agenda forward, “so when the permanent president comes in that person can hit the ground running.”
Lyons will preside over the university for the next 12-18 months while the board of trustees begins vetting candidates to become the permanent president.
He said UDC has a unique mission. “The university has one of the greatest missions that any university could have,” Lyons said. “We're the only university in this country whose purpose is to serve the nation's capital...I can't think of a greater mission.”
Lyons will oversee the university as it prepares to undertake the consolidation and elimination of some academic programs after UDC's academic leadership completes the academic program review in June. Also, the university is scheduled for an accreditation review from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education during the 2014-2015 school year. Lyons said that his highest priority is preparing the university for that review.
Lyons' other priorities during his term includes the university right-size, completing a strategic plan to transform the university through the rest of the decade, making the campus more student friendly, building better ties between the university and community and creating a consistent message between the flagship and the community college. The last task is the “highest emotional priority,” Lyons said, because tensions between the flagship and community college reflect poorly on the university.
To carry out these priorities, Lyons said he has to meet with different stakeholders to build a consensus amongst the university community.
“We want to rally people together – you know students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends of this university – to get them to understand that this university is really a gem.”
UDC is the fourth university that Lyons has led. He served as Bowie State University's president from 1983-1992, Jackson State University from 1992-1999 and California State University at Dominguez Hills from 1999-2007. Lyons was hired as secretary of Maryland's Higher Education Commission in 2007, where he served until he retired in 2010.
Dr. Elaine Crider, chair of UDC's board of trustees, said in a press release that Lyons “brings an impressive academic history” to the university. Under Lyons' leadership, Bowie State transitioned from a college to a university in 1988.
“We are very fortunate to have Dr. Lyons join us at this important time and will certainly benefit from his extensive leadership experience,” Crider said.
UDC Student Is Third Generation Graduate
TERAESA HOLLAND GRACES THE AUDIENCE WITH HER VOICE DURING A CONCERT AT UDC.
(COURTESY OF TERAESA HOLLAND)
Tears of joy will run down Teraesa Holland’s cheeks this spring when she walks and is the third consecutive University of the District of Columbia (UDC) graduate from her family. Along the way, her spirit has been tested, but she has overcome those adversities and emerged a Firebird.
The University Student Government Association (USGA) President and native from Northeast D.C. is expected to graduate on the eve of Mother’s day. She will join the ranks of her grandmother, Thelma Hatcher Greene, who received a Bachelor's (BA) in Education in 1946 and her mother, Pamela Watson, who earned a BA in Social Work in 1996.
“Education was always stressed in my household growing up,” said Holland, “I often found school to be dreary and at times argued about its purpose with my family.” Holland’s family always advocated education and encouraged her to attend UDC.
Holland recalls her difficult freshman year. “When I first started my college journey, I honestly did not want to be here. I was thoroughly unmotivated about education in every aspect,” she said.
Holland was initially music major, but eventually found her calling in graphic design. “I found myself wanting to be a better student, but was no longer interested in music, so I found something I did like,” she said. However, as academic interests re ignited her personal life was challenged.
Holland’s mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. The pressures of juggling school and her mother’s battle took a toll on her education. “I had to go home from school early some days to help take care of my mother,” she said. She became depressed and her grades dropped, but support from fellow students pulled her through.
A former UDC student, Leslie Marson helped Holland turn her pessimism into optimism. “I would tell her of how I felt about everything going on with my mom,” said Holland, “but she would tell me to think positive.” Holland’s mother eventually recovered allowing her to focus on her studies and throw herself into campus life. Holland ran for Miss University of the District of Columbia in 2008, earning the Miss Homecoming title. “This is when I really became an active Firebird on campus,” said Holland. She represented the school on and off campus singing in concerts on campus and also participated in community programs like the annual Martin Luther Kind Jr. parade.
Holland then became a member of the Kappa Alpha Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. The social aspects of sorority life helped her stay connected to events around campus that promoted wellness. Many of Holland’s sorority sisters were involved in student government and encouraged her to run for office. In 2011 she became Secretary of the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA), in 2012 she was voted Vice President, and in 2013 holds the position of USGA President. Holland is proud of her time in office.
Holland credits graduation, the collimating piece of hard work, to the examples set by her grandmother and mother. She might be crying as she walks across the stage on graduation day, but they will be tears of joy as she is handed her diploma and is added to the names of great Firebirds that came before her. “I am proud to call myself a firebird,” said Holland, “Being a Firebird is not just something you are because you attend UDC, it’s something you become.”
Students Support School At Council Hearing
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES FIELD QUESTIONS FROM
STUDENTS. PHOTO BY RADAKA LIGHTFOOT
A group of University of the District of Columbia students joined teachers, staff and alumni in supporting continued programs at the university during a District of Columbia Council hearing on March 12.
“It is important that we all come together in support of our university because it has provided me and others with the opportunity to get a college degree for an affordable price,” stated Lauren Graham, senior, music major.
Members of the Student Outreach Group were among 45 supporters who spoke on behalf of the university.
The students met on Mondays and Wednesdays for weeks about how to galvanize support for the school at the hearing. They focused on finding students to testify in support of the school and created petitions for students to sign.
“Students who knew the hearing was coming decided to take action ahead of time,” said David Gaston, project coordinator in the office of Student Life and Services and a mentor for the group.
At the hearing former mayor Marion Barry, now a Ward 8 council member, stated “I intended on keeping this university funded, I love UDC.” With those powerful words attendees clapped and cheered.
The organizers were pleased with the turnout.
“It was packed, wall to wall,” said Mheeraw Kennedy, a sophomore, majoring in mechanical engineering.
“It shows that students want to get involved with the university and be a part of what goes on,” said Roman Tanner, a graduate student, majoring in education.
UDC’s women’s indoor track team recently finished its season in style by winning the East Coast Conference Women’s Indoor Championship, however no one will remember it more than Shauna-Kay Creary. Creary, a junior accounting major from Kingston, Jamaica finished her season as East Coast Conference (ECC) Athlete of the Year, with all- region honors, and as Division II Female National Athlete of the Week.
Plastic bag pollution in the Anacostia River has decreased by at least 60 percent since a 5-cent tax on plastic bags went into effect in 2010, according to a study done by the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS). The study was funded by the D.C. Department of the Environment (DDOE).
Washington D.C. Northeast native Nisho Soul, whose real name is Michael Drayton, does it all regarding music. Whether it’s writing, producing or creating his own mixtape cover, he is making a name for himself in the music industry. His inspiration comes from his mother, who wrote poetry, and from the early work of his favorite hip-hop artist, Lupe Fiasco.
As temperatures rise, many college students start to think about summer, a carefree time where warm weather entices one to take a trip to an exotic place or a more realistic destination like a public pool. However, the lifestyle changes of college life and a slowing metabolism often result in weight gain.