President Focuses on Action Plan
President Mason IS FOCUSING ON HIS 10-POINT ACTION PLAN.
PHOTO: MELVIN BOGARD
Washington, D.C. - Seven months into his tenure as president, Ronald Mason Jr. continues to focus on the 10-point action plan he presented during the September 2015 convocation to increase enrollment, retention and graduation rates. On Feb. 5, Mason and Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the District of Columbia University Partnership (DC-UP) will provide full four-year scholarships and housing stipends to the valedictorians and salutatorians of D.C. public and charter schools. Mason said, “It’s time for UDC to be seen as a valedictorian and salutatorian school in the Washington area.”
Part of the university’s challenge has been based on the perception of low graduation rates. The graduation rate is based on first time, full-time freshmen who graduate in six years. Mason has incorporated a strategy called Focus 14 that will center on the 84 full-time students who enrolled at the Van Ness campus in 2014. According to Mason, “The entire graduation rate is based on these students.” Focus 14, which is still in process, is really based on changing the perception by concentrating on those students as first-time freshman and making sure they graduate at a higher rate within six years. Students that are part of this group will receive all the necessary support and will be tracked and assessed on a regular basis by the support counseling office. “We know all of their names and backgrounds, and we are analyzing them as much as possible from a data perspective,” he said. “It’s really about them, the deans, and faculty all working together and focusing on these 84 students getting out in six years.”
Even though roughly 1200 students enrolled in 2014, most were part-time. “It’s not that we are ignoring the rest of the students, it’s just that we can change the perception just by focusing on those 84 and the things we want to do on a larger scale - they make a pretty nice group,” said Mason.
Another obstacle Mason faces is the Middle States reaffirmation for the university’s accreditation. He said, “The mock visit didn’t go very well. We are trying to regroup and fill the holes that were identified to do an incredible job. The goal was to track a 10-year process of data analysis and assessment and self-improvement, but when you’ve had so many presidents, vice presidents, provosts and student assess officers, it’s hard to piece together data…that’s been a real challenge.” He said the goal is to not go on probation.Due to some key leadership positions changes in his administration, some progress slowed. Mason said, “With confidence, all will pick up speed now that those key positions have been filled.” The two key positions are Chief Student Development and Success Office, Dr. William Latham, who will have university-wide authority over student development and student success, and Dr. Anthony Summers who will serve as provost to the community college.
Student Center Officially Opens
NEW STUDENT CENTER IS HUB FOR ACTIVITY.
PHOTO: MELVIN BOGARD
Washington, D.C. - The University of the District of Columbia's (UDC) new student center officially opened Jan. 20 to great fanfare from students, faculty, staff and community leaders. President Ronald Mason Jr. stated during the opening ceremony that it took blood, sweat and tears to get the center opened. Now the 83,000 sq. ft. center will serve as a hub for student activity and will provide resources and amenities for the community.
At the helm is Clifton Johnson, director. He said “I am really excited about the opportunity for the students. Because this is the hub for campus life – we will be able to offer student space to reserve for events…and they will be able to advertise and market their events through the student center.”
Johnson’s top priorities are to continue filling key professional staff positions as well as student positions, putting policies and procedures in place for building use and reservation processes and guidelines to reserve space.
The student employment program, which consists of 15 part-time paid positions will range from helping the fitness and wellness center to events and building operations. He said, “The program is setup where these student positions will get professional development where they will be able to translate a lot of those skills they are learning in these positions to their resume to help them get their first job or that next job.” Johnson also emphasized that this program will help students build their team bonding and development and customer service skills.
“From my own personal experience this is how I started my career. I started working in my freshman year in college (Elon University) working in the student center. I worked there for four years and it turned into my professional work in higher education. So I’ve basically lived and been part of a student center for the last 12 years of my life.” Prior to joining UDC, Johnson served as the Associated Director of Facilities and Event Services at American University in Washington, D.C.
The Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Platinum certified building has a student lounge, gaming stations, dining facility, fitness center, a ballroom that can accommodate up to 300 people and smaller conference rooms that will work for smaller meetings. According to Johnson, student organizations and events will have priority when it comes to facility use and will not have to pay a rental fee. University, faculty and staff events that are not geared towards students will be subjected to a fee.
The revenue projected for 2016 is potentially around $75,000,which is based on an estimate of 30 paid events at a rate of $2,500 per event, Johnson stated. “We are halfway there, 20 possible external groups are waiting to reserve space with us.”
Highschoolers Exhibit at African American Show
A COLLAGE OF SKETCHES AT THE TRAILBLAZER SHOW.
PHOTO: OSIRIS REBOLLO
Washington, D.C. - He has been creating art since before he was in kindergarten, so Khyle Hightower was delighted when he won first place at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) art program’s show, Trailblazers, in early February.
“I’ve been drawing since Pre-K, but I became more avid in middle school.” Right now he is enrolled in a college-level class. All that work appears to be paying off, too. “I think this will look great in my portfolio,” said Hightower, who attends Bell Multicultural High School in Northwest D.C.
Hightower was one of several highschoolers from across the city who took part in the show. Their work was displayed at an opening reception in the university’s Gallery 42. According to Professor Daniel Venne, art program coordinator and a driving force behind the show, the event served two purposes.
“It’s Black History Month, so we try to have shows that correspond to that. We also wanted to bring some high school students in, to let them know we have an art program...we decided to combine the idea to have an art contest focusing on the theme of African-American history,” Venne explained.
Meanwhile, Hightower said his winning submission, a true to life sketch of Langston Hughes, was inspired by the writer. The sketch was done in pencil, and featured Hughes in front of a river scene and other symbols of his life and work.
Why Langston Hughes? “I’ve been reading about Langston Hughes since I was in seventh grade...I like his work the best, especially Thinking Man,” said Hightower.
Other winners included Ana Guevara from Bell Multicultural High School, who won second place for her painting of Misty Copeland.
There were also several submissions from UDC students, like graphic design major Machee Kelly, who reproduced a Diana Ross photoshoot for a Supremes’ album.
“I chose Diana Ross because she is one of the more well known trailblazers from back in the day...when I think about African-American history and whatnot and certain symbols that were very prominent back then, she was a prominent figure,” said Kelly.