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160th Anniversary Closing Gala Shines Light on Accomplishments

(Washington, DC) – Friday night's closing gala, marking the end of more than a year-long series of events commemorating the 160-year anniversary of the University of the District of Columbia, was a rousing success.  Amid the opulence of the Mayflower Hotel, University President Allen L. Sessoms thanked all those whose dedication and talent have helped pave the way for a renaissance of sorts within the District's only public university.

"In our 160th year of serving Washington, DC," said Dr. Sessoms, "we have completed a monumental renovation of the Van Ness Campus, a testament to our and the Mayor's dedication to urban sustainability.  We have broken ground on a new student center, which will be the first LEED Platinum student center in the nation, further demonstrating our commitment to sustainable construction.  And we have rededicated ourselves to providing the very best quality education in a way that is affordable and accessible to all."

Helping Dr. Sessoms celebrate the evening was a host of city leaders, council members and District luminaries, several of whom were formally recognized.

In what will be known as the University's President's Award, Dr. Sessoms posthumously bestowed upon Ronald H. Brown the first ever citation.  Accepting the award on behalf of his father was At-Large Council Member Michael Brown, who noted his father's many achievements as the first African-American to hold the position of Treasury Secretary in a Presidential Administration.  Ron Brown was a leader on the UDC Board of Trustees from 1976-1985, serving as the body's first Chair from 1976-1980 and then again from 1983-1985.  His "presence is felt to this day," said Dr. Sessoms.

Many District leaders were recognized with 160-year medals.  Five recipients were selected for their unwavering dedication to the advancement of District interests.  As mistress of ceremonies Doreen Gentzler of NBC-4 read their bios, each recipient walked across the stage in the main ball room to receive their medal.  Honored during the ceremony were: Michelle Hagans, President of the Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation; Barbara Lang, president and CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce; Jim Dinegar, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade; Her Excellency Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, Ambassador of the Republic Botswana to the United States; and Vincent C. Gray, Mayor of the District of Columbia.

The University of the District of Columbia traces its roots to 1851 and the establishment of the Myrtilla Miner School for Colored Girls.  Miner, a New York abolitionist and teacher, founded the college in Washington in order to teach black women how to be teachers.  The school evolved over the years into what we know today as the University of the District of Columbia.

As the only urban land-grant institution in the United States, the University of the District of Columbia ( supports a broad mission of education, research and community service across all member colleges and schools, which include the Community College, College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, College Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Public Administration, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and David A. Clarke School of Law.

The University of the District of Columbia is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action institution. Minorities, women, veterans and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply. For a full version of the University's EO Policy Statement, please visit:

The University of the District of Columbia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education - 3624 Market Street - Philadelphia, PA 19104 - 267.284.5000

Contact: Alan Etter, Vice President of University Relations & Public Affairs,, 202.345.6371