UDC News


April 20, 2007

University of the District of Columbia to Confer Two Honorary Degrees at Annual Commencement Convocation

                        Washington, D.C. — The Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia will confer honorary degrees on two leaders in law and art as part of the University’s 30th Commencement Convocation, scheduled for 10:00 a.m., Saturday May 12th, 2007 at the Verizon Center.  The Honorable Alphonso Jackson, Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will be the keynote speaker for Commencement, which will be presided over by University President William L. Pollard, PhD.

            As a part of the graduation activities for the nation capital’s only public university, honorary doctoral degrees will be conferred on former Chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender (U.S. Army, Retired) and former Secretary of Transportation and civil rights attorney William T. Coleman, Jr.  General Adams-Ender will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, while a Doctor of Laws degree will be conferred upon Secretary Coleman.

            General Clara L. Adams-Ender was born in Wake County, North Carolina, the fourth oldest of ten children. She received her baccalaureate degree in nursing from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, NC; a Master of Science Degree in Nursing from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN and a Master of Military Art and Science degree from the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS. She has been awarded twelve honorary doctorate degrees in law, public service, humane letters and science.

            General Adams-Ender rose from a staff nurse in the army nurse corps to become the chief executive officer for 22,000 nurses, a brigadier general and director of personnel for the Army Surgeon General.  In 1967, she became the first female in the Army to be awarded the Expert Field Medical Badge. General Adams-Ender also commanded an army base, a position equivalent to city manager, magistrate and mayor of a city.  

            General Adams-Ender is President and Chief Executive Officer of Caring About People With Enthusiasm (CAPE) Associates, Inc., a management consulting and inspirational speaking firm. The agency specializes in health care management and health care reform, leadership issues and leader development, cultural diversity, women in the workplace and conflict management and resolution.  

            General Adams-Ender is Past Chairperson, Board of Directors of the Andrews Federal Credit Union, a Charter Member, Board of Visitors, U.S. Marine Corps University and a former member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS).  She has received many awards for her community work and service, including the Roy Wilkins Meritorious Service Award of the NAACP, Gertrude E. Rush Award for Leadership from the National Bar Association, Distinguished Service Medal with Oakleaf Cluster and the Regents' Distinguished Graduate Award from the University of Minnesota.  In 1996, she was named by Working Woman magazine as one of 350 women who changed the world from 1976-1996.

            William T. Coleman, Jr., a native of Philadelphia, attended racially-segregated local public schools before graduating summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941 and magna cum laude from Harvard law School in 1946.  He began his legal career in 1947, serving as law clerk in the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and clerk to Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter in 1948, the first African-American to serve as a Supreme Court law clerk.  Secretary Coleman was one of the lead strategists and coauthor of the legal brief in Brown v. Board of Education in which the Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools.  In the coming years he would defend freedom riders and other civil rights workers in cases throughout the South. He also served as co-counsel on the landmark case, McLaughlin v. Florida, which established the constitutionality of interracial marriages.

            Secretary Coleman served as a member of the NAACP's national legal committee, director and member of its executive committee, and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.  He was also a member of President Eisenhower's Committee on Government Employment Policy, a senior consultant and assistant counsel to the Warren Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, and a consultant to the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.


            On March 7, 1975, Secretary Coleman was appointed by President Gerald Ford as the fourth United States Secretary of Transportation, becoming the second African American to serve in the Cabinet.  During his tenure at the Department, NHTSA's automobile test facility at East Liberty, Ohio commenced operations, and the department established the Materials Transportation Bureau to address pipeline safety and the safe shipment of hazardous materials.  On leaving the Department, Coleman returned to Philadelphia, but subsequently became a partner in the Washington office of the Los Angeles-based law firm O'Melveny and Myers.

            In 1996, in the wake of the July 17 crash of TWA Flight 800, Secretary Coleman served on the President's Commission on Airline and Airport Security.  That same year, Coleman received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians by the United States. In December 2006, Coleman served as an Honorary Pallbearer during the State Funeral of former President Gerald R. Ford in both Washington, D.C. and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Coleman was the only African-American invited to participate in that capacity during the former President's funeral ceremonies.            




            The University of the District of Columbia is the fully-accredited sole public source for accessible, inclusive, affordable, and comprehensive public higher education in the District of Columbia and provides additional life-long learning opportunities. The University delivers quality instruction and uses student-centered approaches to empower and benefit both individuals and its local communities.  The University, an urban land grant institution, is a very diverse community, a gateway to the world, and a significant investment engine for the District of Columbia.  The University is located at 4200 Connecticut Ave, NW Washington, and is conveniently located at the Van Ness/UDC stop on the Red Line of Metro.  For more information on other University activities, contact Mike Andrews, Senior Director for Communications and University Spokesperson at (202) 274-5685 or visit the University’s web site at www.udc.edu.