UDC News

April 6, 2009


Four University of the District of Columbia Alumni
Receive Prestigious National Award from NAFEO

Washington, D.C. – The University of the District of Columbia is proud to announce that four alumni have been selected to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). UDC alumni - Portia Holmes Shields, Ph.D., Valerie Curtis, Suzanne Mayo-Theus, and Darrell Watson - are among over 100 outstanding graduates of 120 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI) being honored during the 40th Distinguished Alumni Awards celebration event on April 4. The event is part of NAFEO’s 35th National Conference on Blacks in Higher Education, April 1 – 4, 2009 in Atlanta, GA.

NAFEO will recognize the following UDC alumni for their outstanding achievements:

Portia Holmes Shields, Ph.D. was the first woman president at Albany State University. As the University’s seventh president, she spearheaded a $153 million rebuilding program that, in fact, created a new campus with modern architecture that replaced the demolished structures and added 52,000 square feet of space.

Valerie Curtis is in her second season as the head women’s basketball coach with Georgian Court University. Prior to her current coaching position, she served as the head basketball coach at Lock Haven University where she guiding the team to the first winning record in a decade. She still ranks second in the nation’s single-season chart for steals in the NCAA Division II for women’s basketball.

Suzanne Mayo-Theus is known around this country and around the world as a humanitarian and a dynamic motivational speaker. She is the author of two publications, “The Do’s and Don’ts of Fundraising: How to Become a Successful Fundraiser” and “The Do’s and Don’ts of Diversity Philanthropy Leadership: Up Close and Personal.”

Darrell Watson is the world-famous music teacher at Ballou Senior High School in Washington, D.C. He has brought national acclaim to Ballou and the District of Columbia with the award- winning Ballou High School Band, the Marching Knights. The Marching Knights recently made national headlines when they performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 2009. Mr. Watson has been recognized nationally, including recognition in 2007 as an ABC News “Person of the Week.”

The Distinguished Alumni Awards luncheon honors alumni of Historically Black Colleges who have distinguished themselves in their professions, their communities, our nation, or the world for excellence and altruism. The emcees for this year’s gala luncheon are movie-star couple Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker. The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher education (NAFEO) is an umbrella organization of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). Founded in 1969, NAFEO is the only membership association of its kind, representing the presidents and chancellors of the diverse black colleges and universities: public, private and land-grant, two-year, four-year, graduate and professional, historically and predominantly black colleges and universities. It includes 500,000 students, 50,000 faculty, and 5 million alumni..


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. The University, an urban land grant institution, is a very diverse community, a gateway to the world, and a significant economic 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. 

Jackie Boynton, Assistant Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Alumni Relations, jboynton@udc.edu or 202.997.7161