August 13, 2008
University of the District of Columbia Appoints Dr. Allen L. Sessoms as New President
Washington, DC --- The Board of Trustees, faculty, administration and students of the University of the District of Columbia are pleased to announce that, after an exhaustive, transparent and national search over the past year, the Board of Trustees has selected a new President, Dr. Allen L. Sessoms. Currently the President of Delaware State University and a former president of Queens College of New York City, Dr. Sessoms holds a bachelor’s degree from Union College, a master's degree from the University of Washington and a doctorate from Yale University, all in Physics. He will take the helm the on
September 1, 2008. See Dr. Sessom’s resume at http://www.udc.edu/udc_president/sessoms_cur_vit.pdf
Dr. Sessoms brings not only great success in managing urban, public higher education institutions, but also has a strong academic history and administrative background. For the past 11 months a Presidential Search and Screening Committee, chaired by UDC Trustee Don Langenberg, former Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, has worked with the nationally known search firm Witt/Kieffer to develop and execute a comprehensive national search for the best person to lead UDC to a new level of excellence, service and value to the citizens of the District of Columbia.
"In my experience with more than two dozen university presidential searches, I've learned that the best results generally come from a nationally competitive process that is open, transparent, and inclusive of all stakeholders. That's the kind of search we conducted at UDC, and I believe Dr. Sessoms' appointment demonstrates its success," said Trustee Langenberg.
The Board of Trustees and Dr. Sessoms have agreed that during the early stages of Dr. Sessoms’ tenure, he will focus on:
• Implementation of a comprehensive University strategic plan for academic, administrative and operational reform, based in part on the University’s performance audit.
• Creation of a community college within the University while enhancing the existing four-year and graduate programs as well as strengthening faculty and University relations and faculty engagement.
• Implementation of aggressive strategies for public relations, marketing and fundraising that systematically increase financial resources for the University and strengthen the UDC Foundation.
• Improvement of the University’s infrastructure, including implementation of the Campus Master Plan with specific emphasis on a Student Center and a new facility for the David A. Clarke School of Law, and the development of a capital campaign to support that effort.
In applauding those goals, UDC Student Trustee Hortense Brent said, “I maintain an enduring interest in the success of my University and believe Dr. Sessoms will be instrumental in leading us to become a world-class institution of higher learning.”
The Presidential Search and Screening Committee (“PSSC”) was made up of Don Langenberg, UDC Trustee and Committee Chairman; Eugene Kinlow, Alumni Trustee; Kim Keenan, Trustee (replacing former Trustee Kristin Mannion); Hortense Brent, Student Trustee; Rina Daniels, University Student Government Association, President - currently immediate past president; LaVerne Hill-Flanagan, Director of Recruitment and Admissions and Acting Registrar; Shelley Broderick, Dean, University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law; Meredith Rode, Faculty; Lena Walton, Faculty; Sydney Hall, Faculty; Victor Reinoso, Deputy Mayor for Education (Mayor Adrian Fenty’s Representative); and Lorraine Green, AMTRAK Vice President for Human Resources & Diversity Initiatives (Council Chairman Vincent Gray’s Representative).
Council Chairman Gray supported the unprecedented collaborative efforts of the Presidential Search and Screening Committee, stating, “I applaud the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee for conducting a thorough, constructive, exhaustive search for a candidate who comes with an impressive educational background and experience that I am confident will translate into forward-thinking best practices at the University of the District of Columbia. The role that UDC plays in the District’s educational spectrum is vital. I believe the selection of Dr. Sessoms will enhance that role and result in advancements that will put UDC in a position to be even more responsive to the higher education needs of the residents of the District of Columbia.”
Meredith Rode, a faculty member on the search committee, said that, "As many of us came together through this process, I look forward to the coming together of the university community and the community-at-large in support of our new president. For the success of our collective future, we all need to give our collective energy, vision and commitment.”
The PSSC was specifically designed to include all University stakeholders, including for the first time in an unprecedented move, representatives of the Mayor and Council. Because the University’s chance for success is impacted significantly by District support, the Board of Trustees wanted these two branches of the District Government at the table for the entire process so they could offer criteria for the new president as well as have the opportunity to provide names of individuals they thought should be considered for the position. During that process, the PSSC conducted nine open forums in addition to numerous closed sessions with University stakeholder groups, and processed and reached out to over 800 individuals. One main objective was to identify someone with the leadership skills to build upon the University’s foundation and implement the needed changes to move UDC to the next level of excellence.
UDC Chairman Dyke stated, "The Board is thrilled that Dr. Sessoms brings with him a track record of being a successful change agent. That's just what is needed as we take the University to the next level of excellence. Creating change also means shaking things up and dealing with those who do not want change. The Board will be behind Dr. Sessoms one hundred percent as he takes action to make UDC the premier urban land grant University in the nation."
The Board of Trustees also announced that Dr. Sessoms has asked Acting UDC President Stan Jackson to remain part of the University team by assuming the role of Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance. Mr. Jackson has a long history of public service in the District of Columbia, including serving as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. Trustee Chairman Jim Dyke commended Jackson for the outstanding job he did as Acting President during a challenging period. “Stan was superb in moving the University forward, especially with respect to operational improvements. His management experience complements very nicely Dr. Sessoms’ leadership style and together they make a first rate team. I applaud Dr. Sessoms for moving quickly to send a message of both continuity and change.”
In response to the excitement around his appointment, Dr. Sessoms said, “It is with eager excitement that I will join the students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Board of Trustees in taking the University of the District of Columbia to new levels of excellence,” Dr. Sessoms said. “I also look forward to working with all the constituent groups, including the Mayor and City Council, corporations, foundations, the federal government and private individuals to make the University a truly premier urban land grant institution of higher learning.”
On Tuesday, September 9, 2008, Dr. Sessoms will formally meet the students, administration and faculty. He will also have a press conference on the campus (details will be announced). A second event is being planned at the John H. Wilson Building with the Mayor, City Council and the community.
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.