President Edington Remarks, 2023 New Student Orientation

President Edington Remarks, 2023 New Student Orientation

President Edington Remarks, 2023 New Student Orientation

President Maurice D. Edington speaking at UDC's 2023 Fall Orientation.

Prepared Remarks

Friday, August 18, and Saturday, August 19, 2023
UDC Theater of the Arts

Good morning. I am Dr. Maurice Edington, President of the University of the District of Columbia. It is truly an honor to welcome you and your family members to UDC.

As some of you may know, I am also new to the University. I began my tenure as UDC President earlier this month, after spending more than two decades as a professor and administrator at Florida A&M University.

I have to say it’s a pretty big change moving from one school to another: You say goodbye to longtime friends and colleagues. Trade out your old school colors for new ones. And say hello to a new campus and a new mascot.

You and I are now Firebirds. And in my first few weeks on campus, I’ve learned there is a rallying call

that goes along with this mascot. It goes a little something like this: When I say, “What’s the word?” you say, “Firebird!” Let’s give it a try.

[EDINGTON] What’s the word?

[STUDENTS] Firebird!

[EDINGTON] What’s the word?

[STUDENTS] Firebird!

That was pretty good, but I think we can do even better. Let’s try getting on our feet.

[Students stand up]

[EDINGTON] What’s the word?

[STUDENTS] Firebird!

[EDINGTON] What’s the word?

[STUDENTS] Firebird!

Alright, that’s more like it! You’re welcome to take your seat.

[Students sit down]

So, we’ve had a little breakfast, we’ve had the chance to stand up and stretch, and we’ve exercised our vocal cords. Now, I think it’s time for me to share a story with you.

I’d like to tell you a bit about a man named Michael Marshall.

Michael grew up in Northeast DC, and Prince George’s County, Maryland, the son of former sharecroppers who had moved from southern Virginia to the District during the Great Migration. His father was a bus driver for DC Public Schools, and his mother cleaned houses by day and worked as a janitor at night.

At a young age, Michael had two formative experiences that ultimately set him on his own career path.

It was 1968. That spring, Michael and his family members witnessed the destruction of their beloved Washington, DC, when it was severely damaged in the civil unrest that followed the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What Michael—then 11 years old—saw as his family drove along the H Street, U Street and 14th Street corridors, he says, “would never leave” him.

Not long afterward, one of Michael’s friends, whose dad was a carpenter, showed him a set of blueprints from one of his father’s projects. Michael, who had long loved to draw, decided at that moment to pursue a career in architecture—with the goal of “participating in the rebuilding and renaissance” of his city.

To follow that path, he knew he’d eventually need higher education.

While working at a car dealership after high school, Michael heard a radio ad for an architecture program at Washington Technical Institute. The two-year program was run by practicing engineers and architects who offered hands-on, practical training. Michael enrolled at the school, one of three institutions then in the process of consolidating to become the University of the District of Columbia.

In 1977, Michael graduated, and parlayed his UDC associate’s degree into a bachelor’s program in architecture at Catholic University on scholarship. A few years later, he followed that up with a master’s in architecture from Yale University. (UDC, by the way, now has both a bachelor’s and master’s program in architecture.)

In 1989, Michael founded his own design firm in DC. His projects over the past three decades have demonstrated that he is making good on his commitment to the District. His portfolio includes the Howard Theatre, the Chuck Brown Memorial, the D.C. Entertainment and Sports Arena, Audi Field, a new center for the nonprofit Bread for the City, and several educational facilities, including the Student Center here at UDC.

Though Michael graduated from UDC in the 1970s, he never really left. He taught drawing classes for the University after graduation and returned in the 1990s to resume teaching. Several years ago, he gave back to his alma mater yet again as the associate architect on the Student Center, a striking building he described as “arms spread open to welcome” the campus community.

Michael’s vision—an 83,000-square foot LEED Platinum-certified building—opened in 2016. It features a fitness center, a stunning atrium, a student lounge, a meditation garden, student government offices, study spaces and dining facilities.

It’s called the Student Center, and it bears that name for a reason: It’s designed to serve you, the students.

In fact, the entire University of the District of Columbia—with all its campuses and programs—is designed to serve you, because you—the students—are the lifeblood of the University.

There is no UDC without YOU.

Michael Marshall’s story exemplifies what UDC is all about—providing pathways for students to pursue their passions and serve their community.

Whether that’s as a nursing assistant, an early childhood educator, a graphic designer or an attorney, whether you’re a first-year student or a transfer student, whether you’re fresh out of high school or continuing your education as an older adult, whether you grew up in DC or you’re an international student, UDC is here to serve you.

It’s part of our mission to serve the needs of the D.C. community, producing lifelong learners who are transformative leaders in the workforce, government, nonprofit sectors and beyond. But we don’t just want you to enroll in one of our many programs.

We want you to have the best experience possible.

That means providing you with support services like academic advising and financial aid counseling. It means connecting you with Student Life and our many campus events, from Spirit Wednesdays to Homecoming.

It means staying in close communication with you as you move toward program completion, and encouraging you to explore your next steps in higher education–whether that’s moving seamlessly from an associate’s degree program to a bachelor’s program, or pursuing a Ph.D.

As the UDC Student Center was being constructed several years ago, Michael Marshall shared a few words about the project.

“We need to come back and give back. The University needs us,” he said. “We need to give back with our talents, our services, our knowledge. We need to be here.”

There is perhaps no greater testament to the impact of an institution than the commitment and support of its alumni. I hope that in the coming weeks, months and years, we earn your trust and support by making a sustaining, positive impact in your own lives.

Thank you, and may this day be the start of a new journey, as you pursue your passion and ultimately serve your community.

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