The University of the District of Columbia is historic and modern, all at the same time. Public higher education in the District originated in 1851 when Myrtilla Miner founded a “school for colored girls” in Washington, DC. In 1879, Miner Normal School joined the DC public school system. Similarly, Washington Normal School was established in 1873, as a school for white girls. The latter institution was renamed Wilson Normal School in 1913, after James O. Wilson, Washington’s first superintendent of public schools. In 1929, Congress enacted a statute that converted both normal schools into four-year teacher’s colleges. For several years, Miner Teachers’ College and Wilson Teacher’s College were the only institutions of public higher education in the city. After the landmark U.S. Supreme Court school desegregation decision, Brown v. Board of Education (U.S. 1954), the two colleges merged in 1955 to form the District of Columbia Teacher’s College. Over the next decade, D.C. residents petitioned for an expansion of higher education that would provide training for careers other than teaching. In 1966, Congress enacted the District of Columbia Public Education Act, which established Federal City College and Washington Technical Institute.
Although these schools were still very new, many Washingtonians continued to advocate for a comprehensive university. The City Council authorized the consolidation of the three schools, and in 1976, began the monumental task of creating a new University of the District of Columbia. In 1977, under President Carter’s leadership, UDC began consolidating its academic programs. These efforts culminated in the establishment of five colleges: Business and Public Management; Education and Human Ecology; Liberal and Fine Arts; Life Sciences; Physical Science, Engineering, and Technology; and University College and Continuing Education.
UDC continues to transform itself over time to meet the changing needs of its students and the community. The University currently offers 81 undergraduate and graduate academic degree programs through the following colleges and schools: College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES); College of Arts and Sciences (CAS); School of Business and Public Administration (SBPA); School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS); the Community College and David A. Clarke School of Law.
The University of the District of Columbia is a pacesetter in urban education that offers affordable and effective undergraduate, graduate, professional, and workplace learning opportunities. The institution is the premier gateway to postsecondary education and research for all residents of the District of Columbia. As a public, historically black, and land-grant institution, the University’s responsibility is to build a diverse generation of competitive, civically engaged scholars and leaders.
To be a University System that is student centered and demand driven that empowers its graduates to be critical and creative thinkers, problem solvers, effective communicators, and engaged, service-driven leaders in the workforce and beyond.