Welcome to the University of the District of Columbia—an exciting place to study and to grow intellectually and socially. We strive to offer our students the finest learning environment led by faculty whose first priority is teaching. Whether undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time, our students receive personal attention from faculty and experience academic programs that are consistent with the finest of liberal, professional, applied, clinical, workforce development, continuing, and life-learning.
The University’s mission is to educate students for rewarding careers, responsible citizenship, and fulfilling lives. As the only exclusively public Historically Black Urban Land-grant University in the United States, we have a unique educational purpose based on the merging of our predecessor institutions to educate citizens of the District of Columbia, the region, and the world.
Yet, we find ourselves educating students in one of the most unprecedented and uncertain times facing this world—a 21st-century crisis known as COVID-19. In the midst of it all, we remain vigilant and deliberative as a Firebird nation rising to serve our students, employees, and the general welfare of our community.
For every year that you aspire to be better, every year that you prepare yourself for the future, every year that there is work to do and you are willing to do, it is a promising year. During the recent pandemic, as I watched colleagues, family, friends, and neighbors suffer monumental loss; as I contemplated the many ways in which our life circumstances can change in an instant; as I reflected on the gratitude I feel for the straightforward gifts in life, my attention turned to all of you who, at this moment, are preparing for the uncertainties that you will face throughout your lives as UDC students—Firebirds for life! In thinking about the miraculous ways in which my own education has helped me achieve the personal fortitude needed to regain one’s equilibrium in moments of crisis, I felt deeply grateful to be in a position to support you in your educational journey.
Your education can assure you of the equilibrium that keeps you strong when unexpected setbacks cause you to doubt yourself and your future. Your self-confidence will be tested repeatedly throughout your life in ways you cannot now imagine: in the workplace, in your peer group, even in your family life. If you have practiced informed personal reflection, drawn benefit from the information and guidance offered by faculty, and been an active participant in creating a capacious intellectual home from which you can view the world and its phenomena, you will be on your way to building on and sustaining that equilibrium and creating the wisdom that underpins it. No one is born wise; one gains understanding from attentiveness to knowledge and experience, thoughtful and respectful interaction with others, and the willingness to heed insights gained from the march of time. I cannot promise that you will be wise upon graduation from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). Still, I can promise you that if you take to heart and nurture the insights that become manifest over your time here, you will be borne through life as on a magic balance beam on which you may teeter from time to time but from which you will repeatedly descend, maintaining your balance.
There is one final word with which I want to leave you. I am pleased and grateful to be here with you, and I am proud to serve as your Chief Academic Officer. To be a part of the powerful legacy that UDC represents is an awesome privilege for me.
You will, for the rest of your lives, answer questions about this moment in your lives. What was it like to experience COVID-19? How did you react to unfolding events? When your children ask, be able to say that you stepped forward to comfort the discouraged; you stepped forward to serve your communities; you stepped forward to make sure that your education meant more than a yellowing degree hanging on your wall. So, go to work and make your education represent something more meaningful and powerful to put to use beyond you. As the Chief Academic Officer, I believe all of our UDC Firebirds, regardless of race, financial, or social station in life, circumstance, or background, can ASPIRE. ACCOMPLISH. TAKE ON THE WORLD.
Onward and upward!
Lawrence T. Potter, Jr., Ph.D.
Chief Academic Officer/Provost & Professor