Historical Background

The University of the District of Columbia is an urban land grant institution and a Historically Black College and University. Our purpose is to serve a diverse student body, residents and other stakeholders of the District of Columbia and the surrounding metropolitan area.

The foundation institution was established by Myrtilla Miner in 1851 as a “school for colored girls” known as the Miner Normal School. The school joined the City’s public-school system in 1879 and the Washington Normal School (named changed in 1913 to Wilson) for white girls was established. In 1929, each school was converted to four-year teacher colleges. After Brown vs the Board of Education the two colleges were merged to create the District of Columbia Teachers College. However, this limited the availability of other areas of study beyond teaching. In 1963, President Kennedy established the Chase Commission to determine if there was a need for a more comprehensive source of affordable higher education for the residents of the District. This led to the opening of Federal City College, a liberal arts institution, and Washington Technical. Congress granted the District of Columbia home rule in 1973, which means the people could elect their own mayor and city council to govern the city to some extent. In 1975, the City Council voted to merge the three schools and created the University of the District of Columbia.

The latest US census shows the District of Columbia (DC) (2014) with 658,893 residents, 35.8 % are white alone, not Hispanic or Latino, 49.0% are Black or African American, 10.1% are Hispanic or Latino, 3.9% are Asian alone, 2.6% consist of two or more races, 0.6% are Native American and Alaska Native and 0.1% are Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander alone. Minorities make-up 66.8% of the residents in the District of Columbia.  A total of 13.8% of the residents are foreign born.

University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Mission Statement

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.

School of Business & Public Administration (SBPA) Mission Statement

We provide educational programs that prepare students to become strategic. Innovative and ethical leaders with a community and global perspective.

Master of Public Administration (MPA) Mission Statement

The mission of the University of the District of Columbia’s (UDC) Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is to prepare effective and ethical leaders with strong managerial skills who can build strategies to help shape policies that will meet the diverse demanding challenges in the government and nonprofit sector in the 21st century.

Definition of Diversity for the SBPA

The SBPA believes the valuing of diversity is the cornerstone of preparing and engaging students to embrace a multicultural world. Our definition of diversity includes but is not limited to, age, color, ethnicity, gender, religion, disabilities, social-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationalities and cultures. We understand the value of diversity in the educational environment by attracting and retaining a diverse faculty, staff, and students.  We challenge stereotypes, promote sensitivity and inclusion and value personal uniqueness and differences.  We encourage dialogue between all constituents about how people with different backgrounds, ideas, and beliefs work, live, and co-exist. Diversity brings about opportunities that enrich the discussions inside and outside the classroom.

Faculty:

The current MPA faculty is diverse and representative of our MPA student body. The nucleus faculty consists of 4 members, (one African American male born in Cameroon, one African-American woman, one female half Latino, half English, and one white male). The two full-time SBPA faculty members, we share with the MBA program, are one African American female and one white male. The adjuncts are both African American males.

However, even though our faculty has been stable for the last three years, the school must prepare for the future including – the growth of our student body and faculty moving on or retiring. We will take a recommendation from our colleagues at the University of New Orleans and proactively reach out to recently graduated minority Ph.D. alumni offering them the opportunity to continue their research in their area of interest and to share their knowledge and serve as role models to students of color. Our tight knit MPA faculty will serve as mentors to our junior faculty members.

Student Body:

As already mentioned, we are the public Land Grant University of the District of Columbia and a designated HBCU. We were created to serve the underrepresented populations of DC and welcome students from throughout the Washington Metro area. Currently, ninety percent the MPA student body comes from the Washington Metro Area and consists of 62% African American, 10% Caucasian, 10% Hispanic, and 10% Asian and Native American individuals. It is our mission to continue “to prepare effective and ethical leaders with strong managerial skills that build strategies to help shape policies that meet diverse demanding challenges”. Ninety percent of our student body comes from the Washington Metro area.

Student Recruiting:

The MPA coordinator and faculty work closely with UDC’s Graduate Admissions Office to design recruiting events and market the program through partnerships with local and federal government agencies and nonprofit member associations. We recruit from the entire Washington metro area; however, we target area HBCU undergraduate programs for the distribution of flyers or postcards. Our flyers, postcards and website reflect our student body composition. Faculty members are encouraged to stay abreast of the latest trends in public service administration to attract the working public service professional. The office of Graduate Studies and the MPA coordinator works closely with Graduate Admissions following up on incomplete applications and contacting the students requesting them to send whatever information is missing from their packets. Once application packets are complete, they are reviewed by MPA faculty and the MPA Coordinator who informs the Graduate Studies director the status of each application. Those approved are sent to the Registrar’s Office for final paperwork and approval letters. In June, all new graduate students and returning graduate students receive a letter of welcome to SBPA and their particular program. This also serves as an invitation to orientation for the upcoming academic year. Returning students are invited to refresh and reconnect with faculty and fellow students and help welcome the new students. Faculty members follows up any inquiry by answering questions, offering to take the student on a campus tour, and are available for advising

Inclusion:

The MPA provides a community that embraces the climate of inclusion, a place of belonging and value, where our students are encouraged to exercise their voice to engage in spirited discussions that inspires them to express diverse views.  The orientation is the beginning of building an MPA student community. The orientation consists of the 3 parts –

  • Part I is the welcome for the new students which includes: a campus tour, overview of courses, introduction to faculty, distribution of the Graduate Resource Guide and campus resources such as UDC’s, GSGA and other organizations, financial aid, disability services and counseling.
  • Part II – is the strengthening and reconnection of returning students to their MPA community. This begins the last week of July, with a letter to the returning students from the MPA Coordinator welcoming them back and providing a review of upcoming plans for the year. More news and information is provided through social media, LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter generating excitement and eagerness about their second year in the MPA program.
  • Part III – at the beginning of each semester a reception for new students, returning students, faculty and administration. This reception is an opportunity for new students to interact with each other, returning MPA students, and faculty in an informal social setting. It is held on campus to make it convenient for faculty and students.

Another vehicle for building the MPA community is hosting a series of annual events that provides opportunities for establishing trust and developing relationships. In Spring 2016, a closing celebration was held with all of the graduate students.  One of the ideas they recommended was to establish an annual calendar of events and to make participation mandatory. Two or three of the returning MPA students will work with the MPA coordinator and faculty to plan this calendar beginning with the Graduate Orientation. These events consist of activities such as a community service project concluding with a cookout in Rock Creek Park or a general assembly session with a panel of professionals presenting on topics relevant to all of the graduate students. These are two of the suggestions our graduate students proposed at our closing event last semester. (See appendix)

In the classroom, faculty invite guest speakers with diverse profiles, experiences and backgrounds and providing opportunities to be exposed to different environments. Students from other countries are encouraged to share their experiences in classroom discussions.

Throughout their time as students, we encourage student to engage in hands-on learning experiences throughout the District. Our diverse student body then connects with our diverse region. Our advisors seek opportunities to assist students through the sometimes-challenging aspects of working with people from different racial, social and cultural backgrounds.

The Public Administration program is a member of the National Forum for Black Administrators (NFBPA). Our MPA students attend their monthly board meetings and one MPA student received the 2015scholarship toward his studies.

We are a diverse institution that celebrates and values uniqueness. Our mission is to “educate competent graduate students to provide the Washington metropolitan area federal and local government agencies at the city, county, and state levels, nonprofit organizations, and beyond, with competent, knowledgeable and ethical leaders able to communicate with diverse employees and manage programs.”