UDC Terminates Nearly 100 Jobs

Dorothy Rowley | 1/29/2013, 10:37 a.m.

Six weeks after terminating President Allen M. Sessoms' contract without cause, officials at the University of the District of Columbia have confirmed that about 100 other faculty and staff members will lose their jobs in order to trim the school's operating budget.

The 15-member Board of Trustees had been meeting with Sessoms last fall where discussions centered on layoffs in order to save the financially-strapped university $8.5 million year.

Sessoms was fired on Dec. 19, but following talks with the board earlier, he'd indicated that just two dozen employees were slated to receive pink sheets.

"This is a very painful time for our university community," board Chairwoman Elaine A. Crider said in a recent statement. "We realize these actions impact peoples' lives. The university values the contributions of all of our employees; however, these cuts are necessary in order to position the university to better serve its economic and educational mandates to the District of Columbia."

In a vote taken last week by the board, 69 positions were eliminated, according to the statement. Nearly 30 more jobs at the District's only public university are on the chopping block as the result of an administrative shake-up, for which no board action is required.

The university is currently being led by veteran administrator Rachel Petty until an interim president is announced.

At the time of Sessoms' departure, UDC was applying to the Middle States Accrediting agency for branch campus status for its three-year-old community college. Officials reasoned that transitioning the community college to UDC's main campus on Connecticut Avenue would help increase the university's cash flow.

The District of Columbia government supports UDC from taxpayer coffers, but hedged the university's request in November for $4 million in additional funding to pay off severance packages. Part of those funds would have been earmarked for Sessoms' buyout.

In the meantime, UDC's application for community college branch campus status at the building located at 801 North Capitol St. has met approval. However, the university still has to prove its financial stability before the accrediting agency proceeds.