January marked a milestone on the path toward independence for D.C.’s community college. Last month, the University of the District of Columbia’s (UDC’s) accrediting body granted the community college “branch campus” status. As a branch campus of UDC, the community college will have more authority over its own budget, faculty, and staff.
An advisory board that I recently chaired was tasked with developing a plan for the community college to operate independently of UDC. The first step we recommended—for UDC to pursue branch campus status for the community college in Fiscal Year 2013—has been accomplished.
A strong D.C. community college is essential to helping our residents prepare for jobs and further college education. Community colleges play this role across the country by:
- Providing open admissions and affordable tuition rates;
- Offering courses to help students get the academic skills necessary to succeed at the college level;
- and Providing both career-specific and academic education leading to recognized certificates and associate degrees.
The Mayor, the D.C. Council, and the UDC Board recognize that the community college’s mission is distinct from a university’s. And they are all committed to making the community college independent of UDC.
They also recognize that the next step is to move the community college from branch campus status to separate accreditation. Separate accreditation will provide a framework for the community college to independently carry out its special mission.
The D.C. Council has scheduled an oversight hearing for UDC and the community college in March. This will be an opportunity for the public to learn how UDC plans to provide the community college with the financial and administrative independence required to achieve separate accreditation, and how the District government can support that effort.