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SVP President Ronald Mason Jr to step down in 2023

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The president of the University of the District of Columbia, the city’s only public university and community college, will step down in 2023, officials said Thursday.

Ronald Mason Jr. has served as head of the UDC since 2015, making him the school’s longest-serving president since its founding in 1976.

“It was about time,” Mason said in an interview. He arrived at the UDC for a three-year term and will be at the university for eight years when his contract ends next June. “The end of the contract seemed like a good time to think about the next adventure” he said.

Still, the decision to step down as president was not one Mason took lightly, he told campus in a message. When he arrived at the SVP, the school was in crisis. A 2014 audit found that school officials issued student loans that exceeded federal limits and failed to obtain high school transcripts and proof of residency needed for government student aid programs. .

In a city dominated by private universities, the SVP makes its case to the residents of the district: “We are affordable and of high quality”.

The school presented a savings plan that included eliminating nearly two dozen programs and adding majors to better align with district economic priorities. In 2017, city auditors reported that the school had overcome barriers to financial aid, but said the school’s degree offerings were still not aligned with the city’s needs.

Under Mason’s leadership, the school developed programs better suited to the city, he said. After losing its accreditation in 2015, the school’s associate nursing program is now back and fully accredited. SVP also added a cybersecurity degree, more information technology offerings, and secured federal funding for a teacher training institute.

School officials are also developing an early college curriculum at Anacostia High School, Mason said.

“All the pieces are there to take it to the next level,” Mason said. “I think we are becoming more and more attractive. »

During Mason’s tenure, the school’s research spending nearly tripled and at least 100 new faculty members were recruited in the past five years, he said. In December, the university landed its largest private donation, a $2.3 million donation that will fund scholarships.

The school, as part of a six-year capital improvement plan, is also preparing to purchase a building in Congress Heights for its workforce development programs and to expand the community college campus in northeast Washington.

University of the District of Columbia lands record $2.3 million donation

The next step, Mason said, will be to “start connecting the pipeline” between vocational programs, community college and four-year university.

Still, there are challenges. SVP, like other campuses across the country, has faced a drop in enrollment.

During the fall of 2010, UDC enrolled 5,855 students in its undergraduate, graduate, law school, and community college programs, Data university show. Only 4,456 students were enrolled in fall 2019.

Mason said one of the factors affecting enrollment is the DC Tuition Assistance Grant, a program through which students in the district can receive up to $10,000 a year to attend an out-of-town public university or up to $2,500 to attend a private historically black college or university. , or private campus in the Washington metro area.

Enrollment has continued to decline during the pandemic, with UDC reporting 3,953 students in the fall 2020 semester and 3,476 students in the fall of 2021 — with community college being the hardest hit. Nationwide, community college head counts fell nearly 15% between fall 2019 and 2021, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Community colleges in the DC area and beyond are facing an enrollment crisis

But, things could get better. The number of applications, admitted students and registered students has increased from last year, Mason said.

He said he is still weighing his future, but teaching at UDC Law School, where he is a full professor, is an option.

“This is not the end, and certainly not a goodbye,” he told campus in a statement. “We still have a lot of work to do, and I look forward to doing it together, as we always have.”