- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

The University of the District of Columbia is spending less than half the national average for instruction and research for its undergraduate students.
The land-grant university spends about $5,023 per student for instruction and research, which amounts to 41.7 percent of its $64 million budget, according to UDC financial records obtained by The Washington Times under the Freedom of Information Act.
The national average is $10,149 per student for instruction and research, according to the U.S. Department of Education, which calculates such spending as accounting for 56.8 percent of the average budget.
In addition, UDC spends $4,668 per student for administration and operation costs, which amounts to 40.3 percent of its budget. The national average is $4,237 per student for such costs, or 20.5 percent of the average budget.
Meanwhile, some of UDC's most popular programs such as the business school have seen funding dwindle, while less successful programs such as the law school and administrative costs have consumed the bulk of UDC budget increases.
During the past four years, UDC's budget has increased about 14 percent, from $56 million in 1999 to $64 million this year. In that time, the publicly funded university has cut spending for its School of Business and Public Administration by about 9 percent, from $3.6 million to $3.3 million. About 30 percent of UDC's 5,300 students are enrolled in the business school.
But the university has nearly doubled its spending on its David A. Clarke School of Law, from $2.4 million in 1999 to $4.4 million this year.
The Times first reported last week that just 22 percent of UDC law students passed the bar on their first try last year, well below the national average of 73 percent. Those figures come from the American Bar Association, which accredits law schools across the country.
In addition, The Times reported that the law school's enrollment has fallen 24 percent, from 168 to 128 students, while the university has doubled its spending on the school and tripled its spending on faculty. The national average for law-school expenditures is $5,687 per student; UDC is spending $11,043.
The university's spending priorities conflict with 1997 recommendations by the now-defunct D.C. financial control board. The control board, appointed by Congress to steer the city through a financial crisis in the 1990s, recommended the university devote its resources to serving the largest number of D.C. residents by improving programs such as the business school that are necessary for students to get better jobs.
William Pollard, who became the university president in July, said he has not thoroughly reviewed the budget, but acknowledged that some adjustments must be made.
Mr. Pollard said he has not yet identified which programs need more or fewer resources. He said he has made some administrative changes, but has not been able to determine whether administrative costs can be reduced.
"I intend to use all of my skills and personnel to strategically determine what are the most important needs of the university," he said, adding that he will evaluate all personnel to ensure everyone at the university is an asset. "I will assure you, we will use everything we have to make sure we get the biggest bang for our buck."
UDC employees and faculty said they believe that Mr. Pollard will make needed changes. "He is in a heavy-duty learning curve. He's getting up to speed," a faculty member said. "When he sees incompetence, he roots it out."
University officials have long been criticized for mismanagement and overspending. Audits in 2000 and 2001 show little if any improvement in management.
Auditors found that the university has no management plan and few financial controls, which prevents UDC officials from keeping track of funds.
The auditors also found that UDC managers violated several contracting and grant laws.
The auditors recommended that UDC improve its internal computer system, but obsolete computers are still being used.
Moreover, some classes are conducted in dirty, crowded rooms, while other departments have excessive classroom space.
For example, the business school occupies parts of two floors in a converted bank building at Connecticut Avenue and Yuma Street NW. All classroom spaces are filled to capacity.
The worn-out carpeting is stained and torn, the walls need a fresh coat of paint and the ventilation system needs repair.
But space in the building that houses the Department of Engineering and Applied Sciences is so abundant that the school's dean, Ben O. Latigo, has converted some classrooms for his office. Classroom 42/211 has become a kitchenette adjoining his suite of offices. A sign on the classroom door says classes held there have been moved.
"Instead of using the money to fix up the classrooms, they are building palatial offices," said a faculty member who asked not to be identified. "They have to start spending for our students, not for themselves and their pet programs."

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