- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2003

D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty noted several repairs of facilities during a tour of the University of the District of Columbia yesterday but also found many maintenance problems lingering since he alerted school officials to the dilapidated conditions six weeks ago.

Mr. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, had pointed out dozens of maintenance problems to university officials when he toured the campus Aug. 20, and the officials promised to make repairs quickly.

But Mr. Fenty yesterday found bathrooms in the Accounting, Finance and Economics Department still in substandard condition and carpeting throughout the building still stained and tattered. School administrators had promised to renovate the bathrooms and replace the carpet by last month.

“That’s supposed to be done,” Mr. Fenty said.

The tour was led by Terrence Boykin, vice president of the UDC graduate student body, and preceded a “town hall” meeting called by student leaders to discuss the state of the land-grant university with D.C. Council members. Mr. Fenty and Kevin P. Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat and chairman of the education committee, attended the meeting.

No UDC official, including school President William L. Pollard, accompanied Mr. Fenty on the tour yesterday. Instead, the school administration sent a campus police officer to escort him around campus.

Mr. Pollard also was absent from Mr. Fenty’s visit in August, but four administration officials attended in his place.

Mr. Fenty said he would keep returning to the campus to make sure the school administration carries out the maintenance that has been long ignored.

“That’s the kind of oversight they need,” Mr. Fenty said. “I hope Mr. Pollard can make a complete turnaround from what we have seen so far.”

In his first year at the school, Mr. Pollard has been criticized for excessive spending and hiring of family friends, including Wilhelmina M. Reuben-Cooke, to high-level administrative positions. The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance is investigating whether Mr. Pollard violated standards of conduct for public officials in hiring her.

Other problems noted by Mr. Fenty in August but still not fixed yesterday included collapsed ceiling tiles in the basement of the business building, inoperable elevators, broken steps at the amphitheater and water damage to the roof and ceiling of the student-services building.

The escalator in that building, which has been broken for more than six months, now bears a sign: “Pardon the inconvenience, escalators will be repaired by spring 2004.”

Some repairs Mr. Fenty called for in August have been competed. The university patched a hole in a hallway wall and covered exposed wiring in the business building, restored the crumbling concrete stairs by the gymnasium, and replaced a broken water fountain in the Engineering and Applied Sciences Department.

Still, Mr. Fenty said it seemed as if minor and major maintenance issues would have been ignored without pressure from a council member.

“There was a real laissez-faire attitude toward fixing the problems,” he said.

Students invited Mr. Fenty to tour the campus in August after The Washington Times reported that classrooms, libraries and other buildings had fallen into a state of disrepair at the District’s only public institution of higher education.

The deterioration of UDC’s buildings adds to the long-standing troubles of the land-grant university, which in past years has been beset by financial mismanagement, poor academic performance and accreditation concerns.

Mr. Fenty said yesterday that he was surprised no one from the school administration accompany him.

“There is no reason why they shouldn’t be here,” Mr. Fenty said. “There’s no question about that.”

He was especially disappointed that Mr. Pollard did not attend. “He has to see this stuff,” he said. “I’ll just find out when he is available.”

Susan Saunders, UDC director of government affairs, attended in Mr. Pollard’s place in August and said short notice and a scheduling mixup prevented the president from attending.

This time, Mr. Fenty said he confirmed his visit with the administration on Monday.

Miss Saunders declined comment when contacted after yesterday’s tour and asked why no administration officials accompanied Mr. Fenty.

Pollard spokesman Mike Andrews said he was unaware of Mr. Fenty’s scheduled visit.

“You are catching me completely off guard,” Mr. Andrews said. “I would imagine the president knew about it. But then again, I don’t know.”

Mr. Andrews checked the president’s schedule and said Mr. Pollard was “tied up all afternoon.”

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