- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The University of the District of Columbia had no information yesterday about how much money was raised or how many fund-raising events were held at the president’s renovated mansion, which has received $215,000 in upgrades while academic halls have deteriorated.

The statement came sixdays after President William L. Pollard told The Washington Times the renovations were needed to make the university residence more presentable for entertaining potential donors.

University spokesman Mike Andrews yesterday said Mr. Pollard’s fund-raising efforts are now in the “quiet phase” while he develops relationships with potential donors. Mr. Andrews said receptions have been held at housesince the renovations last year but could provide no dates or other details.

“I know there has been funds raised since Dr. Pollard came here,” he said. “But I cannot tell you how much or how much was raised as a result of using the university residence.”

Mr. Pollard also has faced criticism this year from faculty, students and the D.C. Council about spending priorities and about the people he has hired for high-paying jobs. The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance is investigating whether Mr. Pollard violated ethics rules in hiring a family friend as the school’s provost.

Mr. Pollard declined to be interviewed for this story.

Rosemary Cribben, president of the UDC Foundation, the university’s fund-raising organization, also was unaware of fund-raising events at the home, in the 3500 block of Rittenhouse Street NW, since the renovations were completed in December.

Miss Cribben said she did not know about every small gathering or meeting between Mr. Pollard and donors. But she said Mr. Pollard was “totally” involved in fund-raising efforts, including the UDC gala at the City Museum on Sept. 30.

The Times reported Saturday that the school spent $79,225 on exterior repairs and $136,748 on interior renovations at the 4,863-square-foot house, which has four bedrooms, three full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms.

The renovation project also included bills of roughly $90,000 for granite and marble countertops, $47,000 for a roof, $2,099 for a 52-inch Sony projection TV, $900 for a Bose home-theater system, $24,907 for Ethan Allen furniture and $24,090 to replace carpets, according to UDC purchasing records obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

The university also paid $40,000 to remove wallpaper and paint.

University officials said the 23-year-old home had a collapsing roof, broken sidewalks, worn electrical wiring, rotted carpeting and peeling wallpaper.

However, some longtime faculty members disagreed with the university’s assessment that the house was deteriorating, saying President Julius Nimmons lived there and had renovations done before leaving the school in June 2001.

Timothy L. Jenkins, who served as interim UDC president before Mr. Pollard’s arrival a little more than a year ago, did not live in the house but used it frequently for meetings and seminars.

“They are trying to give you the impression the house is an eyesore, but it wasn’t,” said a faculty member who was inside the house in the spring of 2002, just months before Mr. Pollard arrived at UDC.

“There was no roof falling in,” said the faculty member, who asked not to be identified. “The wallpaper was fine. It wasn’t peeling and cracking. It wasn’t a ghetto. The place was not shabby. It always had maid service, even when nobody was living there. … We used it right up to the moment they started renovating it.”

In response, Mr. Andrews questioned whether faculty members were capable of assessing the condition of the property.

“Our facilities people did an assessment of the physical conditions of the residence and told us the work was necessary,” he said. “I don’t know if the [needed] repairs would be readily visible to the casual observer.”

Meanwhile, faculty and students are questioning how Mr. Pollard could justify the expenditures when the cash-strapped school has classrooms that lack basic supplies and academic halls that are in disrepair.

“How can he have the money to spend on [his house] when we don’t have a printer in our computer lab?” asked Yaya Akar, 23, a business and computer-science major.

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