by Marlene Berlin
NBC4’s Mark Segraves reported last week that UDC could move its community college from its downtown campus to Van Ness. That’s not the only potential outcome, however.
What is clear is that UDC’s community college cannot afford to stay at its headquarters at 801 North Capitol Street NW, which it moved into just five years ago. It’s paying about $5 million per year in rent. After two years of putting off the decision, the Operations Committee of the UDC Board of Trustees finally decided to take action. So on Tuesday, February 10th, it voted to recommend that the community college relocate these offices and programs to another university property and try to sublease the space. (You can listen to the meeting here.)
Barbara Jumper, UDC’s vice president of facilities and real estate, estimated that it will take 18-24 months to make the move. As for where, that is yet to be definitively decided. But UDC has an option other than Van Ness.
UDC-CC has another campus at Bertie Backus Middle School at 5171 South Dakota Avenue NE. This one houses some of the college’s nursing, architectural engineering, fashion merchandising and construction management degree programs. At the meeting, Jumper confirmed that with these renovations, Bertie Backus would have the square footage to accommodate a move.
The committee did discuss moving 100 percent of the community college offices and programs at 801 North Capitol to Van Ness Campus Building 44, which currently houses the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Studies (CAUSES), as well as other programs, but some members weren’t sure UDC would be able to realize any cost savings from such a move. They talked about the upgrades that would be needed to that building to accommodate programs of the community college. There’s also the cost involved in moving the existing programs from Building 44.
Sabine O’Hara, the dean of CAUSES, told Forest Hills Connection that the university has made significant upgrades to Building 44 over the past three years to support the academic and community outreach programs housed there now. This includes new architecture studios, a state-of-the-art environmental testing lab, a kitchen suite that will serve as teaching facility and business incubator, and the region’s largest food-producing green roof.
“Given these significant investments on the Van Ness campus,” O’Hara said, “I am sure that the Board of Trustees will carefully weigh the costs and benefits associated with a potential displacement of its land-grant college.”
The administration was tasked with gathering input from appropriate stakeholders, including students, about where the community college programs should be moved, and to get it done before the full Board of Trustees takes this up at its April meeting.