Monday, November 8, 2010

Community Meeting Addresses UDC Campus Growth

Tonight, more than 40 University of the District of Columbia (UDC) representatives and community stakeholders participated in an open house to discuss the school's future growth.

"We want this to be the community's university," UDC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Graeme Baxter said.

The university is in the process of drafting its first master plan, which university officials expect will be completed by Spring 2011. While the university is looking at the development of the broader campus map, the immediate process is being driven by plans to construct a student center starting in Fall 2011. The university is evaluating where the student center will be located on campus and is considering community input alongside city government recommendations and requirements.

"We want to truly understand what the community's interests are, because they can contribute to campus life and vice versa," said Doug McCoach, an architect and developer who led the open house meeting and is currently working on UDC’s first master plan.

Tonight's meeting sought neighborhood residents' input on community participation, campus growth, campus character, sustainability, and transportation issues. Area residents urged greater communication between the university and the community -- such as installing a marque or electronic signage near the university's entrance to advertise school events -- and sought increased access to the university's library, meeting spaces, and athletic facilities. More than one resident encouraged the university to continue its weekly farmers' market.

Community members also advocated for any growth plans to maximize pedestrian safety by limiting the need for students and faculty to cross Connecticut Avenue and encouraged the university to adopt LEED gold or platinum standards rather than silver, which is currently required by law.

Residents voiced some concerns over costs associated with the university's growth. Provost Baxter responded that the proposed student center is already funded, and the university is also required by law to balance its budget each year.

Several residents also expressed a desire for more concrete information on development plans from the university. Residents asked for more details on the proposed design of the student center as well as additional information on student housing. In addition to the student center, UDC is also considering construction of an on-campus residence with 400 units.

UDC will hold its next community meeting in the Campus Auditorium, Building 46 East, on Wednesday, December 8. In the meantime, area residents can offer their feedback to Steve McKenzie at 202-274-5624 or Thomas Redmond at 202-274-5622.

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