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Mayor Bowser Celebrates New School Year at UDC with Ribbon Cutting for the Renovated Bertie Backus Auditorium

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser celebrated the start of the University of the District of Columbia Community College’s (UDC-CC) 2017-2018 school year at a ribbon-cutting for the recently renovated Bertie Backus Auditorium. The Bertie Backus Auditorium represents the latest project in a multi-phase renovation of classrooms, labs, offices, and support spaces that began in 2010. The Mayor was joined at the ribbon cutting by UDC President Ronald Mason, Jr., Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, and community members.

“By making critical investments in the University of the District of Columbia and the UDC Community College, we are opening doors of opportunity for District residents and getting more Washingtonians on pathways to the middle class,” said Mayor Bowser. “Spreading prosperity means ensuring more DC residents are prepared to participate in the District’s thriving economy and UDC is helping us do just that.”

The restoration of the Bertie Backus Auditorium included:

  • new finishes and seating,
  • high-efficiency heating and cooling systems with sound attenuation to reduce ambient noise,
  • additional sound attenuating elements in the exterior walls,
  • upgraded electric distribution and lighting systems as well as new audio visual systems with an automatic projection screen and HD projector; and
  • seats equipped with fold-away desktops.

“The Mayor’s commitment to public education in the District is commendable,” said UDC President Ronald Mason, Jr. “This facility, and increased investment in UDC, is visible evidence that public higher education is an essential component of the pathway to the middle class.”

Since 2015, Mayor Bowser has made critical investments in the University of District of Columbia and the UDC Community College, including a recurring $5.7 million investment in UDC and UDC-CC that will allow the school to do more to address the needs of students, faculty, and staff and $50.5 million to stabilize UDC facilities and ensure students have access to the latest technological resources.

Additionally, last year, the Mayor announced the District of Columbia University Partnership (DC-UP), which provides scholarships at various levels for DC Public Schools and DC public charter school students, including full four-year scholarships and housing stipends for valedictorians and salutatorians. Currently, 42 DC-UP scholars are enrolled at UDC-CC and 60 are enrolled at UDC, a total of 102 DC residents – more than triple the 30 DC-UP scholars enrolled last year. In February, the Mayor and UDC also announced the UDC Workforce Edge (UDC-WE) partnership, a dual-track Community College program that provides adult learners enrolled in DC public charter high schools with the opportunity to learn valuable workforce training skills while earning a high school diploma or GED.

Mayor Bowser also championed and signed into law the UDC Dream Amendment Act of 2016, allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition and receive local financial aid for attendance at any school or campus within the UDC system, regardless of federal immigration status.

The UDC-CC Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning Division’s mission is to reduce unemployment and underemployment in the District of Columbia by enhancing the skills of DC residents. The Division pursues this mission by offering courses at no cost to DC residents in high-demand, high-wage industries that are hiring in the Washington, DC Metropolitan region. Unlike any other job training provider in the city, being a part of the University allows students to gain stackable credentials through credit and non-credit programs that are rigorous and meet the requirements of local employers. The Backus campus is currently home to UDC-CC’s practical nursing, nursing assistant, and home health aide programs and the architectural engineering, fashion merchandising, and construction management degree programs.