University of District of Columbia (1851- )

Dennard Plaza, University of the District of Columbia, May 12, 2012
Dennard Plaza, University of the District of Columbia, May 12, 2012
Photo by Matthew Bisanz (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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The University of District of Columbia was founded as a school for African American girls in 1851. The school was established by Myrtilla Miner and was initially called the Miner Normal School. In 1879 it became part of the District of Columbia public school system. In 1873 the Washington Normal School was established for white girls in the District. In 1913 it became known as the Wilson Normal School. Both schools were turned into four year teacher colleges by a 1929 act of Congress. The Miner Normal School became Miner Teachers College and the Wilson Normal School was called Wilson Teachers College. In 1955, one year after the Brown v. Board of Education Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the two colleges were combined to become the District of Columbia Teachers College.

For more than a decade the District of Columbia Teachers College was the only public higher education institution in Washington, D.C. As the demand for affordable education grew in the city, so did the institution. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy appointed the Chase Committee to determine the educational needs of the District. Three years later, in 1966, the Public Education Act was passed in response to the committee’s call for other institutions of higher education for the District’s 750,000 residents. That act created Federal City College and Washington Technical Institute. In 1968, both schools opened their doors with Washington Technical Institute receiving accreditation in 1971, followed by Federal City College in 1974.

In 1975 the District of Columbia Teachers College, the Washington Technical Institute and Federal City College were consolidated by Congress to form the University of District of Columbia. The University kept existing educational programs but also expended to offer a broad liberal arts curriculum. Additionally new colleges were established in business and public management, education and human ecology, life sciences and physical science, engineering and technology, and continuing education. The David A. Clarke School of Law is also part of the campus.

Currently, the University of District of Columbia offers 75 academic degrees and has undergraduate and graduate programs as well as a variety of practical and nonacademic educational programs and training. This predominantly black university had a fall 2009 enrollment of 5,371 students.