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Reaction to Davis tuition bill mixed, effect on UDC debated

(Published February 8, 1999)

Julius Nimmons, president of the University of the District of Columbia, told D.C. City Council Jan. 29 that he "isnít overly concerned about the impact" on the university of a congressional proposal that would qualify D.C. residents for in-state tuition rates at any of the nationís state universities. The bill calls for the federal government to pay the states the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition.

Testifying before the Committee on Education, Libraries and Parks, Nimmons said the legislation proposed by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, R-Va., would not distract the university from its plans for growth.

Nimmons comments contrasted sharply with UDC students who testified at the same hearing in opposition to the Davis bill. UDC student Darrell Williams called the Davis bill "disastrous" for the university.

Committee Chairman Kevin P. Chavous, D-Ward 7, said he generally likes Davisí idea and added he would like to see the bill expanded to include a reciprocal arrangement to allow any resident of the 50 states to attend UDC at the same tuition rates paid by D.C. residents.

Also during the hearing, Chavous questioned Nimmons about the cost of rehiring 28 faculty members who were fired from the university under the direction of the control board. The teachers subsequently filed and won a lawsuit claiming wrongful termination. Nimmons estimated the cost of the settlement, including severance pay, benefits and back wages, at $18 million.

When Chavous asked where that money would come from, Nimmons said, "Thatís the control authorityís problem."

Nimmons assured Chavous that any additional funds granted to UDC by the council would be used for program improvements, not to settle the lawsuit. He said he is working with acting chief financial officer Earl Cabbell and the control board to find the funds.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator