Mission Accomplished?

Back in 2009 the District of Columbia decided that it needed an independent community college. For years the chronically dysfunctional University of the District of Columbia had run several two-year vocational programs but critics thought it would be best to create a separate institution. In the course of a few years the community college would be fully independent.

UDC hired longtime community college administrator Jonathan Gueverra to make that happen. Well let’s hope he was reasonably successful because he’s already leaving DC. According to an article by Daniel de Vise in the Washington Post:

Gueverra, chief executive of the University of the District of Columbia Community College, has been named president of the Florida Keys Community College, that school announced Monday. Alan Etter, UDC spokesman, confirmed Gueverra’s departure but said his institution had not been officially informed. Gueverra did not immediately reply to an e-mail.

UDC President Allen Sessoms created the separate community college three years ago as a defining move in his attempt to remake UDC as a separate two-year college and four-year university. The institution had previously fulfilled both missions under one academic roof, leading to what Sessoms considered unacceptably low – – typically single-digit – – completion rates.

Since Gueverra has only been president of the community college since 2009 it’s hard to tell what’s he’s really accomplished. But Gueverra is rumored to have a somewhat uncomfortable relationship with UDC President Allen Sessoms.

The problems in the relationship appear to come from questions about the separation of the community college Gueverra leads from the university Sessoms runs.

Back in 2009 DC business leaders recommended a total separation between UDC and the community college in part as a way to detach the community college programs from an institution with “distrustful faculty, high administrative overhead, poorly maintained and outdated facilities, chronic mismanagement and internal dissension, and unacceptably low completion and graduation rates.”

Sessons apparently disagreed. According to an article in the Washington Post last year, Sessons worked to “slow down the separation process,” once ordering students and his staff to stop referring to the new entity as the Community College of the District of Columbia” but, rather, the “University of the District of Columbia Community College.” Or UDC-CC.

Whatever name one prefers, under Gueverra’s leadership, enrollment in the community college programs tripled and the institution raised $10 million in outside money.

Let’s hope he gets to stay at Florida Keys Community College for more than three years.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer