Southeastern University (Washington, D.C.)

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This article is about a defunct university in Washington, District of Columbia. For the university in Lakeland, Florida, see Southeastern University (Florida).
Southeastern University (Washington, D.C.)
SEU seal.jpg
Type Private
Active 1879–2009
Address 501 I St. Washington, DC 20024, Washington, D.C., U.S.
Campus Urban
Degrees Offered Associate, Bachelor, Masters
Colors Burgundy, Gold          
Mascot Hawk
Website and

Southeastern University was a private, non-profit undergraduate and graduate institution of higher education located in southwestern Washington, D.C.. The university lost its accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education on August 31, 2009. The Commission reported that the college lacked rigor and was losing faculty, enrollment and financial stability. The 130-year-old school ceased offering classes after an extended summer session in 2009.[1][2] It merged with Graduate School USA in March 2010.

Southeastern University was established by the YMCA and chartered by an Act of Congress in 1879. It had degree programs in Criminal Justice, Child Development, Public Administration, Business Management, Accounting, Finance, Liberal Studies, Computer Science, and Allied Health, a program initiated in 2006 at Greater Southeast Community Hospital. There were also certificate programs in entrepreneurship, property management, real estate, Web development, and others. It was a member of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area but lost this affiliation after the fall 2009 semester.[3]

Through the spring of 2009, Southeastern University had a total enrollment of about 870 students, with 222 of those students pursuing postgraduate degrees. About 77% were locally based,[4] and a majority were female, but there was also a significant international enrollment.[5] International enrollment had been in decline after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when the student population shifted from international students to primarily low-income District residents.[2] The university employed approximately 140 faculty and staff before the university was notified of its loss of accreditation.[6][7]


Southeastern began as a series of classes offered by the YMCA of the District of Columbia in 1879. The Washington School of accountancy was added in 1907, and in 1923 the university incorporated under the authority of the District of Columbia as, "Southeastern University of the Young Men's Christian Association of the District of Columbia." An August 19, 1937 federal charter from Congress renamed the institution to "Southeastern University". The university afterward added other colleges.[5] In 1977, the university received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. During the 1980s, two university officials were fired due to misappropriation of funds, and SEU's student loan default rate reached 42% by 1987. In 1989, the federal government temporarily cut off the university's loan funds. Enrollment declined from 1800 to 500 in the early 1990s.[8]


Three months before the university was notified it would lose accreditation, Southeastern received $1.5 million from the District of Columbia to fund improvements intended to prevent the school's loss of accreditation. Efforts by the DC government to recover the funding after the school lost accreditation were unsuccessful.[9]

Elaine Ryan replaced Charlene Drew Jarvis as university president on March 31, 2009 after Jarvis had been president for 13 years.[10] Prior to losing accreditation, the university was negotiating a merger with the GS Graduate School, also based in Washington, DC.[11] This merger was completed in March 2010.[12]

In May 2014, the Shakespeare Theatre Company announced plans to redevelop the former site of Southeastern University at 501 Eye St. SW into an actors' campus.[13]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "SEU Press Releases". Southeastern University. Archived from the original on April 28, 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b de Vise,Daniel. D.C. University Loses Accreditation: Southeastern Doesn't Expect to Offer Fall Classes. Washington Post Monday, September 14, 2009; 9:56 AM.
  3. ^ "Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area". Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Southeastern University – At a Glance". College Board. Retrieved May 22, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b "About SEU". Southeastern University. Archived from the original on April 29, 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Faculty". Southeastern University. Archived from the original on August 21, 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Staff and Administration". Southeastern University. Archived from the original on August 19, 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2007. 
  8. ^ Kevin Carey (March 2010). "Asleep at the Seal: Just how bad does a college have to be to lose accreditation?". Washington Monthly. Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. Retrieved February 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ Neibauer, Michael. "Southeastern U. failed despite cash influx from D.C. coffers". Washington Examiner. Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  10. ^ . Middle States Commission on Higher Education.  Missing or empty |title= (help); [dead link] (Google Cache of this letter)
  11. ^ Fine Could Hamper Southeastern U. Merger Washington Post, Retrieved October 13, 2009
  12. ^ de Vise, Daniel (March 6, 2010). "Southeastern U. acquired by another school in D.C". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ Rebecca Cooper (14 May 2014). "Shakespeare Theatre Company to develop actors’ campus at former Southeastern University". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved February 4, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°52′46.7″N 77°1′10.2″W / 38.879639°N 77.019500°W / 38.879639; -77.019500