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Longtime minority affairs administrator Valarie Swain-Cade is a finalist in the University of the District of Columbia's search for a new president, according to an announcement made this week by the search committee. Cade is currently an assistant provost and an assistant to the president. Cade, who has been at the University since 1978, called the position "an unprecedented opportunity," adding that she considered being a member of the short list of five candidates for the position an honor. "It's just wonderful to be in the company of so many wonderful people," she said. "It's very early in the process -- at this point I'm very excited." Calling UDC an "extraordinary institution," Cade said the decision will probably not be made until the beginning of July, with candidates facing a battery of interviews at the Washington school before then. "There will be a period over the next month where all of us will have the opportunity to meet the students, staff, faculty at UDC," said Cade, who holds a doctorate in Urban Education and Adolescent Psychology from Temple University. The other four candidates are administrators from California State University at Sacramento, Tuskegee University in Alabama, the City University of New York and the University of California at San Diego. Joann Mitchell, the director of the Office of Affirmative Action, called Cade a "catalyst" at the University, saying that she has been important in many respects. She said that were Cade to leave, "it would be a loss for the institution," but that Cade's impact would continue to be felt through the support systems she has created. "She has been able to impact the quality of life for students, faculty, and staff who are people of color," she said, adding that "it's been an across-the-board impact." Several other administrators declined to comment on Cade's appearance on the list, saying that their public statements at this time could interfere with the process. Cade said that her time at the University has been challenging and rewarding, and were she to leave, minority affairs would be in capable hands. The search process began after the firing of then-president Rafael Cortada after a dispute with university trustees a year ago over the handling of the university. Nor has the search itself escaped controversy. UDC students staged an 11 day protest at the school after being snubbed in their bid for representation on the search committee. Student government leaders eventually were permitted a say on the final decision. The Washington Post contributed to this story.

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