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Howard University is in financial trouble and may disappear if it doesn’t learn to be more efficient in the way that it’s being managed. All of this is part of the claim of a vice chairwoman of the school’s board of trustees, who feels that the school may be digging itself into a financial grave.
According to a report published this week as part of a letter in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Renee Higginbotham-Brooks said that “Howard will not be here in three years if we don’t make some crucial decisions now.”
The letter is dated April 24th and lists quite a few reasons that the school is going to continue to have trouble due to some very bad financial habits and circumstances.
According to Higginbotham-Brooks, Howard is facing sever e competition from less-expensive state universities and a drop in federal support from the Obama Administration. She also claims that the university’s staff is entirely too large, and that the school has not invested in developing a strong fundraising system.
Rachel Mann, a spokeswoman for Howard, wasn’t saying much about the letter, and only deferred questions to the board chairman, Addison Barry Rand.
“Spirited debate and discourse are part of the culture of higher education,” said Rand. “The board and the university’s leadership team continue to work tirelessly to address many of the tough issues facing colleges and universities like Howard.”
Higginbotham-Brooks is a Howard University graduate and attorney in Fort Worth, Texas. She has been on the board since 1997 and vice chairwoman since 2005.
Howard’s president, Sidney A. Ribeau, has been accused by Higginbotham-Brooks of being an ineffective leader. Also, in 2012, faculty senate leaders protested bonuses given to administrators in the middle of budget cuts.
Dr. Boyce Watkins recently supported another HBCU president, Dr. Walter Kimbrough, when he appealed to Dr. Dre, asking why he gave $35 million to USC instead of an HBCU. Dr. Watkins says that everyone who cares about the African American community should support an HBCU, even if they didn’t attend one, since these schools are a critical part of educating black students.
At the same time, Dr. Watkins says that the public should speak up honestly about areas in which HBCUs can and should do a better job.
“It’s a shame that so many black colleges struggle while black athletes earn billions for predominantly white universities,” said Dr. Watkins, who says he once applied for a position at Howard University. “But we must also be honest when our schools are being run inefficiently. I’ve heard quite a few complaints from both students and faculty about Howard’s stubbornness when it comes to making changes that are critical for its survival. Even when my friend and I both applied to Howard after getting our PhDs, we were stunned at how disorganized and unresponsive the administration was when reviewing our applications. It actually made me sad.”
Howard University alums please speak up. What’s your experience been with the university?