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Howard University May Disappear if It Doesn’t Fix Financial Problems, Says Trustee

pododsopsdHoward 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?


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25 comments

  1. Howard have the legs to be one of the pre-eminent universities in the country period … but to me Howard markets itself to be more of a social university whose days of exemplary academic excellence are way in the past …. this is essentially reflected in the low graduation rate (circa 50%), low retention rate, and low average GPA amongst the student body. Not to mention the administrators that were hired to led HU to further greatness do everything but … I heard from HU alums how it’s almost as if these administrators were intentionally put in DC by the KKK to sabotage what some called the “black mecca”.

    But someone here mentioned something that is so true and needs to be address. Many of the “leaders” at HU are part of inane secret societies, frats, soros, and it’s rare that you will find those brainwashed into that to truly give a care about anything else outside of their religion (I almost said “organization” but it’s not, it’ a cult, religion this I know to be true after years of being around it). Hence, the “leaders” @ HU need to be those who actually have a fully invested interest in seeing HU do better and improve, not an apathetic interest or have some hidden agenda to use their leadership role at HU to exalt their frat or soro.

  2. Howard have the legs to be one of the pre-eminent universities in the country period … but to me Howard markets itself to be more of a social university whose days of exemplary academic excellence are way in the past …. this is essentially reflected in the low graduation rate (circa 50%), low retention rate, and low average GPA amongst the student body. Not to mention the administrators that were hired to led HU to further greatness do everything but … I heard from HU alums how it’s almost as if these administrators were intentionally put in DC by the KKK to sabotage what some called the “black mecca”.

    But someone here mentioned something that is so true and needs to be address. Many of the “leaders” at HU are part of inane secret societies, frats, soros, and it’s rare that you will find those brainwashed into that to truly give a care about anything else outside of their religion (I almost said “organization” but it’s not, it’ a cult, religion this I know to be true after years of being around it). Hence, the “leaders” @ HU need to be those who actually have a fully invested interest in seeing HU do better and improve, not an apathetic interest or have some hidden agenda to use their leadership role at HU to exalt their frat or soro. It’s ridiculous

  3. those that are allowed to achieve wealth on this earth.. um’ speaking to the black ones,it seem their heart’s become for removed, from their beginning’s of poverty..i think they shiver,.. just to think about it..i know about the law of attraction,that what ever is in one heart,seem’s to attract another heart on the same vibe wave,but ,to me wealth on this earth is to close to SATAN, domain..because SATAN is not in tread in the down trotted,of the suffering of the human being’s. so he watches how the wealth flow and the direction it flows..i wonder if their heart cry out knowing the circle they have been bought into..

  4. Let’s step up and speak up about conditions at our HBCUs. For most HBCSs, the alumni need to give back on an annual basis so students following can receive a quality education and most schools need fiscal responsibility and accountibility as well. My daughter is in a six week sunner internship at HU for raising juniors in the medical/dental fields, and I was shocked at the disorganization and how incompetent the staff were on the first day. I hope and pray that HU get’s it act together and make some drastic changes for the better!

  5. This is very sad and I’d love to know how many alums from my graduating class have ever even entertained the thought of helping to fatten Howard’s endowment. When we needed loans back in the day we were never denied. Howard was the first HBCU that gave us a dam good education so write some checks

  6. I am a 94 graduate of FAMU. We have experienced the same problems off and on since I graduated. This is a problem that is endemic at HBCU’s. The main difference in HBCU’s and many predominately white institutions of higher learning is in the role of the alumni. At predominately white institutions that alumni role goes far beyond “just fundraising”. They get involved in policies and demand accountability. At HBCU’S the alumni chapters are relegated to writing checks and fundraising. So there is no pressure on the administrators and decision makers. Until, the alumni at these HBCU’s get involved in policies as well as fundraising this will not change.

  7. Howard University has a lot to answer for. It was an Administrative Piggy Bank for those who know who they are and innocent people and students got caught up in the rift raft. I know I was there! We have to be held accountable! I pray to God that this University survives because of our ancestors who diligently fought for an honest right to a fair education. The campus is simply beautiful; it would be a God awful shame to lose history and culture because of greed!

  8. Listen, I attended Howard University from 90-94. My experience as a student was less than stellar. Sure, the educational experience was on par. Sure, I was challeged by my professors and my peers. The problem was with the administration. Financial Aid was a NIGHTMARE!! Registration was a week long process. A WEEK!!! The Career Counseling Centers were a JOKE!! Graduation was a WRECK!! It took two weeks to get a clearance to graduate!!! TWO WEEKS!!?? WHY?? The people who were tasked with making sure the students were ready for the future were failing the student body on a daily basis. How was that possible? Who’s job was it to make better hiring decisions? Perform employee reviews? Administrators!! Instead of proactively doing their jobs they chose a “business as usual” approach at the students’expense. Why? I suspect those at the top were too busy lining their pockets to care about those at the bottom not doing their jobs and adversely affecting the student body along the way. Listen, the same problems the University had before I got there are the same problems it has now. This has less to do with alumni giving back and more the do with employee theft. Last time I checked embezzlement was a crime. When HBCU presidents and administrators start going to jail for theft and being forced to pay restitution things will change. If we create a culture where people who steal from HBCUs are held accountable for their actions then MAYBE the management will get better. Some think financial mismanagement seems to be the name of the game. BS!!! The name of the game is THEFT!! And it’s at the cost of those who have yet to go to college and the alumni who hold the university is such high esteem, that is until they receive a phone call about giving back.

    • I attended H.U. from 1990-1994 too. What’s your name? My name is David Bridges and I was a political science major. The rant about H.U. never changes. It’s always the administration that is most blamed. I remember registration in that 1990-1994 period taking place in Cramton Auditorium, and I remember waiting in these long lines to register at these desks with computers, so the students could see whether the classes were closed or open. It was a draining experience to say the least, but at the time, I didn’t know of any other way to register for classes. My dad paid my tuition, so I didn’t deal with all those financial aid issues. I actually received a small scholarship one semester.

  9. Stop making excuses and fix this situation. The University from inside out needs rehabing. The community the univeristy sat in is horrible. Parents from out of state, will take one look at the phsyical building and its surrounding and opt out of of placing their students in Howard. Please tell me, when was the last time Howard had a complete face lift?

    Secondly, the staff is often rude and unfriendly. I experined this situation when I once visited the University seeking information. It is my hope that this Historical Universy does not close. When I see a sound plan of action for improvment,I will gladly donate. To ask me to do so before a plan is in place, is toally disrespectable.

  10. Craig H. Jones Sr.

    Not being an alumni of HU but being of that area in Northern VA I spent a lot of my time on that campus learning a lot of music from students there while in still in high school. I also took part in some fund raisers for the school. I would hate to see the school fail to maintain it availability to anyone that desire higher education. Lets not argue over the care of the school but put action in place to save this great school. I know that it is hard to look over the problems that put the school at risk but let’s put that aside for now and make every attempt to save this HBCU, for the sake of the future and place indivduals in place to insure that this does not happen again.

  11. Zachary C. Husser, Sr.

    Dear Howard Alumni & HBCU Supporters,

    There’s one thing that has “HBCU” Schools in trouble and that’s Money! Yes, many of the Alumni don’t give any MONEY to the College and or University that opened the doors for them to great economic employment and careers developed by the graduates. We “Fix” that problem of not giving MONEY to Our HBCU or any College YOU adopt in your part of the Country and we’ll have the major problem under control. Resources is key to stopping the decline and closing of many Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

    Secondly, WE, parents of Alumni, Stakeholders, Supporters, Alumni, and others Must make sure the Money is spent with the Student in mind. We must make sure the Financial Books are in the Best Shape possible. Competent Administrations is the Key. We must select the “Best Presidents” and Fiscal folk we can. No selecting based on other Associations. Board of Trustee Members RAISE DOLLARS for the University. If you have folk on the Board and they’re not doing that, You must replace them!

    In concluding, the “Name Branding Influence” can get HBCU Administrations in the door, but competency, follow through, excellent use of dollars raised, and a consistent & continuous fiscal update report, along with working with Students is the key to a successful operation of a great University. Remember, when “Big Financial Donors” See that Alumni are giving to help their University, it encourages Corporate giving. We Supporters are the KEY folk to keeping Our HBCU Schools doing great things! We Owe a debt of gratitude to ALL HBCU Schools because they are the builders of Our Black Legacy. What are YOU going to do??

  12. Hey Howard Alumni….WHERE ARE YOU!!!!!

  13. SEAN FROM BROOKLYN

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance

    BOYCE GET ON THIS STORY AND GET OFF THIS ENTERTAINMENT NONSENSE.

  14. Ok, let’s get down to brass tacks when the school calls for donations how many of us treat them like tax collectors. That is what is most sinful, what does the endowment look like. The majority of HBCUs are still living in fabled past. We don’t care and will not care when the schools are relegated to a mention in a history book , oh I forgot you have to be able to read and comprehend

  15. It is also possible that not enough students are able to qualify for Howard because of poor preparation from High Schools. The educational system is broken. Most people cannot write sufficiently. Also, our community does not do enough to raise money for our universitites.Our entertainers are too selfish.

    • This is just another crime and shame of how stupid and backward black America has become. Black folks have no idea or just common sense regarding finances or economics. 99% of our million dollar entertainers and athletes pisss away their money on worthless crap. Million dollar pimpin preachers loot money from churches to buy a fleet of luxury cars and multiple homes for themselves etc. etc.

  16. Sandra L. West

    A lack of resources? I beg to differ. I do not know about science labs, but Founders Library and the Afro-American Resource Center headed by internationally known poet E. Ethelbert Miller are outstanding and well stocked. Even when I visit Washington on a social matter, I make sure I spend some time in Founders Library.

  17. Sean Combs attended Howard University,now it is time to gather Dr.Dre,50 cents,Jay-Z,Beyonce,Oprah,Magoic,Tyler Perry,etc. to form a n organization like the American Jewish Federation tohelp/aid/assist the HBCUs.

  18. Maybe we must be punished to the point where we will stand together and fight for our natural rights. If losing Howard and other HBCU is necessary to reach that end, I accept it.

  19. imjustwondering...

    Dr. Watkins I sent you a link to an article that needs to be posted about this problem. It was written by Alderman Zachary Faison, Jr. at MVSU. Even Dr. Kimbrough acknowledges the soundness of the article. Now another of our greats fight against the wind… Re-post the article so that those who care about HBCUs may understand the kind of changes that must take place at our universities in order for them to survive.
    Let’s get the word out. I sent it as a reply to the info…box email.

  20. Dr. Randy Short, M.Div. Class of 1983 and 2006

    As a Howard graduate and a former Graduate Trustee Board member, I raised these issues in 1998 and 1999. University officials made certain that I was not re-elected to the Board by use of fraud and payoffs of students in charge of elections. What I can say of Atty. Higganbotham-Brooks and other trustees they were not doing much to raise money for Howard. Lots of money is spent in the courts over sexual issue and unfair terminations. Students, staff, and faculty are treated worse than slaves. A corrupt culture fueled by Boule Fraternity and Sorority loyalty to themselves alone, white collar criminality and malfeasance by foreign-born, Anglo, wannabe Bourgie thugs, and King Kong size black inferiority and mediocrity resistant to rules, regulation, decency, and proper service of customers. All the HBCUs will die because of self-hating criminal Blacknecks who are doing whatever they can to destroy the rest of us. If only some people would go postal on the filth that prevents these schools from doing that good within their reach.

  21. As an alumni of HU, I can say that I had a very rich experience, despite the clear lack of resources. The issues that I have witnessed and continue to witness are on an administrative level and somehow seem to be connected with some sort of decision-making power.

    Let’s not get it confused, HU is pretty powerful. The name carries a heavy degree of weight both inside and outside the DMV area and the students perform astonishingly well despite a clear lack of resources (Labs, Libraries, resource centers). The school has a lot of connections and amazingly gifted professors. I think we as alumni need to step in and demand better for our alma mater.

  22. I am not entirely surprised about this sad and terrible news. From a recent personal experience dealing with the medical school there, I had already speculated it would only be a matter of time before the obituary of this historic institution is written. I was completely perturbed at the level of disorganization, gross incompetence, and complete lack of accountability in the way student records were managed and processed. The level of service can only be expected from a third rate institution. For the sake of thousands of students whose future are at stake, I hope the board of trustees develops the back bone to clean house before Howard goes the way of St. Paul-shut its doors!

    James Johnson

  23. LETS HOPE TO GOD THEY FIX IT

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