EDUCATION

Howard University in decline, says board vice chairwoman

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Howard University, one of the nations premier historically black colleges, is in trouble due to fiscal and management issues.

Some of the reasons cited for the school's decline include competition for students, expenses that result from the university's hospital, and a lack of fundraising.

Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, a Howard alum and the vice chairwoman of the university's board of trustees, wrote in a letter that “Howard will not be here in three years if we don’t make some crucial decisions now."

Marvin Harris just finished his freshman year and is worried about the school's future.

“I feel like there are going to be a lot of changes over the next two or three years so I’ve got to prepare myself for that,” Harris says. “But at the same time, try to remain focused.”

The letter was written in April but released on Friday.

In it, she says how the school has lower enrollment, which is expected to continue.

She says the hospital is a drain on the university's budget and that selling it should be considered and that the school employs too many people.

“It concerns me that the university will not survive from an economic standpoint,” said Howard staffer Oyonumo Ntekim. “I’m employed here and if the university doesn't survive I don't have a job.”

Despite predictions of a dire financial future, the school continues to physically grow with a new residence hall being constructed off Georgia Avenue.

Alum Kathy Henderson says she is disappointed that her alma mater may be in trouble.

“A lot of universities have had financial troubles,” Henderson says. “I want us to come through this with flying colors so this is a wake-up call - a wake-up call that everyone needs to heed.”

But Addison Barry Rand, the chairman of Howard's board of trustees, assures all aspects of the university remain strong. 

"...I want to assure you that working together with input from all of the
University stakeholders, Howard University remains academically, financially and operationally strong. Like most institutions of higher education, our university is addressing complex organizational
challenges and has made some difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions that are necessary to enhance the institution's viability and growth..."

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