By Darreonna Davis and Breonna Randall
Howard University News Service
Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick cited records in everything from fundraising to construction investments on Thursday during his Spring 2022 State of the University Address.
“The idea here is to make sure that we can have revitalized facilities that would provide a world-class experience for teaching, research and all types of scholarship activities,” Frederick said as he detailed the recently announced $785 million investment in new construction and major renovations. “This is construction that will take four to five years.”
The real-estate projects include developing core academic buildings, such as Miner Hall, which will soon house the School of Education and the Howard University Middle School for Math and Science; and the C.B. Powell Building, which will become part of the Health Sciences Complex. Howard University Hospital will be expanded into an academic center for medical students.
The plan will also include a STEM Center; the construction of the Center for Arts and Communications; and an additional 1,200 beds for student housing with increased space for recreation and wellness – issues that were at the forefront of the university’s longest-running protest, which occurred last semester. These additions will be part of Sherman Avenue student housing and the Fusion Building at the Wonder Plaza on Georgia Avenue.
“The more on-campus housing availability the better,” said Jade Dedrick, a graduating senior majoring in TV/Film who lives off campus. “It will be very beneficial to Howard students that either can’t afford to live off campus or would just prefer to be on campus.”
Frederick said that Howard received $255 million in tax abatements from the Washington, D.C., government toward the real estate projects and that the university plans to issue $300 million in fixed-rate taxable bonds. Other funding comes from fundraising and donations. For fiscal year 2021, the university raised $177 million, the most in Howard’s history.
“That record-breaking growth, I think, in our fundraising is important,” Frederick said. “We have to start thinking about comprehensive fundraising campaigns and where we set that bar. It’s probably going to be transformative for HBCUs.”
The university has set a goal of having a $1 billion endowment, which would be a first among HBCUs. Frederick proudly proclaimed that Howard will be able to do this despite putting $80 million into the pension plan.
“I wanted to make sure that our retirees – at the time that the pandemic hit – did not have a concern about the security of their pension,” the president said. “So, our pension plan is now funded at about 109%.”
Along with the pension funding, salaries for full-time faculty have increased 21 percent. Frederick said he had no issue increasing the salaries of tenured faculty nor the economics of the deal between unionized adjunct faculty and the university.
All of these decisions and investments, combined with donations, have bolstered the financial state of the university, Frederick said, especially at a time of global economic uncertainty. In addition, the university received $344 million in its federal appropriation toward operations — $100 million of which is dedicated to the Howard University Hospital.
Frederick said the development projects will take four to five years, which is beyond the time in which he plans to retire from his role as the university’s 17th president, an announcement he made on April 13.
“I’m happy for him, because I feel like he’s done a lot of great work,” said Allison Bryant, the assistant dean of the School of Business. “I’m sure he has to be tired, and we’re really excited to see what the end of his tenure shows.”
Due to the rising COVID-19 cases on campus and the university’s pivot to remote learning for the last two weeks of the academic year, the State of the University address was delivered in the School of Business auditorium with very few audience members. The live stream can be found on YouTube.
Darreonna Davis and Breonna Randall are reporters for HUNewsService.com.