False Panic Over Howard? Official Calls 'Gone in 3 Years' Letter 'Unduly Alarming'

The chair of the HBCU's governing board says it's still recovering from the recession, but it is growing. 

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Howard University (Getty Images)

If Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, the vice chair of Howard University's board of trustees, was hoping to bring attention to the school's financial situation in a letter she wrote that was published last week in the Chronicle of Higher Education, she was successful. In it, Higginbotham-Brooks predicted that, barring major changes to the school's finances, it would shut down within three years. No big surprise: Her letter inspired shock and dismay in the HBCU community and beyond.

Addison Rand, chair of the university's governing board, sent a message to the Howard community on Monday saying that "without proper context [, the letter] paints an unduly alarming picture of the University's condition." Read an excerpt (pdf):

Howard, like all segments of the higher education community -- and indeed all sectors of the
U.S. economy -- is still recovering from the effects of a great recession. We have taken
numerous steps to enhance the University's financial standing, including reducing administrative
costs, and made difficult decisions to realign the staffing structure. The University has taken
additional steps to achieve efficiency, reinvest in strategic areas, and increase our focus on
fundraising.

Despite these challenges, Howard continues to grow. This spring, the University broke ground
on two new residence halls and an interdisciplinary research building. The projects will increase
our competitiveness and position the University to continue to attract talented students and
extraordinary faculty from around the nation and the global community.

As the University's governing body, the board welcomes and is extremely sensitive to
expressions of concern and input from various stakeholders and interested constituencies, both
from inside and outside the institution. In fact, such expressions are fairly common for all
university boards, especially when difficult decisions must be made.

While the board works with the Administration and continues to take appropriate and strategic
actions to address normal operational and strategic challenges, it will do so with appropriate
transparency and sensitivity to the concerns and well-being of the institution and to all members
of the Howard University community.

Through it all, we will continue to work prudently to ensure a vibrant and prestigious future
for the University and community we love.

Read more at the Huffington Post.

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