Neither Hankerson nor Johnson responded to The Root’s requests for interviews, while Howard’s office of public relations offered to answer The Root’s follow-up questions. On Wednesday afternoon, we emailed a list of nine questions to the university’s administration:

  1. Was the extent of the misappropriated funds limited to the office of financial aid and to university grants and tuition remissions?
  2. Was the extent of the misappropriated funds limited to the six fired employees?
  3. Was the outside auditor’s report made available to the board of trustees, faculty or students?
  4. What was the U.S. Department of Education’s response to the self-reporting?
  5. Did the university notify any law enforcement agency on this matter?
  6. If the funds were limited to university grants and tuition remissions, was that money ever reimbursed to the school?
  7. Where does funding from university grants and tuition remissions come from? The president explained that they are “institutional funds,” but from whom does the institution receive those funds?
  8. How did the school make up for the lost money?
  9. Does the university’s administration consider this matter closed?

We have not received an answer.

Central to this scandal is Frederick’s assertion that no federal or donor funds were involved in this alleged embezzlement. The Root spoke to two current HBCU administrators, one former administrator and a federal education official who all separately acknowledged that it is unlikely that federal funds were not involved.


Howard University receives one of the largest allotments of federal funding of any HBCU. One official explained that Howard’s recurring $200 million-plus annual federal allowance essentially means that it has one of the largest endowments among American colleges—black or white.

Is this why Howard University asserts that federal funds were not affected? Is this why the college has not engaged law enforcement officials in arresting the alleged embezzlers?


Even stranger is the fact that some of the people involved, including Hankerson, appear to still be enrolled at the university. Is Frederick trying to avoid a federal investigation that could be triggered by this incident?

No one has the answers. Longtime faculty members and student leaders who spoke to The Root have not seen the results of the RSM audit; nor could we obtain a copy from the university.


This story is not unique to Howard; these kinds of scandals are quietly bubbling beneath the surface at many institutions of higher learning, regardless of whether the schools are historically black or predominantly white. But because this is happening at Howard, it is a bigger scandal because people want to know.

Because if you are black, Howard is your home, too.