Howard University faculty and administrators released a scathing letter last week calling for the ouster of HU president Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, saying that his “presidency is failed and represents a dark and shameful moment in Howard’s history.”
The undated letter, which copied members of the Washington Post, New York Times, U.S. News and World Report as well as organizations such at the United Negro College Fund and the Federal Reserve Bank, was signed by “Concerned Howard University Administrators, Faculty and Staff.”
An asterisk by the writers notes that they chose to remain anonymous because of fear of reprisals from Frederick and his provost, Dr. Anthony K. Wutoh.
The 16-page letter begins, “Howard University President Wayne Frederick has severely compromised [Howard] University’s historic mission, legacy and future. His unusually pliable notions about ethics and integrity have made the University vulnerable to allegations of faculty and staff intimidation and harassment; created a hostile workplace; and subjected the University to scrutiny by external authorities to whom the University submits accreditation reports, institutional data, and budget finance reports.”
And it just gets worse.
The letter claims that Frederick has not submitted a strategic plan since his appointment, has had the University’s credit rating downgraded, and is not supported by students or faculty. The bulk of the tome outlines five questions, which the letter says Frederick has “lie-answered.” These include questions around the school no longer being ranked in the top 100 colleges/universities by U.S. News & World Report; the school’s financial status; the school’s declining enrollment; the school’s strategic plan; and faculty, staff and student morale.
Frederick, who according to the letter, was appointed interim president of Howard in October 2013, and appointed president in July 2014, has in recent weeks also had students question his motives and actions, including protests on campus and a rebuff from the student body president when Frederick hosted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the historic HBCU in mid-February.
In the last few weeks, there has also been a rash of student graffiti on campus disparaging the president (and a “resist” banner hung from a university building,) and calling Frederick an “overseer” who “hates black people,” which the letter addresses: “Sadly, the graffiti assessments about Frederick which were strewn across campus are true. He is ineffectual and autocratic and unable to clearly articulate a commitment to black uplift.”
The authors call for the Board of Trustees to identify a new president with “proven and effective higher education administrative ability,” “stature on Capitol Hill” and a “respectful regard for faculty” to replace Frederick, whom they have obviously lost confidence in.
“The only discernable direction that the University has taken under Frederick is down (including credit downgrades, challenged cash flow, decreased student enrollment, high turnover of senior level administrators and cabinet members, disintegrating faulty and staff morale, growing student discontent and negative press.) Further, there has been a considerable reduction in the University’s footprint and vigor due to the slash and burn fiscal strategy pursued by Frederick.”
So far, Frederick has not offered any response on record.