Dr. Walters, officers of the Faculty Senate, Faculty colleagues, Cabinet members, deans, staff and students, thank you for another opportunity to present to you the State of the University address and update you on the progress that we have made and the opportunities and challenges before us.
Thanks to your leadership and contributions, we have had a very productive year and accomplished many things. I want to provide you information regarding the progress that we are making implementing the Board approved academic renewal decisions and highlight a few of the core elements of it; a phased faculty retirement program; and our continuing effort to exercise budgetary discipline to meet our serious short and long-term fiscal goals.
But first……I want to share news about one of our sister institutions. As you are aware, tornado and fierce storm activity seriously damaged Shaw University. We are reaching out to the Shaw family to offer our support as they recover from the damage. Recall that the Howard family lent a helping hand when severe weather destroyed much of Wilberforce University and seriously impacted Dillard and Xavier Universities. In each instance, the support of the HBCU community, such as assisting students with matriculation options and financial support, was an essential element of their recovery.
To assist, we are establishing a “Shaw University Relief Fund” to which Howard University students, faculty, staff and alumni may contribute. Proceeds from this fund will be sent directly to Shaw to be made available to its students as emergency funds to help defray expenses associated with the tornado.
I thank Dean Snell and the School of Social Work for hosting this State of the University address. Dean Snell and the Social Work family just celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of the school. The school’s receipt of a generous contribution from Mr. John Jacobs, a graduate of the school and former member of our board of trustees, for an endowed professorship is an example of our focused attention on increasing professorial endowments as part of our academic renewal initiative. We thank Mr. Jacobs for his service on our board and long-standing support of Howard and particularly our Schools of Business and Social Work. I am delighted to congratulate a member of this faculty, Dr. Tricia Bent-Goodley, professor of social work, who on this Thursday, will receive the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) “Educator of the Year Award” in New Orleans at the organization’s 43rd national conference.
Our academic experience this year has been enriched by a diverse array of activities and accomplishments by our faculty and students. They are too numerous to list here, but a few are representative.
The university community appreciates the research and other scholarly efforts of its distinguished faculty. I was pleased to join Chairman Walters at the reception where we honored the university’s 2011 faculty authors. This is the 15th annual celebration of our faculty authors and a fitting recognition of academic excellence at Howard. I thank the Faculty Senate for its role in this event and its annual faculty award initiative.
The spring 2011 College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School and Health Sciences research days are important indicators of our commitment to faculty mentored student research. I thank the leadership of these units for ensuring the continuation of this important initiative. I want to thank the Faculty Senate for sponsoring a day-long retreat focused on the future of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which involved faculty colleagues from other HBCUs. Professors Richard Wright and Taft Broome’s presentations at the retreat were very visionary and informative about the importance and future of Howard and HBCUs.
In-line with the Faculty Senate’s HBCU initiative, the Howard University Student Association hosted an HBCU student leadership conference to focus on leadership development.
The endowed Gwendolyn and Colbert King Executive Leadership Lecture Series is but one example of the diverse array of academic lectures that took place during the academic year. The King lecture series, and the other endowed lectures that took place during the year, made available to our students distinguished academic, business, and civic leaders. I thank Trustee Emeritus Richard Parsons for coordination of this series.
We were honored to have the opportunity to join with The National Urban League to release the “State of Black America” and serve as a platform for a discussion of issues affecting the Black community. I am pleased that Mr. Marc Morial, President of The National Urban League will deliver our 2011commencement address.
We also joined with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to sponsor a symposium recognizing the 40th anniversary of the founding of the CBC. Our faculty and students joined former and current members of the CBC to examine the history of the CBC and its current agenda.
Our nationally recognized Alternative Spring Break program initiative was again very successful, expanding into additional national and international sites and providing service to under-served populations.
Last week, I provided the university community an academic renewal update. I want to reiterate the important points that I made. In January, this year, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved our academic renewal plan and made far reaching decisions that will strengthen Howard for the future. We are beginning to implement the Board’s decisions.
We will soon launch a new website, which will serve as a central access point for tracking academic renewal developments and progress on an on-going basis.
The entire Howard community is vested in the success of academic renewal; as a community, we will make changes that are absolutely essential for positioning Howard for the opportunities and challenges ahead. Strengthening Howard is not about change affecting a few departments and programs; it is about planned, orderly change that spans the entire university. It is about increased focus, strategic use of resources and leveraging the innovation and commitment of the campus community, our alumni and supporters. It is about taking advantage of opportunities, openly confronting our challenges and delivering on our still unique mission in ways that are more intentional, effective and efficient.
As a part of our administrative renewal, we will examine all administrative positions at all levels, making sure to eliminate duplication. The B-A-C process helps us to achieve this objective because it allows us to review and examine administrative staffing. The information we use must be correct.
This week the hilltop published an article presenting what was described as “Pre-PCAR Pay Raises for Howard Administrators.” The IRS form 990 – which provided the basis for the story -- is a public document but any data taken from that form must be read in proper context. It is important to understand that the figures presented on the chart in the newspaper were misleading because they combined salaries with other categories of compensation to equal a pay increase. For example, in different cases the figures added in payments for earned annual leave, retirement, separations, deferred compensation and/or 403-b contributions. These were all put under a single category of “salary” or “take home pay.”
There were other miscalculations. Let’s use my case as an example: according to the “Hilltop,” I received a nearly 200 percent increase from 2008 to 2009. In actuality, the 2008 data represents compensation for my first 4 months here. The 2009 data represents payment for a full year. There was no 200 percent increase. It is also worth noting that 2008 and 2009 were transition years at the university with retirements, separation and the hire of new administrators.
When I assumed the presidency, I made a commitment to increase the transparency of our budget development process and provide opportunities for informed and timely input from the faculty senate, students and staff. I created the Budget Advisory Committee (B-A-C) process to help achieve this goal. Using the B-A-C, for the last two years, we have engaged in a more inclusive and transparent budget development process, discussing and deliberating about the university’s budget recommendations before the final budgets were submitted to the board of trustees. We are in the midst of the FY-2012 budget development process, and I thank each member of the B-A-C for roles they are playing.
An important dimension of our budget development process is the independent opportunity that the Faculty Senate has to submit recommendations. I look forward to receiving the Senate’s budget recommendations and will make sure the Senate has access to data to inform their deliberations.
Our goal is to replicate the B-A-C process at the school and college level. While we have made some progress in this regard, much more needs to be done. Our academic divisional leaders and deans will continue to work with their respective faculties to complete the school and college-based budget advisory process.
The essence of Howard is its faculty, most of whom are eligible to retire. In recognition of faculty service and to ensure a smooth transition as many faculty retire over the next few years, I have proposed to the Board of Trustees that Howard offer a voluntary program in which tenured faculty who choose to retire, receive financial incentives and the opportunity to continue teaching and engaging in scholarly work and service for a specified period, perhaps up to five years and optionally with a reduced workload. I appointed a committee, chaired by Dean Kurt Schmoke with the Faculty Senate Chair and Vice Chair as members, to recommend and review designs for such a faculty retirement plan.
A survey was sent to retirement-eligible tenured faculty with their responses intended to inform the design of the program. A statistical summary of the survey results will be shared with the campus which indicates significant faculty interest in the program. Retirements under such a program would likely be following the 2011-12 academic year. Faculty retirements under such a program will be offset by corresponding hiring that is consistent with our strategically realigned academic programs, research foci and available resources. Faculty new to Howard will be hired with compensation and support levels that are nationally competitive. Based on performance, current faculty will be brought up to such nationally competitive levels on an aggressive schedule on the basis of a faculty compensation plan which I will announce. We will implement our faculty renewal and development plan in alignment with available financial resources.
To meet our strategic goals, we have exercised increased fiscal discipline, which turned years of operating deficits into a modest operating surplus last year and again this year. In 2008 when I arrived, the University's financial situation was precarious. Two and a half years later, I am pleased to report that the financial situation is more stable; fiscal 2010 ended with an operating surplus and, year-to-date fiscal 2011, we are bettering that trend. We just completed a restructuring of debt capital that provides predictability for future obligations and $100 million for academic and student-oriented projects.
However, we are not yet to the point of sustainability. We need to generate sufficient cash flow to satisfy both the legacy obligations and renewal initiatives that we want to pursue. On the legacy obligation side, we have to fund a substantial shortfall in the primary pension plan. We froze that plan at the end of fiscal 2009, but were left with over $100 million of underfunding. By law, we will have to make up that difference over the next several years beginning in fiscal 2012. On the renewal initiatives side, we will have to fund the current state to future state which will involve special situation payments to facilitate the transition.
As we look ahead, I am confident we can achieve our goals and objectives with sound financial management and organizational structure. It still costs too much to operate Howard administratively.
We will be moving to a more integrated, expert-driven model to support the essential academic, research and clinical activities as we begin fiscal 2012.
Institutional services such as finance, human resources, purchasing, information technology, and administrative support can be more effectively delivered for lower cost by consolidating, integrating, standardizing, and automating our current processes. The savings opportunities are significant.
To achieve our goals, I need your help. I need you to begin looking at everything you do as if it were your own money. Avoid adding costs when sharing or other reasonable alternatives are available. Embrace an integrated collaborative model that is focused on institutional goals, and avoid the tendency to utilize Howard's financial resources for more narrow personal or departmental goals.
Recently, the University floated new bonds, which will be supplemented by internal resources so that by Fall 2011 we will see cranes in place and renovation projects beginning across the campus.
The first phase of construction includes a high performance computational science center, a research building to support STEM and interdisciplinary teaching and research, two new student residence halls and numerous renovation projects.
In addition to the construction of new academic buildings and residence halls, our facilities improvement plan includes several major renovation projects that will support teaching, research, learning and student life across the campus. The plan includes renovation to Douglas and Locke Halls, the Fine Arts, Chemistry and Physics, Biology buildings, the C.B. Powell, Adams and Seely-Mudd facilities, the Schools of Dentistry and Architecture Buildings, the Cancer Center and the Howard Hospital.
I need to emphasize that it is the campus’ determination and willingness to sacrifice for its future that is now enabling the construction of new buildings and the renovation of existing ones in support of our faculty, students and staff.
Colleges, schools and departments across campus are placing increased emphasis on their local planning and decision making. This includes emphasis on fund raising and growing revenue streams to support their programs, sharpening the focus of programs to achieve excellence within available resources, and increasing the use of externally grounded metrics to measure their progress. While specific academic degree programs have been called out for the most significant changes, including program closure, planning for continuous program improvement is an on-going responsibility of every program. Where necessary, we need to narrow the range of what we do, and continuously improve efficiency, so that performance across the realms of teaching/learning, research, service and administrative support operations is fully nationally competitive and recognized as such.
We all have a responsibility to contribute to the enhancement of Howard. Provost Wyche and Senior Vice President Higginbotham are leading the implementation of the academic renewal changes approved by the Board. Open meetings to keep faculty informed and engaged have been held. In Academic Affairs, the Provost has held meetings with the faculty of each department which has one or more programs to be merged, transformed or closed. Current students in these programs have been notified and are being provided appropriate academic advising; and prospective students interested in programs which will no longer be available have been encouraged to select another degree program.
While there are many aspects of academic renewal which are underway in Academic Affairs, I will single out two. The first of these is substantial revision of our undergraduate program; the second is the creation of a Diaspora Studies Center and the Ronald Walters Center – named in honor of a distinguished member of this faculty and a giant in American and international affairs. The work of the last three years, including Middle States Self-Study groups, PCAR and various faculty-led efforts, has already set a solid foundation for both these efforts, eliminating the need to backtrack and re-plow the same ground.
After consultation with the Faculty Senate and others, next week Provost Wyche will appoint a broad-based committee which will recommend a comprehensive, integrated set of changes to Howard’s undergraduate program to assure that each graduate continues to acquire the foundation of a liberal education while being well prepared for citizenship, graduate study, careers, and which opens the door to a life of meaning and service.
Based on the work of PCAR and the Board of Trustees decisions, the proposed program should include a well-designed first year experience; University Learning Outcomes; a revised General Education/University Studies program; a program for on-going formative assessment of student learning and related student advising; and an integrative capstone experience. Our goal should be to increase intentionality and rigor, apply best practices and the latest findings in learning science and promote approaches that increase student responsibility for learning (e.g., more flexibility in each student’s program of study as overseen by faculty). I would encourage the committee to consider a mandatory service requirement.
The development of a Center for the Study of the African Diaspora is a core component of the academic renewal plan approved by the Board of Trustees. The importance of creating the Center is embedded in the centrality of Africa and the African Diaspora in the legacy of our institution. The Center is critical for developing a Howard University community around a diverse range of historical and current issues related to experiences, achievements, sensitivities, challenges and the potential of people of African descent, and will facilitate the development of partnerships with governments and civil society. The Provost will appoint a broadly representative faculty committee to develop plans for the Center.
Last week, the Board of Trustees approved the College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Science, Provost and my recommendation to offer a Ph.D. in Computer Science. It is an example of the implementation of an important component of academic renewal; development of doctoral level interdisciplinary degree programs in strategic areas and eliminating masters level programs in the context of our new computational science facility. This is an important initiative for the University that will engage faculty across the campus and advance our research agenda
Under the leadership of Senior Vice President Higginbotham, the Health Sciences Division recently completed its strategic plan which will guide its direction in the years ahead. As with Academic Affairs, Health Sciences has notified affected departments and students of Board decisions that affect them and is preparing detailed implementation plans. Senior Vice President Higginbotham, in collaboration with Dean Adderley-Kelly, appointed a committee to make recommendations about the alignment of Health Human Performance and Leisure Studies (HHPLS) with Nutritional Sciences, including the possibility of combining these programs, and a second committee to make recommendations about Health management, Pre-Physical Therapy and Radiation Therapy degree programs, with recommendations forthcoming in May 2011. Departmental planning and financial modeling are proceeding across Health Sciences, including initial planning for new hiring as faculty retire.
The university community has devoted considerable time to the development of a Faculty Performance Evaluation System (FPES). I want to thank Dean Alton Pollard, Drs. Walters and Smith and the other members of the university–wide FPES committee that worked with Drs. Higginbotham and Wyche to review the school and college FPES instruments that include common evaluative rubrics. The instruments are being tested this spring and will take effect on July 1, 2011, and serve as the basis for faculty performance evaluation going forward. I thank Drs. Wyche and Higginbotham for working with the deans and chairs to make sure they receive training in the use of the instruments.
The process that will result in the revision of the 1993 Faculty Handbook is underway. After consulting with Dr. Walters, Chair of the Faculty Senate and Drs. Higginbotham and Wyche, I have appointed an 18 member committee, Chaired by Dr. Alvin Thornton, to develop a revised Handbook for my review and approval by the Board of Trustees. As recommended by the Faculty Senate, I plan to initiate the process of creating an office of the Ombudsman by the end of this academic year. Additionally, I will appoint a faculty-led group to recommend how to best broaden the impact and visibility of Howard’s expertise and its related policy implications through the creation of a Howard Think Tank.
In parallel with the academic renewal efforts, the on-going “Administrative Review and Restructuring Program” (Administrative Renewal) will continue systematically and thoroughly to review the university’s service and support operations with the mandate to increase service levels and reduce cost to reach ‘best in class’ benchmarks. Our Chief Operating Officer Troy Stovall is leading this initiative.
The Students First campaign, which I began shortly after I arrived at Howard, continues with major impact: student voices and concerns are considered in every major decision in any area that impacts students; all of the changes are for the purpose of strengthening learning and the quality of student life here at Howard.
Innovative programming is taking place in the Student Affairs Division, led by Dr. Barbara Griffin. Revised integrated student orientation, strategic residential assignments that promote learning communities and student development, enhanced career and personal counseling, and more effective responses to students with special needs are among the activities taking place in the Student Affairs Division in collaboration with the Academic Affairs and Health Sciences Divisions. Our innovative student affairs programming, constructing new student residence hall facilities, building new teaching/learning facilities and bringing older facilities up to date, improving administrative operations, revising the undergraduate experience, and enhancing our graduate and professional programs, have one thing in common: they put students first.
We are continuing to build the Howard University of the future. In the next phase of the university’s development, we will remain a comprehensive metropolitan research university with increased excellence, an expanded international footprint, and an enhanced role in domestic affairs.
We will retain and enroll more high- achieving undergraduate students, and continue providing opportunities for students of potential. With the offering of an undergraduate teacher education degree and a focus on urban education and leadership development, we will address one of our nation’s major strategic objectives; providing qualified teachers for urban school systems. At all levels, the social and behavioral sciences, humanities, communications and cultural arts will continue to be major components of the university. We will strengthen them as we build our focused interdisciplinary STEM programs and continue to develop our health sciences enterprise and support our professional school programs in business, law, social work, divinity and pharmacy.
Howard’s commitment to renewal has not gone unnoticed, having received significant attention in the regional and national press and from alumni and the broader community. Other universities are inquiring what is happening here and our approach to managing change; notably, potential donors are beginning to step forward to further support our upward trajectory. We all need to continue to reach out to our communities, telling our story and requesting the support we need.
Our love of Howard and our strength as a community will see us, through the changes we must make so that Howard will be here, strong and vibrant, serving future generations of students and doing what we have for so long: producing leaders. I am asking each of us to do everything we can to guide, support and enhance our university and then a little bit more.
As we approach our 2011 commencement and the annual ceremony that will send another generation of graduates to provide leadership for the nation and the world, I want to thank you for all that you are doing for Howard University.
We will open the next academic year continuing ourfocus on academic renewal and our strategic priorities. I am looking forward to Howard’s participation in the inaugural Nation’s Classic football game, which will take place on September 10, 2011. We will renew our historic rivalry with Morehouse College. In addition to the game, President Franklin and I have agreed to sponsor academic symposia with other academic leaders focused on Black males.
We remain a strong and vibrant university whose status will only improve with the changes we are making. I look forward to your continued engagement with our historic academic renewal initiative.