Letter to the Howard University Community
July 5, 2011
Dear Howard University Community:
The 2010-2011 academic year was one of continued transformation and change at the University. Since January 2011 when the Board of Trustees unanimously approved our historic academic program renewal recommendations, we have aggressively moved forward to implement our renewal plans. We remain committed to vision priorities championing excellence in teaching, learning, research and service that cause us to “reinvest to renew”.
We have placed academic program renewal at the center of our efforts; supporting it are other renewal initiatives (faculty, administrative and staff, facilities) as well as the Students First initiative. Together, they will enable us to align our strategic priorities with available resources as we make the required academic program, personnel and resource investments.
Our faculty renewal efforts are on schedule and moving forward. Assisted by the work of an advisory committee that I appointed, a Phased Retirement Program (PRP) for faculty was designed. It was subsequently approved by the Board of Trustees. The PRP offers opportunities to eligible faculty who have given dedicated long-term service to the University, and voluntarily choose to retire, either immediately or by progressively reducing their workload as PRP participants.
In support of our facilities renewal initiative, which has three phases, we have secured funds from the bond market to allow us to launch Phase I – renovating a number of existing facilities and constructing several new ones. Our friends and supporters purchased the bonds and now expect us to deliver on our promise to position Howard for the future while maintaining a financially sustainable environment.
Administrative and staff renewal is also an essential part of our efforts. We must become efficient in all that we do, improving services, removing duplication and reducing costs. Adjustments in our administrative processes and staffing patterns, combined with other renewal initiatives, will help meet our budgetary obligations and invest in our strategic priorities.
As you may know, the economic recession delayed our capital improvements and left us with an underfunded pension plan and a reduced endowment. In addition, it required us to devote substantially more resources than in previous years to support student financial aid. Going forward we face the prospect of diminishing support for both education and health care. We must continue reducing operating costs to generate the funds needed to satisfy existing obligations, to offer pay raises this year and to build on our legacy and invest in our future.
To reach our goals, we will have to reduce our staff in selected functional areas, starting with procurement, human resources, technology support and financial services. Beginning in August, some administrative and staff positions will be eliminated, combined and transformed to avoid duplication, to increase efficiency and to reduce costs in administrative services. Affected employees will be notified.
I have held briefing sessions regarding our renewal initiatives and specific adjustments in the University’s staff with academic deans and the leadership of both the Faculty Senate and the staff organization. Beginning next week, a detailed progress report for Academic Program Renewal, Faculty Renewal, Facilities Renewal, Administrative and Staff Renewal and the Students First initiative will be available to the campus via a “renewals” website linked to my website www.Howard.edu/president, which I will keep updated.
We are actively reaffirming our mission and the University’s core values. We do not take lightly the difficult decisions required including reductions in our staff, making necessary adjustments in our academic programs, improving support for faculty while engaging in a broad faculty renewal process, realigning our approach for the delivery of administrative services to improve service level and reduce costs, and developing budgeting and financial management systems that support our strategic goals.
We thank you for the contributions you have made to Howard University. As I have done in the past, I will keep you informed regarding the progress we are making and seek your input about important decisions.
Sidney A. Ribeau
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