UPDATE: Howard University Responds to Leaked Letter with ‘Balanced’ Budgets Info

Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, Vice Chairwoman of Howard University' Board of Trustees, exposed Howard University's bleak financial outlook and irresponsible management in a letter published by the Chronicles of Higher Education, April 24, 2013.
Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, Vice Chairwoman of Howard University’ Board of Trustees, exposed Howard University’s bleak financial outlook and irresponsible management of the university in a letter published by the Chronicles of Higher Education, April 24, 2013.

The Howard University debacle that we reported Monday, with a letter from Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, vice chairwoman of Howard’s board of trustees, saying that “Howard will not be here in three years if we don’t make some crucial decisions now.”

The letter sparked so much controversy throughout the Howard University community that the chair of the university’s governing board Addison Rand, came back with a formal letter of his own stating that “without proper context [the letter] paints an unduly alarming picture of the University’s condition.” 

But according to the March Washington Post report we included in our report Monday, it exposed a bleak financial forecast as well as unexplained “outrageous bonuses” equaling $1 million in 2010, that according to Howard:

“The one-time payments were made to three top administrators who agreed to stay at the historically black university for three years during a change of presidents, according to a statement from Howard. The retention agreements were signed in 2007 and matured on June 30, 2010. The financial incentives were needed “to ensure the continuity of senior leadership in critical areas and mitigate any potential risks for the University,” according to the statement.”

But that may be one of many financial issues that had not been discussed with the Howard community with the utmost transparency that they are promising to offer in the future.  It is apparent that Higginbotham-Brooks’ letter was necessary as students watch the tuition rise and educational cuts are made.

In Rand’s letter he states:

“As a result of fiscal discipline, we have balanced our budget for three consecutive years, actively managed cash flow and restored the endowment to pre-recession levels of more than $500 million.”

But again, the media appears to be leaning toward the information in the letter from Higginbotham-Brooks.  After Addison Rand’s letter, the Huffington Post reported:

“The credit-rating firm Moody’s gave Howard an A3 rating in 2011, with a negative outlook, The Washington Post reports, meaning the university is at the level they need to be but there was pressure providing a higher chance of a downgrade.

Moody’s said the university rdid “reduce expenses by streamlining the university’s educational offerings,” but still faces challenges, like depending on a budget-cutting federal government for 27 percent of their operating revenue.

As of August 2012, Standard & Poor’s gave them an A-/Negative rating, citing similar reasons as Moody’s did.”

Read the full letter from Addison Rand here.  We have also attached a copy of the official letter below.

-J.C. Brooks

howard chair letter response 1

howard chair letter response 2

howard chair letter response 3

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