Friday, October 7, 2011

Is Howard University the Worst-Run HBCU in the Country?

by Raynard Jackson

Howard University, in Washington, DC, is one of the elite Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the U.S.  Howard students are quick to call their school the “real H U!”  The reason is so they won’t be confused with another well know HBCU—Hampton University.

But after years of frustrating experiences with Howard University, I have come to the conclusion that they are truly the “real H U.”  But, in this case, the H U stands for “Horrible University.”

Over the years, I have regularly presented Howard and its student’s opportunities to make money and to further the mission of their school—to educate Black students.

Last week, I was called by a friend and asked to find 2 law students she could interview for internships in her government agency.  I told her I would call Howard’s law school and have them call her.  I talked with a woman in their career placement office and she said she would call my friend.  A week later and my friend still has not heard from the school.

So, 2 days ago, I decided to call George Washington University’s Law School (GW)—a predominantly white school in Washington, DC.  I told them I needed two Black law students to consider for internships.  Less than an hour later, my friend was contacted by GW and 2 lucky students are on the verge of getting an internship!

If my negative experience with Howard was an isolated incident, then I could shrug it off to a thing called life—sometimes things happen.  But, this is not the case.

Earlier this year, I called the president of Howard University and offered the school a chance to be the venue for a series of Republican presidential candidates town hall forums.  I am still waiting for them to give me an answer. 

Several years ago, a friend of mine who owned all the Dominoes Pizzas in this area, offered to give the school a free franchise that the students could run.  The only stipulation was that the school donates the space.  According to our calculations, each student would have earned about   $ 10,000 per year.  I have yet to get a response from the school, almost 10 years later!

So, yes Howard, you are the “real H U--” horrible university!  So, Howard, you win.  I will not attempt to provide any further opportunities to the school, nor its students.

Howard University has a storied past, but not such a storied present.  Howard has got to be the worst run HBCU in the country.  I had this conversation with a current student at Howard yesterday at a restaurant and she agreed with me 100%.

To Howard and its students, why can I never seem to get a simple response when I try to present opportunities to you?  Even if you are not interested, a definitive response would have been appreciated.  But that seems too much to ask.  Yet, white institutions seem to respond immediately to any offer I present to them.

God has blessed me in many ways, so my only obligation is to reach out my hand, not attempt to make someone take my hand. 

In the immortal words of Sir Winston Churchill, “To everyman (or organization) there comes a time when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a great and might work; unique to him and fitted to his talents; what a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the moment that could be his finest hour.”  Unfortunately, Howard University has been found both unprepared and unqualified!

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (, Freedom’s Journal Magazine (, and U.S. Africa Magazine (


Anonymous said...

Wow...this is horrible and disgusting. This is why we get a bad rep, they could've returned calls and handled this professional. The folks in power obviously don't care about Howard!

Anonymous said...

Or, maybe they care about Howard & didn't care enough about your ideas to call you back.

Anonymous said...

100% correct. I attended Howard and the smug individuals in charge are only interested in themselves. That may sound to general of a statement but it is true of every dept. at Howard. They have no concern for the students or university as a whole. I wouldn't be surprised if investigations revealed that dept heads were stealing money.

Anonymous said...

The internship may have been a good opportunity, it wasn't professional for someone not to call back. However, the Dominoes franchise was not necessarily a great idea and very reasonable for someone not to call back on that one. Don't spend your time trying to help students at Howard University, if it bothers you that much. But to call it the worst run HBCU is unreasonable, your article gives to anecdotes and nothing about any other HBCU. Spend your time elsewhere. thx!

Anonymous said...

This article is horrible. It is incredibly presumptive to think that just because Howard has not taken advantage of opportunities you presented that somehow this invalidates HU. You are not Oprah?! Further I dare say that if you made these offers to any self-respecting school they mitt not have answered you as well. You have felt slighted and you take up space with a personal gripe. I am ashamed of the editors giving you space to vent this poorly argued piece that is simply an ad hominem attack. There is good reason that Howard did not respond to you and besides this is an educational institution not a corporate entity. Your overtures were selfish and in the words of Joe Clark: "and that's why I threw that black bastard out and that is all I am gonna say."

Anonymous said...

The conclusions presented in this fallacious article are unduly audacious and illogical because they transfer a couple of unpleasant experiences to the sweeping conclusion that Howard University is the worst run historically black university. I cannot even consider this as a slightly credible article after reading it.
First, the author has not even attempted to compare Howard to any other HBCU, and thus there is absolutely no demonstration to lead to his terrible conclusion. Instead, the author pits Howard against George Washington University. This is problematic for several reasons. (A) The title of the article purports to conclude that--amongst HBCUs--Howard is the worst, when the methodology compares Howard to an HWCU(historically white college or university); and thus, the conclusion should be that Howard is the worst college or university in the country. (B) When following that methodology, the argument is very scant because this is only a comparison of two schools -- thus, the warranted conclusion should be that GWU is better than HU. (C) The assertion that GWU is better than HU cannot be established from one experience alone that could be owed to chance and seems to rest in the bias of a man being humiliated by the absence of reciprocity to his efforts.
(D) Further, outside of his personal experience, there are some historical and racial factors that could lead this author to assume that GWU is better than HU. The author does not seriously attempt to address or dispel this potential bias, and thus readers are left to wonder if he simply equates white with better and black with worse. (E) The author unfairly compares two institutions that are unequal in resource and simply dissimilar in the objectives they seek to achieve. (F) Finally, as I have avoiding introducing my personal perspective until this point, I will now: As a Howard University Alumna and current Howard law student, I will introduce another factor obviously overlooked by the author -- the abundance of opportunities presented to Howard students on a daily basis. Now, I am not suggesting that Howard has "enough" opportunities and does not need more for its students. However, I think the author fails to realize that Howard undergrad, graduate, and professional students have amazing career services advocates who present students with opportunities and events daily. The sheer number and frequency of these opportunities sometimes numbs the student, and students thus have more discretion in deciding what opportunities they will take and what days they simply need to study, etc. The effect is an atmosphere where students are selective of and demystified by claims of "one in a lifetime" opportunities.
Transfer this to a school (like GWU) that probably does not offer as many minority-oriented opportunities. Accordingly, black students at those school are jumping at opportunities that are expressly "for them." It is appropriate because those opportunities are less frequent and abundant. So, a serious recruiter must vary his or her approach when moving through the different contexts of a Howard and a GW. A recruiter must understand his Howard audience and know that Howard students have calendars and planners full of "minority-oriented" events. Thus, it will take (1) a stronger appeal and (2) a more advanced notice for Howard students to treat your event as priority. Act accordingly.

Anonymous said...

I would caution the author in further instances to check personally held assumptions and fortify weak logic before publishing such a damaging conclusion (in a headline no less) and spreading mass ignorance. Despite his allegedly genuine efforts to help Howard University, he has turned around and attempted to hurt it. In my opinion, the author has abused the power of his pen, and victimized the minds of those with little firsthand knowledge of Howard University. To the parent and potential student of the university, I implore you to investigate a little further (because a little investigation is all it will take) before accepting the ill-founded conclusions of an author likely marred by humiliation and frustration.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hey you should try to see how gw would respond to your dominoes idea and your republican town hall thing. Try that out! (lol)

R_U Serious said...

no matter your 'personal spin/ A person trusted to perform a professional duty( assist the students) failed to do so in a timely manner. the "openningsfor 2 interns" was the request or hint. No matter the relationship or beant from the author of this article. Pros act in a 'timely manner'

The Watcher said...

I worked at Howard from 2001-2006. The university is administratively just making it. The best thing functioning at Howard is the Homecoming game and surrounding events. If the administration concentrated on the efficient governing of the school like the game the school would deserve the title the real "HU". Administrators are very short sited,lack creativity, and not proactive regarding the student needs at all,they are out of touch with the students on every level...

Anonymous said...

Even with citing these incidents-they are by far not the worse HBCU out there-at least they are accredited!

Anonymous said...

In the summer of 1991 I was interning in the HR Department of Ford Motor Company's World Headquarters. One of my responsibilities was to create 2 separate scholarship programs for African-American and Hispanic engineering students. Ford was giving away tens of thousands of dollars to several different universities. Why was Howard the only school unresponsive to multiple phone calls and letters, where they were asked to identify deserving students for Ford's scholarship selection committee to consider? Seems like things haven't much changed.

Eddie Francis said...

First, this is a blog, people. The author is the editor. Second, it's his opinion and everyone is entitled to one. Third, those who love Howard would not only defend the university but also challenge the administration with these public concerns.

As the P.R. director at a fellow HBCU which has been publicly dragged through the mud, I have learned to (1) never get emotional, (2) consider the sources of criticisms, and (3) challenge folks internally when these types of pieces pop up. The best way to respond is with facts.

At the end of the day, it's not personal; it's business. The order of the day, in the higher education marketplace, is to provide students and stakeholders with an efficiently run and customer-service friendly institution besides a quality education. All the tradition and hero worship from the past doesn't help in 2011.

Eddie Francis said...

Oops, check that. I'm realizing that this isn't the author's blog. Still, it's his opinion. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure if the opportunities you mentioned were in some way told to the students directly and not relying on the faculty and/or staff you would have gotten a better response from those of the student body. But relying solely on the hands and "powers" of the "authorities" or "people in charge" more than likely the message will not be received.

~A Recent UNEMPLOYED Howard Alum

Anonymous said...

October 8, 2011..12:51...Bravo. I held my breath reading every single sentence. Bravo!

someone said...

Since when do comparisons of TWO almost unrelated (i.e, Howard and GW are both universities and they are both in D.C.) variables hold enough data to support a hypothesis about ALL (i.e., "...all Black Universities")? If you must generalize based on your narrow base of information, just say "I think..."
Howard University IS one of the best universities in the U.S., period, so shut up with your "wah-wah, they didn't bite my hook." Howard University doesn't need your opinion. Everyone has one - like a$$es.