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Author Topic: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself  (Read 1153 times)

Offline Bison 4 Life

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Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« on: December 14, 2010, 05:28:24 AM »


 
By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2010; 10:23 PM

Howard University is concluding the broadest academic review in its 143-year history, hoping to shed weak programs and bolster strong ones in order to compete in the increasingly fierce contest for America's top black scholars.

Howard offers 171 academic programs, an uncommonly large number for a university of 10,500 students. The range is a product of the institution's historic role as the epicenter of African American scholarship. But university leaders believe that the sheer number of offerings has become unwieldy, draining resources better spent pursuing excellence in core areas.

Howard will still turn out many of the nation's African American doctors and dentists, psychologists and engineers. But the university is considering cutting its undergraduate programs in philosophy, anthropology, the classics and even African studies - a specialty with symbolic importance to many in the Howard community. The school is keeping African American studies.

Altogether, Howard President Sidney Ribeau has proposed closing or reducing 20 undergraduate degree programs and at least that many graduate programs, based on recommendations forwarded by a Presidential Commission on Academic Renewal after a year-long review.

"You can't do everything at once," said Ribeau, who became the university's president in 2008.

Similar exercises in "academic renewal," driven by market forces and dwindling state funds, have happened at other colleges. But few have been so closely watched.

"The direction Howard goes in, that's the direction the African American community and the diaspora will go in. There's a lot of weight on it," said Brandon Harris, 21, a junior who is president of Howard's student association.

The tough choices at Howard reflect changing times for the nation's 105 historically black colleges and universities. Black colleges once held a monopoly on black students. Today, HBCUs compete with everyone else for the college-bound African American.

Top-tier schools - including Howard, Hampton University and Spelman and Morehouse colleges - vie with Harvard and Princeton for top black students and faculty. "Howard has positioned itself as a college that wants to attract the best and the brightest," said Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund. "There is a lot of competition for those students."

Some of the programs identified for possible reduction at Howard turn out only one or two degrees a year. Others have a faint pulse of academic scholarship, or duplicate the offerings of other departments. Some simply don't fit the school's mission as a hub of scholarship for the African diaspora.

Academic renewal has sparked passionate debate on campus. Few dispute the need to pare down the 171 programs. But when it comes to defending their own turf, some faculty members are less than magnanimous.

Ribeau proposes to close the bachelor's program in African studies, which yields about two degrees a year. A larger graduate program would be expanded. Still, some faculty members perceive retrenchment in a signature discipline.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/13/AR2010121305784.html


Offline DRUMMA1

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2010, 05:52:03 AM »
Interesting.

Offline Jaimac

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2010, 07:38:46 AM »
Other HBCUs should take note.
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.~

sutherngeorgian

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2010, 08:47:06 AM »
This is going to be really interesting in how this will turn out. I just hope it doesn't turn ugly and the media takes hold to it and turn positive outlook of Howard into something negative. But, Howard does need to upgrade their facilities, in order to, be competitive in the nation's capitol. Howard is competing against universities such as Georgetown and George Washington, in terms of, getting the best and the brightest.

that's all...

Offline NovaSkegee

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Howard University: Staying Competitive or Becoming Uniform?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2010, 05:25:51 PM »
December 15, 2010

Howard University: Staying Competitive or Becoming Uniform?



By R. Asmerom

Howard University is in a critical phase right now. While many continue to question the need of HBCUs in this day and age, the University is going through an academic renewal, by which it is seeking to cut down on departments in order to strengthen other academic offerings. According to the Washington Post, the university is considering cutting its undergraduate programs in philosophy, anthropology, the classics and even African studies.

Although Howard’s intentions are in line with making the school more efficient financially and more focused academically, cuts to certain programs like undergraduate African studies raises questions as to how these changes will impact the identity and legacy of a college which defines itself as being in service to Black studies and Black students.

“Howard University has to demonstrate more than a symbolic commitment,” said Dr. Anthony Samad, professor of political science and African American studies at East Los Angeles College.  “Getting rid of African studies is troubling from the perspective that colleges with large African American populations cannot be ignorant about Africa and claim they advance a total and complete global perspective. That’s a perpetuation of what has occurred in America’s study of Africa and the stereotypes that have come out of an uneducated perspective. It’s like Harvard or Yale discontinuing the study of Europe. It just wouldn’t happen.”

At the same time Samad says that he appreciates the efforts of the school to do whatever it takes to heighten its productivity.  “Howard is not a Black University. “It must keep current on global curricula that make its graduates competitive in the global space.”

Howard, which is one of the top schools amongst the 105 HBCUs, is competing against not just other Black schools but the top schools in the country to recruit the top Black students.  Although Howard is “the leading producer of on-campus African American doctorates and the nation’s only historically black institution identified as a first-tier “Research I” university,” competition is stiff and administration believes that cutting down on its 171 programs will free up more resources to focus on its professional programs like that in medicine, law, dentistry and nursing as well as social work, psychology, business and pharmacology.

“You can’t do everything at once,” said Howard’s President Sidney Ribeau to the Washington Post. One of the 20 undergraduate programs on the chopping block is philosophy. Howard’s philosophy department is significant in that it represents the only philosophy department at a historically black college and a major source of Africana philosophy. A Save Howard Philosophy petition has attracted more than a thousand signatures according to the Post.

Students, past and present, have expectantly mixed reaction to the school’s evolution. “Change is not necessarily a bad thing,” said Queshia Bradley, a 2006 graduate of Howard. “As I understand it, the undergraduate programs that are being cut have a very low student enrollment.  So why not reign in resources by cutting down the 171 programs Howard offers?”  It will be interesting to see how matriculation will be affected by the changes, especially amongst those who value a liberal arts focus. “The other side of the coin is that [Howard may be] robbing these students of an experience just because their focus isn’t valued,” said Bradley. “Which raises the bigger question not just on how Howard is devaluing these programs, but how educational institutions generally support more tangible programs [like engineering and business].

Spelman alumnus and cofounder of the HBCU site AUCAlumni.com, Tiffani Murray, believes that Howards’ remodeling is strictly a business decision and one that will help the institution remain strong and relevant for many years to come. “I think that the school could continue to operate and fund departments and professors that have a low enrollment, but at what cost?,” she asked. “We can look at some of the HBCUs that have closed their doors in the past decade and think that if some choices had been made differently or strategies employed they could still have students attending them. I think if it is a choice of making changes that will keep HBCUs in operation and competitive with mainstream schools that are attracting the same top students or keeping programs and the risk of the schools going into debt, the choice is clear.”

http://atlantapost.com/2010/12/15/howard-university-staying-competetive-or-becoming-uniform/

Offline NovaSkegee

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Howard University in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2010, 05:29:27 PM »
Howard University in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself


Howard University is drawing up plans to trim an unwieldy curriculum to focus resources on key programs. (Doug Kapustin For The Washington Post)


By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 13, 2010

Howard University is concluding the broadest academic review in its 143-year history, hoping to shed weak programs and bolster strong ones in order to compete in the increasingly fierce contest for America's top black scholars.

Howard offers 171 academic programs, an uncommonly large number for a university of 10,500 students. The range is a product of the institution's historic role as the epicenter of African American scholarship. But university leaders believe that the sheer number of offerings has become unwieldy, draining resources better spent pursuing excellence in core areas.

Howard will still turn out many of the nation's African American doctors and dentists, psychologists and engineers. But the university is considering cutting its undergraduate programs in philosophy, anthropology, the classics and even African studies - a specialty with symbolic importance to many in the Howard community. The school is keeping African American studies.

Altogether, Howard President Sidney Ribeau has proposed closing or reducing 20 undergraduate degree programs and at least that many graduate programs, based on recommendations forwarded by a Presidential Commission on Academic Renewal after a year-long review.

"You can't do everything at once," said Ribeau, who became the university's president in 2008.

Similar exercises in "academic renewal," driven by market forces and dwindling state funds, have happened at other colleges. But few have been so closely watched.

"The direction Howard goes in, that's the direction the African American community and the diaspora will go in. There's a lot of weight on it," said Brandon Harris, 21, a junior who is president of Howard's student association.

The tough choices at Howard reflect changing times for the nation's 105 historically black colleges and universities. Black colleges once held a monopoly on black students. Today, HBCUs compete with everyone else for the college-bound African American.

Top-tier schools - including Howard, Hampton University and Spelman and Morehouse colleges - vie with Harvard and Princeton for top black students and faculty. "Howard has positioned itself as a college that wants to attract the best and the brightest," said Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund. "There is a lot of competition for those students."

Some of the programs identified for possible reduction at Howard turn out only one or two degrees a year. Others have a faint pulse of academic scholarship, or duplicate the offerings of other departments. Some simply don't fit the school's mission as a hub of scholarship for the African diaspora.

Academic renewal has sparked passionate debate on campus. Few dispute the need to pare down the 171 programs. But when it comes to defending their own turf, some faculty members are less than magnanimous.

Ribeau proposes to close the bachelor's program in African studies, which yields about two degrees a year. A larger graduate program would be expanded. Still, some faculty members perceive retrenchment in a signature discipline.

"If it is eliminated, we fear it might send the wrong message to other institutions around the country and around the world as far as what Howard is about, what Howard stands for," said Mbye Cham, the department's chairman.

Ribeau also would discontinue the philosophy major, possibly merging the department with two others devoted to classics and religious studies.

Howard's is the only freestanding philosophy department at a historically black college and a major source of Africana philosophy; it was once chaired by Alain Locke, the first African American Rhodes scholar. A Save Howard Philosophy petition has attracted more than a thousand signatures.

"Any serious university ought to have a philosophy department," said Kwame Anthony Appiah, chairman of the American Philosophical Association.

The classics major is among Howard's oldest, originating with a group of African American intellectuals who met to read Greek and Latin.

Howard is the only historically black school with a classics department. It has produced a Rhodes scholar and engaging events such as a two-day marathon reading of "The Iliad." The department graduates about seven students a year.

Howard leaders say they recognize the university's role as a pipeline of black scholars. Howard is the leading producer of on-campus African American doctorates and the nation's only historically black institution identified as a first-tier "Research I" university.

Critics "make the arguments that without Howard, their disciplines would not be as diverse. To a large extent, that's true, " said Alvin Thornton, a renowned Howard scholar who led the academic review under Ribeau. "The question is, can Howard continue to be the source of that diversity across such a broad list of disciplines?"

The consensus is that it cannot. Instead, university leaders want to concentrate limited resources on a shorter list of programs with high-quality faculty and research, sustainable enrollment and adequate facilities.

Howard's academic programs multiplied during the two-decade tenure of President James Cheek, who tripled graduate programs while building the university into a major research institution in the 1970s and 1980s. But some programs, stymied by inadequate resources and archaic facilities, struggled from the start.

Howard is known today for professional programs in medicine and law, dentistry and nursing. Other strong graduate programs include social work, psychology, business and pharmacology.

To compete, Ribeau said, those programs need modern classrooms, state-of-the-art labs and first-rate, well-paid faculty. That can come only at the cost of running fewer programs and paying fewer professors, he said. He has promised that all cuts to tenured faculty will come through attrition.

Many of the proposed reductions come in areas, such as hospitality management and nutritional sciences, that Howard students might study at nearby community colleges. Ribeau said he wants to explore similar partnerships with four-year colleges.

The final academic renewal plan will be published next month. It will refocus Howard on research that resonates among Africans and African Americans: clean water, AIDS and cancer, urban education, public policy.

Ribeau also wants to stress science, technology, engineering and math, answering the national call for more minority scholars in those fields. That is a controversial stance, particularly among humanities scholars. Disciplines such as philosophy and classics are essential, they say, to the character-building at the core of a Howard education.

"I'm just worried about the conception of education that's being put forward here," said Eddie Glaude, chairman of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton.

Ribeau and Thornton, the architects of Howard's transformation plan, feel all the talk of cuts has overshadowed significant proposed improvements.

One goal, universally embraced, is to break down the strict divisions between the school's academic departments and usher in a new era of "interdisciplinarity," with departments sharing faculty and dollars, collaborating on teaching and research, and eliminating duplication.

Another proposal would build on Howard's elaborate system of academic checks and balances to ensure students learn the basics. New summer and winter "bridge" programs and first-year English and math seminars would push all freshmen toward proficiency, with progress measured in frequent assessments. Every student would have a mentor in a field of interest. More faculty would live near campus.

"We wanted to make sure that we were the best," Ribeau said, "so that we could attract and prepare the best."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/13/AR2010121305784.html?wprss=rss_metro

Offline Bison 4 Life

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2010, 11:56:56 PM »
Nova,


Why are you posting the same original article? That makes zero sense.

Offline JBROB

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2010, 05:51:12 AM »
Keep Philosophy.

sutherngeorgian

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2010, 08:25:42 AM »
I was thinking the same thing, B4L.  ???

that's all...

Offline Shelt from Skegee

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2010, 10:36:48 AM »
I was thinking the same thing, B4L.  ???

that's all...

Actually I was thinking that this is one that will get dropped.  Strictly from a practicality standpoint.  Other than work in academia, what does one do with a Philosophy degree these days?  I guess it will come down to dollars and cents with a determination of how many students are matriculating in this major at Howard.

Offline Golden Kitten

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2010, 12:22:45 PM »
B4L,

Do you know if there are any plans, withing the proposed restructuring, to add or upgrade programs?


Teeny and Little

Offline Oldschoolram

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2010, 02:39:49 PM »
I'm glad someone started this thread since I couldn't get to the computer when I wanted.

Sounds like a GREAT idea to me. 

Offline Bison 4 Life

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2010, 12:01:06 AM »
B4L,

Do you know if there are any plans, withing the proposed restructuring, to add or upgrade programs?

GK,

We've always had plans. the follow-thru is the hard part for us.

http://pcar.howard.edu/PCAR/Reports/PCAR-Executive-Report-6-4-10-final.pdf

Offline EB

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Re: Howard in flux: An HBCU reinvents itself
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2010, 06:48:10 AM »
Here are some comments to the article.

----------

Quote
As recent graduate from the College of Medicine, I totally agree with the changes the University is making. Far too long HU has tried to be everything to everyone. Hopefully, the University can provide some much need funding and attention to the Medical school and hospital. By the way turned down a scholarship from Brown to go to an HBCU. Never once had any regrets.

 
Quote
Attract the best BLACK STUDENTS....uh, Black preferential recruiting is a violation of the civil rights of other, more deserving minorities....or hasn't anyone told Howard yet?

Quote
probably once attracted scholars that were denied education in toerh institutions....
Now a vestage of the past serving those who continue to think they are attending a top notch U,but aren't,and likley catering to racist blacks....

Quote
As recent graduate from the College of Medicine, I totally agree with the changes the University is making. Far too long HU has tried to be everything to everyone. Hopefully, the University can provide some much need funding and attention to the Medical school and hospital. By the way turned down a scholarship from Brown to go to an HBCU. Never once had any regrets.

Quote
Some of you posting here have no clue about Howard University - I will put my intellect, knowledge, education, etc... cultivated and nourished from the teet of the Great HU up against any of you fools any day. I guarantee I will come out on top, smelling like a rose and looking good while I'm doing it.

 

 

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