The National Public Radio (NPR) news and information mid-day program “Here and Now” reported today that Howard University’s students began classes last week in an environment where the future of this historic institution may be seriously threatened. The University has suffered from financial worries in the recent past, partly the result of the recession the entire nation has experienced since the banking catastrophe that happened just as Barack Obama, the first black President, was inaugurated.
One Howard University trustee even warned last Spring that the school “will not be here in three years if we don’t make some crucial decisions now.” A group of Howard’s deans then suggested in a letter to the trustees that “fiscal mismanagement is doing irreparable harm to the University’s academic programs, institutional reputation and future viability.”
The University then made an announcement that it will be cutting at least 75 positions, in an effort to tighten the belt.’
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that has”produced more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States;“ and in the past 15 years, produced a Marshall Scholar, two Truman Scholars, two Rhodes Scholars, 30 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. In its schools and colleges, its students are pursuing studies in over 120 areas at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and in professional degrees.
In response to the need for flexibility on the part of students who are finding it greatly challenging to afford a college education, Howard announced plans earlier this month to partner with the online learning specialists at Pearson:
Today, Howard University announced “Howard University Online,” part of a comprehensive initiative that will expand the flagship research University’s array of blended/online courses and programs in partnership with Pearson.
Pearson, one of the world’s leading providers of online services to higher education, has been engaged as the University’s strategic partner in this effort. Howard will offer select online degree programs in the fall 2014-2015 academic year with the goal of creating up to 25 online programs over the next few years.
In his interview with Zachary R. Williams, author of the 2009 book, “In Search of the Talented Tenth: Howard University Public Intellectuals and the Dilemmas of Race, 1926-1970,” in Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik writes “In the era before desegregation, Howard University was home to a constellation of black intellectual leaders — professors who shaped public discussion about race and who built a vibrant intellectual community, even as they faced bigotry outside the university’s gates.”
The ‘public intellectuals’ Williams describes — including W. E. B. Du Bois, the individual generally accepted to be of truly iconic stature in his time -– and his encountering the use of the expression “the talented tenth,” and “the color line,” or “the veil,” to describe how the elite segment of the African-American culture — especially in the work of Manning Marable, David Levering Lewis, and Joy James, had intrigued Williams to look at this more closely.
As recently as August of 2012 saw the release of “It’s All About Team: Exposing the Black Talented Tenth,” by former Superbowl Champion Burgess Owens.
An article by Michael Winston, entitled “The Negro Scholar in Historical Perspective” which appeared in “Daedalus,” focusing on the work of Ralph Bunche on foreign policy — and work of the Negro family, Negro youth, black economic development and on ending legalized segregation, by E. Franklin Frazier, Abram Harris, Charles Houston, and Charles H. Thompson – and Kenneth Janken’s biography of Rayford W. Logan, Howard University’s historian, had provoked him to write a fuller version of what he calls “an incisive chapter on the Golden Years at Howard.
Black scholar and public intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois popularized the phrase in an article entitled “The Talented Tenth,” which appeared initially in September of 1903 in a book entitled, The Negro Problem. The concept gained increasing popularity with Du Bois’ publication of his landmark book of essays, The Souls of Black Folk in 1903. Du Bois, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, himself a staunch advocate of classical education, believed that the top 10 percent of the black race would serve as the leadership vanguard of the race, elevating the remaining 90 percent by their efforts, achievements and advocacy. Later, Du Bois revised his earlier pronouncements regarding the role of the black elite in racial advancement, instead advocating a more significant role for the black masses in assuming black leadership and promoting social change within the race. …
In some ways, these race men and women simultaneously were before their time, products of their times, and situated right in time. Using as public vehicles, commentaries in the black press, articles, speeches, books, and other forms of expression such as poetry, they advanced a paradigm shift in thinking about race and culture, even as they struggled to hammer out any definitive school of thought on these matters and others.
In January of this year, Howard University’s Board of Trustees approved only an increase in tuition for its graduate and professional schools, ranging from 0 to 8 percent for the 2013-14 academic year, while five graduate programs actually experienced no change in tuition.