Howard University

Howard University is a private, coeducational, nonsectarian university located in Washington, D.C., United States.


Established on March 2, 1867 under a charter enacted by Congress and approved by President Andrew Johnson, the college was named after General Oliver O. Howard who was commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau and the college's third president. A historically black university, the college currently ranks 96th among national universities in the U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges 2008" rankings. Howard University is the number-one producer of African American Ph.D.s in the United States. It is often known as the Black Harvard.

Howard was established by a charter in 1867, and much of its early funding came from endowment, private benefaction, and tuition. An annual congressional appropriation administered by the Secretary of the Interior funded the school. Today, it is a member school of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund and is partially funded by the US Government, which gives approximately $235 million annually. From its outset, it was nonsectarian and open to people of both sexes and all races. Howard has graduate schools of pharmacy, law, medicine, dentistry and divinity, in addition to the undergraduate program. The current enrollment (as of 2003) is approximately 11,000, including 7,000 undergraduates. The university's football homecoming activities serve as one of the premier annual events in Washington.

Howard University has played an important role in American history and the Civil Rights Movement on a number of occasions. Alain Locke, Chair of the Department of Philosophy and first African American Rhodes Scholar, authored The New Negro, which helped to usher in the Harlem Renaissance. Ralph Bunche, the first Nobel Peace Prize winner of African descent, served as chair of the Department of Political Science. Stokely Carmichael, also known as Kwame Toure, a student in the Department of Philosophy and the Howard University School of Divinity coined the term "Black Power" and worked in Lowndes County, Alabama as a voting rights activist. Historian Rayford Logan served as chair of the Department of History. E. Franklin Frazier served as chair of the Department of Sociology. Sterling Allen Brown served as chair of the Department of English.

After being refused admission to the then-white-only University of Maryland School of Law, a young Lincoln University graduate Thurgood Marshall enrolled at Howard University School of Law instead. There he studied under Charles Hamilton Houston, a Harvard Law School graduate and leading civil rights lawyer who at the time was the dean of Howard's law school. Houston took Marshall under his wing, and the two forged a friendship that would last for the remainder of Houston's life. Howard University was the site where Marshall and his team of legal scholars from around the nation prepared to argue the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.

Presidents of Howard University
1867 Charles B. Boynton
1867 – 1869 Byron Sunderland
1869 – 1874 Oliver Otis Howard
1875 – 1876 Edward P. Smith
1877 – 1889 William W. Patton
1890 – 1903 Jeremiah E. Rankin
1903 – 1906 John Gordon
1906 – 1912 Wilbur P. Thirkield
1912 – 1918 Stephen M. Newman
1918 – 1926 J. Stanley Durkee
1926 – 1960 Mordecai Wyatt Johnson
1960 – 1969 James M. Nabrit
1969 – 1989 James E. Cheek
1990 – 1994 Franklyn G. Jenifer
1994-1995 Joyce A. Ladner
1995 – 2008 H. Patrick Swygert
2008 – present Sidney A. Ribeau
In 1918, all the secondary schools of the university were abolished and the whole plan of undergraduate work changed. The four-year college course was divided into two periods of two years each, the Junior College, and the Senior Schools. The semester system was abolished in 1919 and the quarter system substituted. Twenty-three new members were added to the faculty between the reorganization of 1918 and 1923. A dining hall building with class rooms for the department of home economics was built in 1921 at a cost of $301,000. A greenhouse was erected in 1919. Howard Hall was renovated and made a dormitory for girls; many improvements were made on campus; J. Stanley Durkee, Howard's last white president, was appointed in 1918.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered a speech to the graduating class at Howard, where he outlined his plans for civil rights legislation and endorsed aggressive affirmative action to combat the effects of years of segregation of blacks from the nation's economic opportunities.

In 1989, Howard gained national attention when students rose up in protest against the appointment of then-Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater as a new member of the university's Board of Trustees. Student activists disrupted Howard's 122nd anniversary celebrations, and eventually occupied the university's Administration building. Within days, both Atwater and Howard's President, James E. Cheek, resigned.

In April 2007 the head of the faculty senate called for the ouster of Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert, saying that the school was in a state of crisis and it was time to end “an intolerable condition of incompetence and dysfunction at the highest level.” This came on the heels of several criticisms of Howard University and its management. A National Science Foundation audit condemned Howard’s management of several federal research grants. The Division of Nursing faced losing its accreditation and being placed on probation for a second time because of the program's deficiencies. The Division of Allied Health Science, Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant program are also on probational accreditation status. In addition, the residency programs at Howard University Hospital received a much-publicized unfavorable assessment by the Accrediting Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Swygert announced in May 2007 he would retire from Howard in June 2008.

On May 7, 2008 Howard announced the appointment of Sidney Ribeau of Bowling Green State University to the presidency of Howard.


Major improvements, additions, and changes occurred at the school in the aftermath of World War I. New buildings were built under the direction of architect Albert Cassell.


Schools and colleges

Research Centers

Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) is recognized as one of the world's largest and most comprehensive repositories for the documentation of the history and culture of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and other parts of the world. As one of the university's major research facilities, the MSRC collects, preserves, and makes available for research a wide range of resources chronicling the Black experience.

Student activites


Howard University is the publisher of The Journal of Negro Education which began publication in 1932.

Greek letter organizations

A number of student organizations were founded at Howard University, including:

Howard University is the home of all nine National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations. Other Greek letter organizations registered on campus include Alpha Phi Omega, Gamma Iota Sigma, Phi Mu Alpha, Sigma Alpha Iota, Delta Sigma Pi, Phi Sigma Pi, Gamma Sigma Sigma, Kappa Kappa Psi, and Tau Beta Sigma.

Howard is considered to be a historic site for several National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations. Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha was the first to appear and establish itself amongst the male students of Howard University. The Alpha chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha (1908), Delta Sigma Theta (1913), Omega Psi Phi (1911), Phi Beta Sigma (1914), and Zeta Phi Beta (1920) were established on the Howard campus.


Athletic teams compete in the NCAA as a part of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.


Howard University has conferred over 99,318 degrees and certificates in its 140-year history. Noteworthy alumni include Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, actor Ossie Davis, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (School of Law), Claude Brown, Stokeley Carmichael, Tracie Thoms, Roberta Flack, Lance Gross, Shaka Hislop, Phylicia Rashad, Richard Smallwood and many other educators, politicians, diplomats, writers, prominent international figures, and corporate executives. The 1990s R&B group Shai was formed on the campus of Howard University. Their hit song "If I Ever Fall In Love" was recorded there as well. The Hollywood Reporter reported that when Howard alumna Debbie Allen became the producer-director of the popular television series A Different World, she "drew from her college experiences in an effort to accurately reflect in the show the social and political life on black campuses."


External links

Search another word or see Howard_Universityon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature