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