Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Howard Faculty Demand New President: Faculty Senate Council Says Fiscal Mismanagement Is Hurting the Academic Quality of the University

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Howard Faculty Demand New President: Faculty Senate Council Says Fiscal Mismanagement Is Hurting the Academic Quality of the University

Article excerpt

Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert's attempt late last month to assuage faculty members who have called for his ouster seems to have failed, as they continue to call for a new president to lead the private, historically Black university.

Despite a cordial, long-awaited meeting with Swygert, the Faculty Senate Council says Swygert's fiscal mismanagement is hurting the academic quality of the Washington, D.C. school, long a top producer of Black doctorates.

Prior to the late March meeting, the Council, which represents more than 1,000 professors, voted 16 to 2 with one abstention to send a letter to the board of trustees documenting what they described as a "state of crisis, the nature of which threatens the stability and character of the institution."

The letter, obtained by Diverse, states, "Not only have the faculty lost confidence in the ability of President Swygert to lead this university, but more importantly, the faculty have exhausted their patience and seek to end what has become an intolerable condition of incompetence and dysfunction at the highest level."

Although Swygert addressed some of the issues faculty members raised, he failed to sway their resolve in seeing him removed from office.

"The meeting ended with strong agreements among the Council that the president's response to its request for a search for a new president was not compelling and failed to evoke strong support anywhere within the Council, and that this request was well founded and served the best interests of the Howard community" says Dr. Taft Broome, an at-large member of the Council.

However, the president's office sounded a more optimistic tone. Swygert and provost Richard A. English, who attended the meeting, "were very pleased with the constructive dialogue that occurred," according to a statement issued by Swygert's office.

Faculty became frustrated because Swygert had not honored previous meeting requests, and overall morale was low and patience was running out.

"It was long in the making," says Dr. Theodore Bremner, chair of the faculty senate. "The Council had authorized me to request a meeting with the president to discuss matters of governance brought by one school and one college. The president did not respond. We felt we needed to take more decisive action. The earlier letter dealt more with governance issues. The last failure to meet precipitated this letter. The Council felt they had enough. …

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