President's Perspective: The HBCU Difference

The role that Howard University continues to play in the world is one of excellence. We are creating history every day, although the academic landscape outside of our campus is changing. Not only are the dynamics of access to education much different now than they were at the onset of this institution’s founding, but now, there are more opportunities for Black students to attend any school they choose and dream the biggest dreams they could ever have—which is what I did when I came to this country from Trinidad and Tobago as a 16-year-old with sickle cell anemia who wanted to become a physician.

Howard University was the only place in the world where I could fulfill my dreams. No one at Howard ever questioned my capacity or abilities, and that is the HBCU difference. I think that’s why HBCUs are even more critical today than in the past. Last year, fewer Black males applied to medical school than in 1976. We have a crisis taking place right in front of us, but the focus often is that there’s opportunity everywhere. Unfortunately, the opportunity is not quite what it’s made out to be. Sometimes, it is a “sheltered opportunity,” one with a lot attached to it. HBCUs take away the shackles because, when you attend an HBCU, you are presented with an unbridled opportunity to fulfill your potential and bring your wildest dreams to fruition.

Throughout my tenure, I have witnessed selfless people become more engaged and involved to ensure a better future for Howard University. During the last year alone, we have announced that Howard West, the University’s academic partnership with Google,will expand to cover the full academic year beginning fall 2018. Howard West is an extension of our commitment to producing industry-ready Black computer science graduates who will enter the workforce with the added invaluable knowledge gained by working alongside the leading experts at Google.

Howard West serves as the realization of a vision to expand Howard’s presence to the West Coast. It is also a significant step forward for Google’s efforts to recruit and retain diverse technical talent. Howard West will prepare hundreds of industry-ready Black computer science graduates and future leaders with the power to transform the global technology space into a stronger, more accurate reflection of the world around us. In partnership with Google, we envisioned this program with bold outcomes in mind—to advance a strategy that leverages Howard’s high-quality faculty and Google’s expertise, while also rallying the tech industry and other thought leaders around the importance of diversity in business and the communities they serve.

Howard University is a national treasure—not only because of our legacy, but also because of what is happening right now. Our core values of excellence, leadership, truth and service are at the center of Howard’s vision to develop scholars and professionals who drive change while engaging in scholarship that provides solutions to contemporary global problems.

Excellence in Truth and Service,

Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA
President

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