The Power of Giving

Board of Trustees Laurence C. Morse, Ph.D.; Danette G. Howard, Ph.D.; Dr. Reed V. Tuckson and Benaree Pratt Wiley

It’s been said that success starts at the top. When it comes to University giving, the Board of Trustees is setting a recordbreaking example.

In 2018, all members of the Howard University Board of Trustees made financial contributions to the University, with trustee gifts and documented pledges reaching $5,520,001. That amount represented a 217 percent increase from the prior year—and the highest amount ever given collectively by the Board.

While giving in any capacity can make a difference, some trustees had the added satisfaction of seeing some of their con- tributions go to Howard initiatives that hold special significance for them.

Giving the Gift of Access

Sometimes people don’t realize that they can have a voice in how their contributions are used, said Trustee Danette G. Howard, Ph.D., (B.A. ’97). However, “you can give a gift that is purely reflective of you.”

Howard chose for her contribution to go toward the student scholarship fund, partly because of her own educational experience. “I was incredibly blessed to receive a full academic scholarship to attend Howard University,” she said. “Because of that scholarship, I was able to finish my undergraduate education without any debt.”

In offering her donation, Howard wants other students to have that same sense of freedom. “There are so many young people who have endless and boundless talent,” said Howard, who is the senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Lumina Foundation—an organization dedicated to increasing access and success to postsecondardary education—and former Secretary of Higher Education in the state of Maryland. “However, their dreams are cut short because they do not have the financial means to pursue them.”

Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S., addressed the need for affordable education in the University’s new strategic framework, Howard Forward 2024. The framework calls for developing a strategy that will increase need- and meritbased funding to ensure that students can afford a Howard University education. Howard sees her gift as a contribution toward achieving that goal. She also intends that some of her contribution be used to support faculty members so that they can provide more research opportunities for undergraduate students.

 

Preparing Future Leaders in Healthcare

Trustee Reed V. Tuckson, M.D., FACP (B.S. ’73) credits Howard University with helping him to launch a successful career in the healthcare and medical care industries. Among his professional achievements: Tuckson is the former commissioner of public health for the District of Columbia, he served as president of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and he was the executive vice president and chief of medical affairs for UnitedHealth Group. Today, Tuckson is managing director of Tuckson Health Connections, a healthcare consulting firm.

For Tuckson, both Howard and healthcare have been family affairs. “My father was one of the assistant deans at the College of Dentistry. My mother was trained as a nurse at Howard,” he said. In addition, his brother, who is a surgeon, also attended Howard, and his sister-inlaw studied nursing at Howard. “All of us have a very great debt of gratitude for what Howard’s health sciences enterprise has produced. We benefit as a family and feel very strongly the moral and ethical imperative of giving back.”

That’s one reason why Tuckson, and his wife Margie, chose that (his) their contribution be used to help advance the quality of healthcare and health sciences training at Howard. “I have benefited in my career from being on the cutting edge of innovations in care delivery, and I can see how rapidly healthcare in America is changing,” he said. “As such, I want to ensure that my donation will be used to create modern environments of care delivery so that our graduates will be well prepared to meet the opportunities and challenges of this rapid evolution in healthcare.”

Tuckson said his donation also reflects the level of confidence that he has in President Frederick. “If there is anyone I would entrust the use of my money with, it would be with Dr. Frederick,” he said.

 

Paving the Way for Women in Business

Trustee and Board Vice Chair Benaree Pratt Wiley (B.A., ’68) was introduced to the field of business while she was at Howard. Initially intending to study education, Wiley took an economics class and a professor pulled her aside to ask her if she’d ever considered studying business. That led to a lifelong passion. “I just fell in love with business and how it can make a difference in so many people’s lives,” she said.

As principal of The Wiley Group, a firm that promotes leadership development and talent management, Wiley chose for a portion of her gift to be used to promote women in business leadership positions. “My life’s work has centered around helping younger African Americans to advance,” she said. She intends that some of her donation also be used to create platforms, such as forums or lecture series, where Howard women can hone the skills they need to advance in their business careers.

Wiley also designated that some of her donation be left for the University to use as it sees fit. “I believe strongly in giving unrestricted dollars because there are always so many ways in which resources are needed that we can’t always predict,” she said.

 

Preserving Howard’s Historic Legacy

Trustee Laurence C. Morse, Ph.D., (B.A. ’73) wants his donation to go toward Howard’s libraries and archives. “I can’t think of anything more important to any people than the preservation of its history,” he said. “Howard, through the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and the library system in general, has incredibly valuable materials that speak to our sojourn in this country.”

Morse, a co-founder and managing partner at private equity investment management firm Fairview Capital, also has a more personal reason for his choice. When he was an undergraduate, he benefited tremendously from the amount of time that he was able to spend in the Moorland-Spingarn Reading Room before it became a research center in 1973. “It was run by Dorothy Porter (B.A.’28), who was very kind and generous to me when I was an undergraduate,” he said. “She always made it possible for me to access materials that I wanted to see— things that I was simply curious about. I remember that, and I treasure it.”

Morse has made it a priority to give back to Howard, even during the earlier years of his career when he didn’t have as much to give. “Shortly after graduating from Howard, I suspect I was sending in $10 and $25 checks,” he said. “But it was important, I thought, to establish a pattern of giving.” Today, he considers giving to be not just a privilege but an obligation. “There is no way that I’d have been able to experience the career that I’ve had without the foundation that was laid at Howard,” he said. “I have an obligation to do whatever I can to ensure that the students who follow me have the same types of opportunities that I had to grow.”

 

Embracing the Power to Make a Difference

Some alumni believe that they don’t have the resources to give enough to make a difference, but that is entirely false, said Howard. “For a student, $150 is significant. That could be the cost of a couple of textbooks. That could go toward traveling for alternative spring break.”

Alumni giving also inspires other philanthropic gifts. “When the philanthropic community sees that those of us who attended Howard are giving, whether it’s $25 or $25,000, they also will be more likely to give,” Howard added.

One of the greatest lessons the trustees have shown with their gifts is that giving is not a one-size-fits-all action. A gift to Howard can give alumni a way to be a part of Howard’s evolution in the decades to come.

“You can say, ‘This is an area that I really care about and want to see Howard put some resources behind,’” said Wiley. “Giving elevates your voice.”

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