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From the President

A letter from President Wayne A. I. Frederick

by President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA
Dr. Frederick in front of Bison Pride sign

Dr. Frederick at Commencement.

Dear Howard University Community, 

As we consider the future of Howard University in this digital-only issue of the magazine and what our institution will look like in the years and decades ahead, we should pause for a moment to reflect on how we will bring our vision to fruition. 

Above all else, progress requires balance. We cannot move forward too quickly; nor can we deliberate too long before taking action. We cannot create a unified vision before we have taken into account competing interests and negotiated a plan predicated on compromise. We cannot begin to construct our future before we have amassed the resources and established the foundation upon which we will build. 

Progress is painstaking and incremental; progress begets progress, so long as we do not skip steps or allow our actions to extend beyond our means. We should never restrict the heights or the breadth of our ambitions. But we cannot act upon our dreams until we have met the conditions that will allow them to be fulfilled. As much as we need lofty goals and inspiring rhetoric to move us forward and articulate what it is that we are striving to achieve, progress also needs a plan. 

At the Mecca today, we are on the precipice of great change and tremendous progress. Over the next few years, we will break ground on new construction and renovation projects that will revitalize the experience we provide for our students and faculty and rejuvenate the work they will do on our campus.  

We should never restrict the heights or the breadth of our ambitions. But we cannot act upon our dreams until we have met the conditions that will allow them to be fulfilled.

The future of our society will be defined and given shape right here at Howard University – just as it has since 1867. As Howard has evolved, growing from a small campus consisting of ample farmland to becoming an urban and economic center in the nation’s capital, so has our society shifted. Yes, we have grown alongside our society; but we have also sparked much of the greater social change seen throughout the country.  

On our campus today, we are cultivating a more dynamic, contemporary, multidisciplinary working and learning space. The more our physical infrastructure can cultivate collaboration and generate novel opportunities and experiences, the greater the truths we will reveal and the service we will provide.  

But for all the change that will transpire at Howard, we would be remiss to overlook how we enabled our own transformation. There was much we had to do before we could invest $785 million to improve our buildings and construct new ones, including dramatically enhancing our financial posture by improving our credit rating and strengthening our philanthropic revenue stream. 

The version of Howard we are on the cusp of realizing was a vision we have had for years. But had we made this significant investment at the wrong time, we could have met with ruinous consequences that set Howard backward rather than propelling us forward to greater prosperity. As painful as it is to delay pursuing the good we know we want to achieve, progress requires patience. The future that is now within our reach would not have been possible without the tolerance, the support, the understanding, and the buy-in of our entire community. 

Excellence in Truth and Service, 

Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA 
Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery 

This story appears in the Spring/ Summer 2022 issue.
Article ID: 841

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