January 2023 Volume 12, Issue 1
A Monthly Newsletter from the Office of the President: Bison Beat: A Contemporary Education

Dear Howard University Community,


The concept of contemporary education feels somewhat redundant, no?

Contemporary is simply defined as current or modern, and so that leaves me to question what the opposite of a contemporary education might be. Something outmoded and obsolete? As a practicing surgeon, I am trying to imagine the logic behind suggesting we operate on patients in the same way we did when the original Freedman's Hospital opened, despite the advancements in medical technology in the 161 years since.

There is, unquestionably, much to be learned from the past. Our foremothers and fathers sacrificed much for the freedoms we enjoy today, and their acquired wisdom should serve as necessary guidance as we continue marching forward. Yet, education by definition should be ever-evolving. It must both embrace and reject traditional structures, experiment with innovative ideas, and refuse to fixate on the victories and defeats of the past. At Howard University, our distinct mission is to provide an educational experience of exceptional quality, and our vision is to boldly deliver on that mission in a contemporary context. Since the University's chartering in 1867, Howard has existed to address disparities disproportionately affecting the African American population. That responsibility requires a level of foresight, care, and intention only achievable in pursuit of the future -- seeing the world not as it already is, but as it can and should be.

Providing a contemporary education to the Howard University community has been a top priority of mine since becoming president, and yet the COVID-19 pandemic has further necessitated that we become especially nimble in producing a quality experience for our students and faculty alike. Coupled with our mission to provide an exceptional educational experience and our commitment to produce distinguished global leaders, we are embarking on a forward trajectory that positions Howard as a model of excellence. This trajectory looks like extensive campus renovations, including the first new facilities on campus in nearly 40 years. It looks like removing cumbersome financial barriers and incentivizing our students to graduate on time. And it looks like developing career opportunities designed to elevate not just Howard, but all our historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the process.

We respect tradition most by innovating upon it, not by resting on our laurels. While I am eternally proud to be the steward of a University with such a rich history, I am even prouder to embrace the work still to come.


Excellence in Truth and Service, 

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

Feature Stories
Students in Howard University lecture

The Roles, Responsibilities, and History of Howard's 14 Colleges

Upon its founding in 1867, Howard University began with four colleges. Today, nearly 10,000 students can pursue degrees throughout the University's 140 majors that consist of 14 colleges.

This prompts a question for administration: How does Howard University provide a standard, quality education for a diverse set of educational needs within the ever-changing landscape of contemporary education?


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The Howard College of Medicine's Importance in Today's Educational Landscape

If there is one place in the United States uniquely qualified to speak at the intersection of health disparities and systemic racism, it's the Howard University College of Medicine.

However, there has been recent pushback regarding the merits of including concepts of systemic racism and health disparities in medical school curricula. Howard's College of Medicine is a beacon for why these conversations remain necessary. 


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Students in Howard University lecture

Ensuring Every Bison's Excellence: The Office of Undergraduate Studies

In 2014, President Wayne A. I. Frederick aimed to fulfill every Bison's ability to experience a full, well-rounded undergraduate experience. Talks of a Center of Academic Excellence began, but with Melanie Carter, PhD, on the administrative team, she challenged the task by shifting priorities.

"I propose to name (the program) after undergraduate studies because that was more aligned with where things were going," Dr. Carter says.


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Can Unconscious Bias Trainings Help at an HBCU Like Howard University?

Over the past decade, organizations have responded to critiques around their diversity, equity, and inclusion by requiring their employees to undergo a set of unconscious bias trainings.

At schools like Howard University, the need for trainings on unconscious bias may seem unnecessary. Communities that bear the brunt of these biases are often deemed exempt from requiring these trainings. But unconscious bias transcends race and ethnicity. It can involve socioeconomics, gender, and host of other variables we may fail to immediately recognize.


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Reflection by Dr. Frederick

As we celebrate Dr. King's 94th birthday, it is evident that many of his listed concerns in the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" have yet to be adequately addressed. Even at the time he penned the letter, while much on the topic of civil rights had been achieved, not nearly enough had tangibly changed. But instead of feeling dismayed by the deferment of his dream, Dr. King was encouraged by the clarity of his foresight and his confidence in the people who would carry it forward, because he knew movements of this magnitude are never defined by one man alone.

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The Dig
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