After nine years marred in recent times by student protests over filthy and unlivable dorm conditions, a threatened faculty strike, and a walkout by hospital workers, Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick has announced his retirement.
In a letter Wednesday addressed to the Howard community, Dr. Laurence C. Morse, chair of the Howard University Board of Trustees, said Frederick recently informed officials at the historically Black college of his plans to step down by June 2024.
He said he’s committed to remaining in place to ensure a smooth transition.
“We appreciate that Dr. Frederick has given us ample time to find the next great leader of Howard University and remains committed to fulfilling key components of the Howard Forward Strategic Plan, along with other initiatives on his agenda,” Morse wrote. “Over the next two years, Dr. Frederick will continue to give his undivided attention to advance our collective interests, drive impactful initiatives, and support the people that comprise our growing university community.”
It hasn’t always been smooth for Frederick, who initially arrived as a student at Howard from his native Trinidad at 16.
For more than a month in 2021, students staged a lock-in and protested, seeking answers from Frederick and key administrators for poor housing conditions on campus. The protest quickly made news as images of mold and rodents were displayed from dorm rooms.
Frederick remained silent throughout the ordeal as calls for his resignation grew.
Last month, faculty members and the school avoided a strike after reaching a three-year deal. Adjunct professors and full-time non-tenured professors reportedly were seeking better pay, the ability to teach enough courses to access Howard’s health insurance, and ending a rule under which non-tenure-track faculty are let go after seven years.
This month, Howard University Hospital workers began a one-day strike to protest low wages and staffing challenges. The strike included more than 300 nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, and social workers.
After negotiations over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement broke down between the university and the labor union, the District of Columbia Nurses Association, workers walked out.
“The next president of Howard will follow Dr. Frederick’s lead in exemplifying our motto of truth and service by strengthening our legacy, embracing our community, and building on our strategic plan to prioritize the success of our students, faculty, and staff,” Morse said.