Sunday, May 11, 2008

Stability, Advances Mark Howard President's Legacy

I had posted an article that announced the new president of Howard University a prestigious HBCU located in the nation's capital, however, here's an article about the man who's the outgoing President of Howard. He gave his final commencement address as President. From Washington Post:

Shortly after arriving at Howard University as a freshman in the early 1960s, H. Patrick Swygert walked into an auditorium where Malcolm X, spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and civil rights leader Bayard Rustin were debating black integration. The future Howard president became overwhelmed by the exposure to such vigorous black intellectual life and an ethos of leadership and service to the community.

Today, he looks back on his own legacy of leadership and service as he delivers the last commencement speech in his 13-year tenure as president of one of the nation's most prestigious historically black universities, even as his newly named successor, Sidney A. Ribeau, president of Bowling Green State University, is mapping a new route for Howard.

Exactly where Swygert is leaving Howard is a matter of discussion on campus. He exits after a period of strained relations with the Faculty Senate, which recently sent a letter to the Board of Trustees that declared the university was in crisis and called for new leadership.

Others praise Swygert for setting new sights for Howard.

"I think he moved us to the big leagues," said James Johnson, dean of the College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Science. "He set a higher level of expectation of what a university should do, and what faculty and students should do. He pushed students to pursue Rhodes scholarships and Marshall scholarships, and excel. . . . He got us looking at what we can do as a top-tier university."

Swygert, who took over the leadership of Howard in 1995, is credited by many with bringing stability to a campus that had seen five presidents in seven years, declining enrollment and layoffs, a state of affairs all the more startling because of Howard's one of the nation's oldest black universities.

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