On Saturday, Ribeau and two trustees spoke via speakerphone as others gathered in a conference room in the Mordecai Johnson Administration Building. (Another history alert: Johnson, Howard’s first African American president, was a towering figure in the university’s development, serving from 1926 to 1960.)
In the room were Provost Wayne A.I. Frederick, General Counsel Kurt L. Schmoke, spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton and Tarola. The trustees on the phone were Robert L. Lumpkins, chairman of the finance committee on the Board of Trustees, and Elizabeth G. Early, chairwoman of the academic excellence committee, whose term on the board ended Monday.
It is worth noting that board chairman Addison Barry Rand and vice chairwoman Renee Higginbotham-Brooks have declined multiple interview requests. A letter from Higginbotham-Brooks, disclosed on June 7, contended that Howard is “in genuine trouble” because of fiscal and management issues. Rand countered that the university remains “academically, financially and operationally strong.”
Here are some other points that emerged from Saturday’s interview:
●Student enrollment, which fell 5 percent last fall, to 10,002, is projected to hold at about that level in the coming academic year. “The goal is to have a class of 10,000,” Frederick said. “That’s what we’re aiming at. I can’t predict with 100 percent certainty that we’ll get there.” He added that key metrics for enrollment, such as deposit payments, were encouraging: “By all benchmarks, based on year over year data, we are ahead of where we were last year.”
These numbers are critical for the university as it seeks to increase tuition revenue.
Critics say that the university has raised tuition too much in recent times, citing an undergraduate increase of more than 40 percent over a four-year span. The deans, in their June 6 letter, called the increases “burdensome.”
Tuition and fees were frozen for the coming year at about $22,700 for undergraduates. But Ribeau’s team says that net tuition revenue has grown.
Here is the trend line for net revenue of tuition and fees, after subtracting institutional grants, according to the university: $122 million in fiscal 2010, $143 million in fiscal 2011, $147 million in fiscal 2012 and $159 million in fiscal 2013.
●Fundraising: Ribeau’s team said that $61 million in private donations has been raised for Howard since 2009. Higginbotham-Brooks, in her letter, said the university lacks “an infrastructure for fundraising” and lacks “access to the larger philanthropic community.”