H. Patrick Swygert said he wanted to be able to say goodbye to this year's graduating class by making his announcement before this month's commencement: He will retire from Howard in June 2008.
Swygert has been president for 12 years, steadying one of the country's most well-known universities after a tumultuous period. During his tenure, Howard dramatically updated the technology on campus and helped revitalize the nearby LeDroit Park neighborhood.
But there have been signs of problems on campus at the historically black institution, including accreditation issues for several programs. A National Science Foundation audit criticized management of federal research dollars at the private school, which gets the bulk of its funding from the government.
This spring, faculty leaders sent a letter to the board of trustees. They said the university was in crisis and demanded a new president.