A university spokeswoman said Frederick was not available for an interview Friday.
The board’s chairman, Stacey J. Mobley, did not respond to messages seeking comment Friday. In a written statement this month, he said the board strongly supports Frederick, and in a letter to the Faculty Senate, he wrote, “The vote of no confidence is deeply troubling, unfounded and counterproductive to our collective goals.”
Howard’s Council of Deans expressed its support for Frederick this month, as did leaders of the Howard University Alumni Association, which praised the school’s leadership for faculty salary increases, a partnership with Google and tuition refunds for students who graduate on time.
But divisions persist. This month, most faculty members who voted expressed no confidence in Frederick, the Board of Trustees executive committee, Chief Operating Officer Tashni-Ann Dubroy and Provost Anthony K. Wutoh.
On April 20, the Faculty Senate Council followed with a letter, sent to Frederick, the board, Dubroy, Wutoh and the faculty, saying that the no-confidence vote represented “the faculty’s dissatisfaction with global systemic issues and chronic challenges posed by defaults in administrative leadership, fiduciary irresponsibility, and decaying infrastructure.”
The Faculty Senate Council said that despite a litany of woes, “the Board of Trustees continues to maintain a blind and unwavering support for an administrative team whose leadership is reactionary, rather than visionary and innovative,” the letter said. “The Faculty Senate finds this unacceptable.”
Calling the administration “divisive and ineffective,” the council voted to call for the resignations of the board chairman, Mobley, Frederick, Dubroy and Wutoh.
The Faculty Senate chairwoman said Friday that Frederick responded and proposed a meeting with the Faculty Senate’s steering committee and the executive committee of trustees, which will probably take place after graduation.
Mobley, the board chairman, had issued a statement after the vote of no confidence, expressing disappointment with the results. “There is no question that Howard University has the right leadership in place,” Mobley said.
In a letter sent to the Faculty Senate in mid-April, Mobley wrote, “Although we still have many challenges ahead of us, President Frederick’s accomplishments are progressively moving the university forward.” Those include, he wrote, “an all-time high” 50 percent four-year graduation rate, four consecutive years of faculty salary pool increases, inclusion of the Faculty Senate Council in significant decisions and a positive financial change for Howard University Hospital. He wrote that donations had increased during Frederick’s tenure.
“Under Dr. Frederick’s leadership, Howard’s finances have stabilized,” Mobley wrote, “and a culture of accountability is being championed. These are metrics that should make us proud.”
In comments about the vote by rank-and-file faculty members, university spokeswoman Alonda Thomas said: “Howard’s Faculty Senate has more than 950 members, but less than 300 members cast a ballot in this special election. The vote in question is a small representative sample and the vote doesn’t reflect the overall sentiments of the majority of the membership.”
Marcus Alfred, an associate professor in Howard’s department of physics and astronomy, said he was told by longtime faculty members that this was the largest turnout for such a vote in many years. He said some people were afraid to participate, worried it could affect their chances for tenure.
His colleagues have myriad concerns, Alfred said, including the lack of a strategic plan or an effective capital campaign. Some mentioned intimidation by deans. He said faculty members had asked the board for more transparency last fall — before the financial-aid crisis. Now, some want to see a full audit. “We’re academics — telling the truth is fundamental to what we do,” he said. “If we see something is wrong, we’ve got to say that it’s wrong. We can’t spin it or sugarcoat it.”
Before the no-confidence vote, the faculty listed concerns including a lack of timely budgets, a reduction in maintenance spending that has caused problems in buildings and the absence of a means of evaluating deans and directors, “resulting in lack of accountability of administrators and a climate of fear of retaliation and intimidation among the faculty and staff.”
“It’s been a hard year,” Alfred said. “It’s been a really hard year.”