By Yasha Washington, Staff Reporter
President Wayne Frederick unveiled Howard Forward 2024, the university’s five-year strategic plan to strengthen Howard’s academic model and improve the institution overall at the start of the year on Jan. 25, 2019. The plan consists of five pillars or strategic priorities to achieve five separate goals: Enhance Academic Excellence, Inspire More Knowledge, Serve the Community, Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness, and Achieve Financial Sustainability. These goals together and this plan will, according to the Howard Forward 2019-2024 document, “drive a culture of continuous improvement and create an environment that connects employees to Howard University’s mission.”
Since January, noticeable changes have taken place on campus. Buildings up and down Georgia Avenue can be found bearing large “Howard Forward” posters, and a recent spike in construction on certain parts of campus has caught students’ attention. Now, a few short months away from the first anniversary of Howard Forward, Howard students share whether they believe that they’ve witnessed progress over the past nine months, as well as their thoughts about the strategic plan in general.
“You can definitely see it with the different projects that they have regarding real estate, with them outsourcing a lot of administrative duties on campus, especially when it comes to financial aid,” said Oluwatobi “Tobi” Mojeed-Balogun, junior economics major “You can see them actually trying to implicate ways to save money through funding.”
Like many students, Mojeed-Balogun shared that he believes Howard has evolved if even somewhat since the beginning of Howard Forward. Also like many other students, Mojeed-Balogun believes that community service has not been emphasized enough, either in the new strategic plan with the pillar “Serve the Community,” or in recent years at Howard overall.
“There’s a portion about service and I think that’s really important to just being Howard in general, about serving the community,” said Mojeed-Balogun. “But I think one of my biggest issues with the way that Howard kind of looks at service is kind of this idea of this hierarchy or this differentiation, when there should be integration, if that makes sense. We should be part of the community, not this thing that’s benevolently serving the community.”
Senior architecture major Glenn Vaulx asserted that the success of Howard Forward 2024 falls to neither Howard administration nor Howard students. Rather, the strategic plan is only as effective as both parties’ commitment to it.
“As long as the administration is putting forth effort into the progression of the university and the students are putting forth effort, then I could see it working well and, five years later from now, we see a higher standard of Howard University, a more excellent university than what we have today,” said Vaulx. “I could see us going forward as long as there is effective communication and effective work on both sides of the spectrum. Administration and students. Students and community. Alumni and current students. Things like that.”