Amid avoiding a strike by their contingent faculty, Howard University released the details of a $785 million dollar real estate investment into campus facilities; the largest in the university’s history. The historic investment marks the start of Howard University’s Central Campus Master Plan, which was initially released in April of 2020 and approved by the D.C. Zoning Commission in 2021.
This investment will include the construction of three new “state-of-the-art” multidisciplinary academic halls and renovating several existing structures, such as the Myrtilla Miner Building on Georgia Avenue, which will hold the School of Education and the Howard University Middle School for Mathematics and Science. These new projects are to begin this year and be completed by 2026.
Of the $785 million real estate investment, $670 million will be allocated to funding three new academic centers: the Health Sciences Complex, which will house the College of Medicine, College of Dentistry, College of Pharmacy and the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences; the Center for Arts and Communications, which will combine the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts and the Cathy Hughes School of Communications; and the STEM Center, which will be for various STEM programs and disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, mathematics and associated labs. The naming rights for each of these buildings will be chosen by the university in the coming months.
The Miner Building renovation will be near the Mordecai Johnson Administration Building, the Center for Arts and Communications will be in the parking lot behind the current College of Fine Arts and Cramton Auditorium and the STEM Center will be built where the CB Powell Building currently is, keeping some of the original building intact.
This is the first time that the university has constructed new academic buildings since 1984. The new investment will add to Howard’s growing $2 billion portfolio of real estate and other assets.
Over the last five years, Howard has renovated 80 percent of residence halls for improved security and building upgrades. The Campus Master Plan also includes adding up to 1500 additional housing units that would cater to juniors, seniors and graduate students. If plans and financing are approved, the project, which would be located on Sherman Avenue, next to District Dogs, could be underway late next year.
This long-term transformation project was made possible because of the university’s record-breaking fundraising totals last year. Howard ended the 2021 fiscal year with $170 million in philanthropic contributions, and is already on track to succeed the number this year by already accumulating $120 million in philanthropic commitments just six months into the fiscal year. The donations have been made by Howard alumni, as well as individual and institutional donors.
In February, Howard announced there was a shift in its national bond ratings by the Fitch and Standard and Poor’s credit agencies from stable to positive. Both agencies affirmed a $300 million series 2022A taxable bond for real estate investment, another vital financing component.
“Because of the tremendously enhanced financial posture we have worked so hard to achieve, the state of the University has never been stronger,” Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick said in a press release.
These new construction projects and renovations are said to reach beyond the renovations of the Undergraduate Library in 2021, the re-opening of Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall in 2021 and the construction of the Interdisciplinary Research Building in 2015.
Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Rashad Young expressed that the “…real estate team who has the opportunity to lead the largest investment in Howard University history is very excited.” Young added that these projects will embody the true nature of the Howard community. “New facilities that match the strength and competency of our faculty and the strength of our students are long overdue.”
Christian Batson, a freshman physics major, said that he expressed joy after initially hearing about the investment, saying that it feels good to know that the campus is being updated, “I believe it is wise [the investment] and much needed as many of the buildings are dilapidated and falling apart,” Batson said.
Some students, however, while happy about the investment, have reservations about the outcome. Abrahm Cleveland, a junior political science major, “as someone who has a legacy family, they’ve always complained about not having those buildings, so it’s nice to have that. But it is kind of sad coming from a predominantly white institution as well, and knowing that they have all the infrastructure that we could have as well if we had tried a bit earlier.”
Copy edited by: Jasper Smith