Howard University’s Undergraduate Library (UGL) recently underwent a new name change, honoring the university’s soon-to-be-retired president, Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, and his long-term engagement with the university.
The decision to rename UGL after Frederick was approved by the university’s Board of Trustees and announced at his farewell dinner on June 8, according to The Dig. With a unanimous vote, the renaming took place shortly after Frederick’s time as president of the university came to an end, with him serving in the role for almost 10 years.
“The president has really committed himself to making sure that Howard University is the best that it could possibly be,” Monica Lewis, assistant vice president of strategic communications at Howard University, said. “And he’s done phenomenal things here in terms of infrastructure, financial stability and really helping to raise the profile of the university in general.”
The undergraduate library joins buildings like the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, Alain Locke Hall, Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, Cathy Hughes School of Communications, Armour J. Blackburn Center and the Frederick Doass Memorial Hall as some of the buildings named after notable figures with Howard associations.
Frederick is now the fourth president at Howard to have a campus building named after them along with Howard Hall, Thirkield Hall and the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administration.
Lewis expressed that the board decided among themselves that the renaming of the building would be a fitting tribute to Frederick.
To those who might question the board’s decision on honoring Frederick, Lewis quoted Trustee Chairman Dr. Laurence C. Morse’s statement about Frederick, stating that it was due to his “selfless commitment to revitalizing the university.”
The decision to rename the library has been met with mixed reviews by the Howard community, with some questioning whether or not the student body’s opinion was taken into consideration.
Kamau Grimes, a 2019 Howard graduate, shared that he found the renaming of the library to be “interesting” considering Frederick’s reputation amongst the students.
“Well it makes me wonder if they consulted with the students because I know he wasn’t very popular during his time there,” Grimes said. “There [were] like at least two different student takeovers. One when I was there and one after I was gone. So, you know he was the subject of a lot of discontent among the student body.”
While some members of the community might question the decision, other members of the Howard community are indifferent about the recent change to the library.
“I’m not sure. I am so uneducated about it. I literally have no opinion on it because I don’t know much about our recent president,” Aayushka Budhathoki, a sophomore computer science major, said.
Despite uncertainty amongst some, others are excited that Frederick is receiving recognition.
Tania Williams, an alumna of Howard’s School of Business and participant in the 1989 protest in the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administration building, acknowledged that while some may disagree with the decision, his contributions to the school can still be commended.
“As a leader, just like any of those, they have to make unpopular decisions sometimes in the best interest of the university and that might not always align with the best interest of the students,” Williams said. “So, I always feel like there is obviously always going to be some type of conflict.”
“I feel like if you can improve the brand of a university and it’s still strong then you kind of have to think [that] you gotta weigh those things,” Williams said.
Frederick shared his gratitude for the recognition stating that he was “honored” and that having the library named after him “symbolizes the years of dedication and hard work,” according to The Dig.
Copy edited by Alana Matthew