More than 1,200 students, faculty, alumni, administrators, and friends gathered to celebrate the 153rd Howard University Charter Day during the annual Charter Day Dinner held at the Washington Hilton on Saturday, March 7. As Howard’s largest fundraising event, this year’s festivities reached milestone records for the highest-grossing revenue, highest net revenue and record paid attendance. The evening signified an increased surge of unwavering support for Howard’s mission as community stakeholders gathered in celebration.

“Whether you had the opportunity to attend Howard, send your child to Howard, or know a friend who attended Howard, this place is absolutely essential to America’s fabric,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick. “There’s a lot going on in our world and a lot for us to be pessimistic about, but I hope that when you come to these types of events and you meet our Howard University students, staff and faculty, you immediately realize exactly all that’s good in the world.”

Following the opening jazz cocktail reception, guests entered the beautifully decorated ballroom where a three-course dinner was served. Award-winning journalist Lesli Foster served as a gracious mistress of ceremonies. Foster introduced Grammy award-winning vocalist Yolanda Adams, who serenaded guests with renditions of her well-known musical selections, including “Open My Heart.”

“With the world focusing in on this horrible thing that’s happening to us, more than uniting to come together and be of service to one another, I thought that this song would be appropriate for the evening,” said Adams.

In addition to Howard’s Board of Trustees, notable guests included several public officials such as DC city council member Vincent Gray; Tallahassee, Florida County Commissioner Bill Proctor; and Patricia T. Walters, the widow of long-time Howard professor Ronald Walters, Ph.D., who recently donated the couple’s $2.5 million art collection to Howard.

Four exemplary Howard University alumni were honored with the Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement: research engineer Dereje Agonafer; sports journalist Stanley R. Verrett; and Tanya M. Walton Pratt, the first African-American federal judge in Indiana’s history. Howard University Board of Trustees Chairman Stacey J. Mobley, Esq., and President Frederick introduced the honorees who provided anecdotes from their history with Howard and words of gratitude for the impact the University has had on their lives and for so many others.

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