Friday, March 31, 2017

#HowardU Facts: Rankings

  • Howard is ranked as a Tier 1 national university by U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) as well as other higher education benchmarking entities.   Howard is ranked #124 among National Universities by USNWR.
  • In 2014, Dr. Frederick and other leaders at the University sat down with USNWR to better understand the rankings and methodologies used to inform a thoughtful, strategic approach to increasing our position.
  • Under President Frederick’s leadership, Howard initiated a strategy beginning in 2015 to strengthen its performance in national rankings, including significant increases in the University’s alumni giving rate (now above the national average), strengthened peer assessments, maintenance of strong selectivity in admissions, and improving graduation rates.
  • These efforts have proved to be successful, as evidenced by Howard’s dramatic rise in national rankings over the last two years.
  • In 2017, USNWR cited Howard as one of only two institutions with the greatest improvement in National University rankings between 2015 and 2017.

#HowardU Facts: Finances

  • Howard’s financial condition has improved markedly.  The University is aggressively and creatively addressing significant financial challenges that have built up over several decades.  These challenges did not emerge overnight and cannot be resolved overnight, but significant progress is being made. 
  • Howard’s strategy to achieve sustainable financial stability includes holding the line on administrative costs, increasing efficiency in business operations, addressing long-deferred plant maintenance requirements, modernizing information technology, improving conditions in student residences, diversifying revenue sources, monetizing under-utilized assets, and focusing on long-term planning. 
  • In effort to increase transparency and knowledge sharing across the HU community, several communication channels have been developed under Dr. Frederick’s leadership, including “The Journey” weekly radio show on WHUR, Bison Beat, a monthly newsletter and frequent state of the university addresses to all constituencies. Leadership of the faculty senate are invited to Cabinet meetings once a month and are asked to provide agenda items they deem priority. During those meetings, we share confidential information including details on financial information, real estate deals, academic programming, external affairs engagements, and fundraising updates, to name a few. There are regular meetings with two faculty trustees outside of the Board meetings, regular meetings with the young professionals group and numerous webinars and alumni meetings.
  • FY2016 saw Howard’s strongest financial performance in five years, with a gain from operations of almost $12 million. Operating revenues stabilized in FY2016, and operating expenses were decreased by 8% compared to FY2015.
  • Howard is rated by two rating agencies, Moody’s Investor Service and Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings. Both Moody’s and S&P lowered Howard’s credit ratings as financial performance at the University and the Hospital began to deteriorate beginning in 2012. Worsening financial performance during this period was largely a consequence of the 2008 financial crisis, the nationwide recession and its aftermath.  African-Americans suffered an unemployment rate almost twice as high as other demographic groups, directly impacting many HU families and their ability to pay tuition. An increase in students’ need for financial aid, depressed hospital admissions and rapidly changing healthcare market conditions also played a key role.
  • Moody’s first assigned a negative outlook to Howard’s credit rating in September 2009.  S&P assigned a negative outlook to Howard in August 2012. The assignment of the negative outlook therefore clearly was not related to the rating agencies’ opinion of Howard’s current administration, which took office in 2014.
  • Moody’s and S&P have both written favorably regarding the strategies Howard is now pursuing to keep expenses in alignment with revenues, improve operational efficiency, diversify funding sources, and monetize non-performing assets.
  • For example, in a June 2016 article (“Howard University’s Selective Asset Sales Will Aid Turnaround Plan”), Moody’s noted that Howard, the nation’s largest, private historically black university, is engaged in an ongoing effort to manage liquidity, restore financial stability and address capital investment needs. The asset monetization efforts will likely aid the university’s turnaround plan.
  • In September 2016, S&P wrote: “New senior management at the university and hospital initiated the first stage of a multi-year turnaround plan in the fall 2015.  The initial focus has been on expenditure reductions to better align expenditures with the revenue base. However, over the longer term, management is also reviewing revenue growth opportunities from both operations and asset monetization. In addition to financial goals, some of Howard’s key strategic priorities include a focus on building a culture of academic excellence and rigor; infusing service into the university culture; and increasing philanthropic efforts.”

#HowardU Facts: Federal Appropriation

  • Howard’s Federal Appropriation held steady from 2008 to 2012 at about $234 million.  From 2013 to 2016, the annual Appropriation has been $221 million. The reduction in 2013 reflects the Federal Budget “Sequester” that was agreed to that year by President Obama and the Congress.  The “Sequester” reduced ALL “discretionary domestic Federal spending” across the board.  Howard was not specifically targeted.  While direct Federal support has not grown, it remains a significant revenue source for the University, helping to advance Howard’s commitment to excellence in research, teaching and medical training as well as affordability.

#HowardU Facts: Admissions and Financial Aid

  • Howard University’s commitment to making an excellent four-year college experience available to highly talented students regardless of family income is exceptional and unique among nationally ranked research universities. 
  • One out of every three students currently attending Howard has a zero “expected family contribution” to the cost of their education.
  • One half of Howard’s students are eligible for Pell Grants, which are provided by the Federal Government to college students with very low family incomes.
  • In the past several years, Howard University has significantly increased the level of financial aid it provides to its students and their families.  In FY2016, Howard awarded to its students over $101 million in University-provided financial aid.  As recently as FY2009, Howard disbursed just $40 million a year in University-provided financial aid.
  • Our goal is to provide more financial aid to students with the greatest need. The deadline for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available earlier in the year to students.  We are taking full advantage of this timeline to create the most attractive financial aid package possible to prospective students.  
  • Recently, we had over 3400 guests attend our Accepted Student Day Program, of which 1400 were prospective students.  This is the greatest turn-out we’ve ever had, and is testimony to the interest in Howard University.
  • In a 2015 study, the Pro Publica research organization analyzed the percentage of the total student body receiving Pell grants at the 115 major U.S. private not-for-profit research universities.  There were 30 of these 115 universities where 15% or fewer students were Pell grantees, 20 with 15-20%, and 35 with 20-30%.  Howard was one of only 10 institutions where Pell grantees represented at or near 50% of the student body.

#HowardU Facts: Howard University Hospital

  • Howard University Hospital (HUH) is licensed by the D.C. Department of Health and is accredited by The Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.  Joint Commission accreditation is recognized nationwide as a symbol quality that reflects a health care organization’s commitment to meeting high performance standards. The University also has 20 accredited residency programs.
  • Financial performance at HUH has vastly improved over the past two years, and the hospital is now profitable and stable.
  • HUH has reduced the size of its workforce, but these reductions have not impaired quality or safety.  HUH reduced the size of its workforce because HUH’s operations were very far off from non-for-profit hospital industry standards. The average ratio of employees per occupied bed in a not-for-profit hospital is 5.1.  In 2013 the number of HUH employees per occupied bed was 9.6. Today HUH is in closer alignment to industry standards with a ratio of 6.6.
  • Despite Howard University Hospital’s recent return to profitability, HUH is not seeing an increase in its patient census, but this is not unusual.  Because of changes in the way health care services are managed and administered, hospital admissions have declined across all District of Columbia hospitals. According to the Washington Hospital Consortium, total inpatient admissions in DC’s hospitals were 124,000 in 2013 and 120,000 in 2016. 

#HowardU Facts: Strategic Plan

  • In January 2016, Howard University embarked on a new strategic planning process.  The Strategic Planning Commission, comprised of 15 faculty, staff and students, has begun to develop the University’s updated plan under the direction and leadership of the President and Provost.
  • The year-long development process included goal-setting, a SWOT analysis, numerous group meetings with leadership, focus groups with members of the HU community, community engagement activities with alumni, and a survey to faculty, staff, students and alumni for input.
  • The draft plan was delivered to President Frederick in February and currently is being reviewed by Howard’s Board of Trustees.  Upon approval, the plan will be distributed campus-wide.