Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dear Howard University Community:
 
Opening Convocation at Howard University is a time-honored tradition, officially signaling the beginning of the academic year. A time when students, faculty, and staff join together, Opening Convocation is a catalyst for the University community to engage in our legacy-driven traditions and celebrate recent achievements. It is also when we codify our responsibility to selflessly serve our local and global communities while boldly standing for truth and service.
 
The pursuit of truth is a journey that requires deep evaluation, challenge, and debate. We must never be so complacent as to believe we have fully attained it. Veritas is both aspiration and motivation. There is always more to know. So, we must be open to new ideas, new perspectives, and even to the possibility of being wrong. We must be willing to engage in debate that facilitates an enlightened community – one where reason and evidence spur change in views. These are not simply important skills that we hope to nurture in each of our students. These are critical life skills necessary to carry Howard’s legacy beyond our campuses.
 
I am pleased to welcome Mr. James Comey to deliver the 150th Opening Convocation address this Friday, September 22, at Cramton Auditorium. He will enlighten us and share with us his experiences and his expertise.
 
Formerly the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), appointed by PresidentBarack Obama, Mr. Comey is a man steeped in his ethics. 
 
While at the FBI, Mr. Comey made implicit bias an issue that the entire bureau had to understand.  He made it mandatory for all agents and analysts to attend trainings, visit Martin Luther King’s monument, and study the FBI’s interaction with him.  He led this effort as a result of the FBI’s history of undermining Black-led organizations and leaders.  Related to that, Mr. Comey championed an initiative to diversify the FBI after realizing its lack of diversity and the disservice the bureau will continue to do to the American people if change doesn’t come.
 
Exhibited ethics, such as the aforementioned, are exactly why Mr. Comey was invited to address our community as Opening Convocation speaker. Throughout his career, Mr. Comey has proven that he was not afraid to do what was right, despite how others viewed him. Similarly, we are not afraid to open our doors to a speaker that will engage us in provocative and complex debate oftough issues. We are not afraid to open our doors to a speaker that elevates our thinking and inspires learning.
 
I am confident in his understanding of the challenges we continue to face today. I look forward to the attendance and active engagement of the Howard University community, so that we may all stimulate dialogue across campus following Mr. Comey’s address.
 
Every member of our community is encouraged to attend. Classes will be suspended between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in conjunction with this historic occasion. 

The Time Is Always Now!
 
Excellence in Truth and Service,
 
Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA
President