Howard University Launches Ambitious $785M Building Construction, Narrowly Avoids Faculty Strike For Higher Wages

Howard University Launches Ambitious $785M Building Construction, Narrowly Avoids Faculty Strike For Higher Wages

Howard University

An iconic Howard University building, Founders Library, Washington, D.C., by Derek E. Morton, Aug. 16, 2017

Howard University announced a massive $785 million dollar campus expansion, which the institution said is the largest in its history, just days before the famed HBCU narrowly avoided a strike by its adjunct professors.

The planned construction project includes three new academic buildings, the Washington Business Journal reported.

“This is a watershed moment in the history of our institution,” Howard University Frederick said in a statement released on Wednesday, March 23. “Because of the tremendously enhanced financial posture we have worked so hard to achieve, the state of the university has never been stronger.” 

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Frederick credited the entire Howard community for the school’s success.

“The leadership of our board and executive team, along with the caliber of students we have enrolled, the illustrious faculty we have assembled, the dedicated staff we have hired, and the committed alumni base we have cultivated, presents an opportunity for us to solidify Howard’s status as one of the preeminent institutions of higher education in the country,” Frederick continued.

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The announcement came just one day after the university narrowly dodged a planned three-day strike by Howard’s part-time adjunct and non-tenured professors, which was set to begin Wednesday.

The Teaching Faculty Union – which is represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500 — was due to strike over pay, benefits, and job stability. They announced they’d “reached an initial resolution” with the administration, NBC News reported.

The group tweeted they’d “reached a tentative agreement” with Howard University at 3:26 a.m. on Wednesday, March 23, and as a result, were “calling off the strike.”

They added, “This tentative agreement is subject t a vote of ratification by the union membership, which will be scheduled in the coming weeks.”

The group noted earlier they’d resorted to the strike after three years of negotiations failed to yield any results. 

Sean Pears, a non-tenure-track full-time faculty member in the school’s English department, told NBC News the school changed its tune when they called a strike.

“Since we called the strike, there’s been a very different tone at the table and a sudden willingness to actually bargain,” Pears said. “We would very much like to settle, and I’d say we’re getting indications that the administration feels the same, but we’re not there yet.”

Howard University Provost Anthony Wutoh said the school would keep its promise to negotiate.

“We successfully doubled down on our promise to bargain in good faith with the SEIU and deliver a fair labor contract for faculty, the University and our community,” Wutoh said, noting “the agreement is subject to ratification by Howard University’s president and the bargaining units.”


PHOTO: Howard University’s iconic Founders Library, Washington, D.C. (Derek E. Morton, Aug. 16, 2017), Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en