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Posted at 7:05 PM ET, 01/11/2010

What James Cheek accomplished at Howard

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Michael R. Winston
Washington

Regarding the Jan. 10 obituary for James E. Cheek, “Howard president’s tenure marked by turmoil”:

The additional facts illustrate how selectively negative, and therefore distorted, was your account of the 1969-89 administration of Howard University president James E. Cheek:

The creation of the following schools and colleges: the School of Architecture and Planning, the College of Applied Health Sciences, the School of Business and Public Administration, the School of Communications, the School of Continuing Education, the School of Education and the School of Nursing.

Major additions to the university included: a 500-bed Howard University Hospital, the Seeley Mudd Medical Building, the Armour J. Blackburn University Center, a 22-acre law school campus, a 20-acre divinity school campus, a radio station and a television station, the Howard University Press and 10 nationally recognized research institutes and centers.

Also, under Mr. Cheek’s leadership, the value of the institution’s endowment grew by 712 percent, the federal appropriation by 507 percent, the operating budget by 869 percent. Student enrollment increased by 33 percent and faculty by 52 percent.

James Cheek rebuilt and transformed the university. The obituary made a great mistake in stating that his goal was “to help Howard maintain its standing as one of the nation’s preeminent black educational institutions.” His program aimed to make Howard one of the top-tier research universities in the United States.

The writer was vice president for academic affairs at Howard University from 1983 to 1990.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | January 11, 2010; 7:05 PM ET
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