US News & World Report’s annual rankings of the nation’s colleges and universities shows that Howard University, a historically Black college in Washington, D.C., has risen 14 slots since last year to 110th in the National Universities category.
“The things that we’ve been doing at the university are really aimed at academic excellence and ensuring that we have the best environment for our students, says Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, president of Howard University.
Frederick was in a meeting when he received the notification that his school had moved up on the list.
“I saw the email pop up, I opened it, and I was shocked,” he says. “We have had three consecutive years, under my presidency, of double-digit gains.”
The last two years, Howard has experienced a 10-position, then 11-position increase in its ranking, Frederick shares.
“To then come a third consecutive year and go up 14 points was just really, really overwhelming,” Frederick says.
Frederick, both an alum and the 17th president, says that over the course of the past three years of his presidency, he has employed a strategy that would cause movements in the right direction in three areas: graduation rate, retention rate, and alumni support.
“We’ve started an Office of Undergraduate Studies that really focused on having students take 15 credits as part of our retention and graduation program,” says Frederick. “Next summer, students will be able to take up to six credits free, as long as, they have a balance of zero at the end of the spring semester, as part of our program where they can take 42 credits in any combination in the fall, spring and summer.”
The university has also had significant alumni engagement, reaching them through State of the University addresses and webinars.
“We’ve done several webinars, where alums and students and faculty can ask questions about the direction of the university,” says Frederick. “I’ve traveled throughout the U.S. to speak to our alum directly, as well, so they understand what we are trying to do.”
Howard University also is seeking to become more selective and attract more highly qualified students with stronger ACT and SAT test scores. For Fall 2016, the school had a 30 percent acceptance rate.
Frederick says that programs such as the Bison STEM Scholar program, which has welcomed its first student cohort this fall, and Howard West, a collaboration with Google to diversify Silicon Valley, reflect the university’s drive for success.
The university also was ranked in other categories, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2nd), High School Counselors’ Top College Picks (62nd), Best Value Schools (75th) and Business School (128th).