Monday, May 12, 2008


My wife and I attended our 40th Class Reunion at Howard University last weekend. A major topic of conversation was the announcement of our new president. The current president, H. Patrick Swygert (1994-2008) was a student when our class was in residence, earning a BA in 1965 and receiving his law degree with us in 1968, so he was a "friend" of many of us.

The debate was familiar - the Trustees ratified the recommendation of the selection committee chaired by Gen. Colin Powell and Richard Parsons, Chair of the Time Warner Board. The new president is Dr. Sidney Ribeau, currently the president of Bowling Green State University. Some were bothered that he had no prior connection with Howard and it would take him a long while to ramp up. Sound familiar? I guess many institutions and organizations have this debate.

The institution has only had two of the 15 former presidents receive degrees there. The current president has been there 13 years and has been president of two other schools. The first graduate president was there only four years and had many problems before leaving.

So back and forth it went, with no resolution on what model worked best. One classmate who is a dean elsewhere observed that after the long tenure of an "insider," an "outsider" has some definite advantages. I tend to agree. Is the reverse true as well?

The other topic of discussion was the absence of three of our more "well known/highly placed" classmates: The Prime Minister of Bermuda, the Mayor of Atlanta, and The Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Could have gotten real interesting!

I guess the 50th will be here before we know it!

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