The Office of the Chief Strategy Officer, in collaboration with partners across the university, monitors leading indicators tied to each Howard Forward pillar. These indicators help assess how progress on the plan is producing outcomes for the university. The data for these indicators are regularly updated, at minimum annually.  

Note: We recommend using a desktop computer or device with a large screen when viewing the data below.

Enhance Academic Excellence

Since 2014, before even the start of Howard Forward, President Frederick has set ambitious goals and invested heavily to improve academics, including increasing enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. This investment saw the university surpass its original enrollment goal of 10,000 in 2020 (enrolling 10,859 students) and setting a new goal of 12,500 by 2024. Retention rates from freshman to sophomore and junior years have risen notably since the start of Howard Forward. And graduation rates have been trending upward steadily – in 2022 U.S. News ranked Howard University second among HBCUs for four-year graduation rates.


In the fall of 2021, Howard University recorded a total enrollment of 12,065. This represents an approximately 10% increase in enrollment from the previous year. Our goal is to reach a total enrollment of 12,500 by 2024.


Retention Rates

In the fall of 2021, Howard University recorded a retention rate of 91% for freshman moving into sophomore year, and a rate of 83% for previous freshman now moving into their junior year. Both rates have increased 5 and 7 percentage points, respectively, since the start of Howard Forward. Our goal is to reach retention rates of 95% and 85%, respectively, by 2024.


Graduation Rates

Beginning even before the start of Howard Forward, the overall trend for Howard University graduation rates has been upward. In spring of 2021, Howard University recorded a graduation rate of 60%, the highest in recent record. By 2024 our goal is to reach a six-year graduation rate of 80%, a four-year rate of 70%, and a three-year rate of 10%.

Data for spring 2022 graduation rates will be released in the fall/winter of this year.


Post Grad and Employment

In the most recent surveys, 75% of respondents from the Class of 2021 indicated having secured a placement post graduation. By 2024 our goal is to reach a placement rate of 92%.

Inspire New Knowledge

Increasing the depth and diversity of research and scholarship is a major focus of President Frederick and the Howard Forward Strategic Plan. The number and size of externally funded research grants has grown dramatically in recent years, most recently surpassing projections for 2021 and on track to exceed $100 million in 2022. Howard University also continues to grow as a premier research institution, currently holding R2 ‘High Research Activity’ status from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The university aims to achieve R1 ‘Very High Research Activity’ status by 2024, already outpacing the average R1 institution in conferral of doctoral degrees by nearly two-to-one.

Research Grants and Contracts

In 2021 Howard University exceeded its projections for number of research grant proposals produced by 30%, reaching 586 proposals for an award total of $91.9 million. By 2024 we aim to produce at least 700 research grant proposals annually for an award total exceeding $100 million.


Carnegie Classification

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is an institutional classification used to categorize Doctoral Universities based on their research activity metrics. There are three classifications these universities may receive: R1 Highest research activity, R2 - Higher research activity, and R3 - Moderate research activity. Howard currently holds the R2 classification, however, by 2024 we aim to become the first HBCU to receive R1 classification.

Serve the Community

Howard University has a long and rich history of service on our campus and to our neighboring communities. In recent years, as part of the Howard Forward Strategic Plan, we have begun surveying students, faculty, and staff about community engagement and volunteer hours, calculating the value of that service based on Independent Sector’s Value of Volunteer Time for that year. We have seen a rebound in volunteering this past year after the pandemic affected in-person activities, up ten-fold from 2020 for a total service value of over $350,000. The university continues to offer and expand opportunities for service, including our annual Day of Service and Alternative Spring Break. We also have grown our partnerships with external organizations for philanthropic and scholarship opportunities.



Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for service fell significantly in 2020 and into 2021. In 2021, volunteer hours served by students, faculty, and staff reached 12,400 for a total dollar value of $353,896. By 2024 we aim to produce a volunteer service value of nearly $3 million.


Alternative Spring Break

Howard University Alternative Spring Break (HUASB) is a service-learning program coordinated out of the Office of the Dean of the Chapel designed to connect students with distressed communities and to explore the ethical and spiritual dimensions of leadership as it challenges students to discern how their unique gifts and skills can be used to address the problems of communities in need and the world at-large.

HUASB works in partnership with cities across the world to provide service projects that incorporate physical labor, civic education and practical responses to the most prevalent disparities in our partner cities. Howard University has sent thousands of students to serve in domestic and international sites across the nation and the world.



In 2022 established partnerships reached a total of 45. By 2024 we aim to have at least 60 partnerships established.

Improve Efficiency & Effectiveness

Howard University is committed to reviewing the efficiency and effectiveness of administrative and operational systems and processes, seeking the best ways to save resources, reduce time, and improve quality. This includes evaluating efforts to improve hiring, contracting and procurement, and payment of vendors. Much like other organizations, the pandemic continues to affect the university’s ability to find qualified candidates and hire in a timely manner, as well as the supply chains and the turnaround time for procured goods and services. We did, however, make great strides in identifying monetary savings in our procurements – the university saw an over 70% increase in total savings from 2020 to 2021.


Time to Hire

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of business days it takes the university on average to fill a vacancy. At the most recent assessment, the average was 65 days. By 2024 we aim to reduce that number to 30 business days. 


Time to Procure

The time it takes on average to procure goods and services has stayed static over the past few years, at 8.2 business days. By 2024 we aim to reduce this number to 5 business days. Currently, we are working to supplement the staff of the Office of Procurement and Contracting, as well as work with related partner offices to systematically assess procurement processes, in order to reach this goal.


Time to Pay

For vendor payments overall, the university averages about 70% of invoices are paid within the terms of the contract. Delays may arise for a number of reasons, including delays in satisfactory completion of billed work and identification of additional funds for cost increases. By 2024 we aim to increase our on-time payment rate to 80% for contracts with shorter terms (30 days) and 85% for contracts with standard terms (60 days).


Procurement Savings

Through the identification of special offers, rebates, bulk ordering, and other creative approaches to procurement, the Office of Procurement and Contracting has produced significant savings for the university over the past few years. As of 2021 we have cumulatively saved $6.85 million. This is an over 70% increase from the amount recorded in 2020. By 2024 we aim to increase the cumulative amount saved to $11 million.

Achieve Financial Sustainability

Under the leadership of President Frederick, the university has made great strides in improving its financial standing and outlook. The university’s endowment has doubled in the past decade, consistently outperforming peer institutions and allowing the university to support more student financial aid, teaching, research, innovation, public service initiatives, a growing campus, and other strategic initiatives. This and other improvements to Howard University’s finances resulted in a credit rating upgrade in 2022. We also continue to outpace the national average for alumni giving rates.



The most recent assessment of the university’s endowment in mid-2022 put the total amount at $832 million. This takes into account the market instability the U.S. and world have seen generally this year. This total for the endowment represents a near doubling in the past decade. By 2024 we aim to increase the endowment to meet or exceed $1 billion.


Credit Rating

In the past year credit rating agencies Fitch and S&P Global Ratings both revised their ratings for Howard University up from ‘stable’ to ‘positive,’ recognizing the “exceptional strategy Howard University has executed over multiple years to increase its financial strength.” This improvement means we have continued to successfully reduce financial risks at the university while also strengthening our ability to borrow funds for critical efforts, such as the Campus Master Plan.


Alumni Giving

The Howard University alumni giving rate has remained steady in recent years, even as overall donor gifts have grown. The most recent assessment, in 2021, recorded the alumni giving rate at 11.9%. This is in comparison to recent years’ national averages for alumni giving, which were generally around 8-9%. By 2024 we aim to increase our alumni giving rate to 20%.


Development Cost

Gifts from philanthropy, alumni, and other partners are critical to supporting the teaching, learning, and research priorities of the university. Our goal is to be as efficient as we can be in cultivating and raising those gifts. The cost to raise one dollar is one way we measure the efficiency of our development activities.

Campus Contributions to Howard Forward

Associate Dean Talbert, College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences

The College of Nursing and Allied Health has made major contributions to pillar two, inspire new knowledge, and pillar three, serve the community. This team has continued to strive to become more competitive by working diligently to recruit more talented faculty, increase scholarship, support grant writing, and offer faculty engagement and leadership training sessions. As a result, the College of Nursing and Allied Health has continued to foster notable collaborations within the university’s community and externally.   

In 2015, the University of Pittsburgh launched the Leading Emerging and Diverse Scientist to Success (LEADS) training program, through a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The LEADS program provides multiple training platforms to increase skill and knowledge regarding research to promote multiple training platforms, expertise in grant writing and submission for funding. Howard University was one of nine Minority Serving Institutions that forged a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh to identify the discrepancy of underrepresented academicians and the impact of mentoring during the COVID-19 pandemic.   

The College of Nursing and Allied Health is also a key contributor to the ENACT Program (Expanding National Capacity in PCOR through Training) and New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing, which is a major collaboration for our nursing and allied health faculty and students.  In addition to fostering faculty and research collaborations, nursing students at Howard and NYU Meyers will have the opportunity to attend new and established programming through educational exchanges. Likewise, additional planning opportunities are in the process between the two universities. 

Amidst the pandemic, the College of Nursing and Allied Health faculty served the community by volunteering in the COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinic to provide vaccines to faculty, students, alumni, and the community. COVID-19 vaccines are available to all adults, with over 459.2 million doses given and 58% of the population now fully vaccinated in the United States. 

Associate Dean Frederick Ware, School of Divinity

The School of Divinity has enhanced academic excellence by exemplifying co-collaboration and co-creation by initiating two dual degree programs, such as Master of Social Work (MSW)/Master of Divinity (MDiv) and Master of Divinity (MDiv) and Master of Business Administration (MBA).  

The mission of the MSW/MDiv Dual Degree Program is to provide an integrated course of study that prepares graduates for faith-based ministry, enhances students’ identify and role in both social work and divinity and provides a convergence of conceptual frameworks from the bio-psycho-spiritual perspective at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of social and spiritual assessment and intervention.  

The MDiv/MBA degree program is tailored to meet the needs of today’s leaders who wish to gain a strong theological education and management education to enhance their effectiveness in ministry, business, non-profit, and public sector careers. By combining the disciplines, students can earn both degrees in less time than completing the degree separately. 

In addition, the School of Divinity in collaboration with the Sociology Department, has also made contributions to the serve the community pillar by developing the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which focuses on providing equity and access to higher education to incarcerated students. As a part of this initiative, Rev. Harold Trulear, Ph.D. leads the prison ministries and is the principal faculty member for the Ethics in the Washington Theology Consortium. 


Associate Dean Kim Lewis, College of Arts and Science

The College of Arts and Science (COAS) has committed to the enhance academic excellence pillar by increasing its competitive advantage. There is an ongoing Search Committee for two departments who were charged to recruit talent based on scholarship and merit. Increasing the number of scholars is directly proportional to the capacity COAS has for faculty grant submissions (pre-awards) and managed grants (post-awards). These activities support scholarship/research and move the University towards obtaining a R1 designation (very high research activity) defined by the Carnegie Institution. Receiving this designation is a high-priority initiative under pillar two, inspire new knowledge. 

In addition, Associate Dean Lewis has led an effort to improve efficiency and effectiveness by streamlining asset management and process optimization to track a portfolio of start-up accounts and grant account spending. These accounts are a form of research incentives to increase scholarship and research. Associate Dean Lewis has been instrumental in reducing barriers for faculty by making information on the utilization of these accounts more accessible through the development of policies and procedures that faculty may apply as a guideline. Increased science and non-science expenditures is a research activity metric identified by the Carnegie Institute for very high research institutions. These activities are reflective of both the inspire new knowledge and achieve financial sustainability pillars.