Oct 21, 2022 - News

Howard University hits record for HBCU research funding

Howard University campus

Photo: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Howard University said it took a step toward joining the top tier of U.S. research universities after raising $122 million in research funding, a record for any historically Black college or university.

Why it matters: HBCUs say they have long had to do more with fewer resources. Attaining the elite status of what's known as a Research 1 university would make Howard the only HBCU on the list, helping it further attract the best researchers, professors, and students.

  • The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education designates Research 1 schools using a methodology that measures the level of research activity at schools. Howard says it could attain the rank in the "coming years."
  • It would be a homecoming for the Washington institution founded in 1867. The school had R1 status from 1987 until a shift in criteria in 2005, according to Howard vice president for research Bruce Jones.

What they’re saying: “It allows us to expand further on our mission, which is to serve all communities, with particular regard to communities of color, which are too often left out of research,” Jones tells Axios.

  • Jones says the funding will fuel research in artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, health disparities, genomics, and more.
  • For example, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative partnered with Howard and three other historically Black medical colleges last month to “further support cutting-edge scientific research to address significant gaps in genomics,” per a press release.

The big picture: Howard has undergone a resurgence in recent years. Credit agencies including Moody’s have upgraded the university's outlook from negative to stable and expanded its real estate portfolio. The university is currently rebuilding its hospital.

By the numbers: University officials expect to continue raising $100 million annually over the next decade from competitive research grants and contracts, separate from the school’s fundraising efforts.


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