Howard University luminaries, Hollywood celebrities, and D.C. dignitaries all converged to celebrate the retirement of four members of the University’s Board of Trustees and Howard’s 17th president, Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick.
The evening program was hosted by award-winning entertainer Anthony Anderson (BFA ’22), who opened by reminiscing on his relationship with Dr. Frederick, joking that during his son’s 2017 campus visit, Dr. Frederick held him accountable for never completing his own undergraduate degree at Howard. With Dr. Frederick’s encouragement and support, Anderson graduated in 2022.
“I know I’m grateful that he signed my degree, and becoming a graduate of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts is a memory I will cherish forever,” Anderson said. “So thank you, Howard University, and thank you, Dr. Frederick.”
Laurence C. Morse, PhD (BA ’73), chairman of the Howard University Board of Trustees, first honored the retiring trustees: the Honorable Alphonso R. Jackson, the Honorable Ronald A. Rosenfeld, Ms. Abigail Hall, and Mr. Brent Drenon, Esq. Each received commemorative plaques celebrating their terms of service. “Each of you has left an indelible imprint on this institution, and we all have been made better for your contributions,” Morse said in his opening remarks. “Congratulations on a job well done.”
During a surprise tribute to Mrs. Simone Frederick, Morse lauded her service as the University’s First Lady, presenting her a painting on behalf of the Board of Trustees created by Mekbib Gebertsadik, a graduate student in the Boseman College of Fine Arts. According to Morse, the painting was handpicked for Mrs. Frederick by the college’s dean, Phylicia Rashad. “We hope that this work will always remind you of the high esteem, warm regard, and sincere gratitude of the Board of Trustees of Howard University for the legacy you have created as an exemplary role model for the Howard community,” Morse said.
After delivering acknowledgments from both chambers of the United States Congress and D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser, Morse had two final surprises for Dr. Frederick, announcing that June 8 has officially been declared Dr. Wayne Frederick Day in D.C., and that the University’s undergraduate library has been renamed the Wayne A. I. Frederick Undergraduate Library in his honor. An emotional Frederick used his address to thank his family, friends, and colleagues for their help on his Howard journey. “This opportunity, the past nine years, have been so transformative to me, to our family, to our University,” Frederick said. “I will never repay my debts to this place, but I do hope I’ve paid them down significantly.”
As for his imminent retirement, Frederick shared that he plans to practice medicine abroad, as well as return to his homeland of Trinidad to assist their students in their pursuit of higher education. He said that he called his mother and grandmother in Trinidad prior to the dinner, “just as I do before any seminal moment in my life,” and they reassured him that he was deserving of such an occasion.
“You’ve done good,” he said, recalling his grandmother’s words. “Now go enjoy your friends, have a drink, and have a good time.”