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Howard University’s 2019 Charter Day Dinner Celebrates 152 Years of Excellence While Raising Funds for Students

WASHINGTON (March 3, 2019) – More than 1,000 guests celebrated the 152nd University Charter Day with a magnificent dinner at the Washington Hilton. Held Saturday, March 2, the 95th Charter Day Dinner serves as Howard's premiere fundraising event, one of the most important activities for the University. This year, the proceeds will directly address the financial aid needs that exist for Howard students.

“Howard University has answered the call to educate deserving young men and women, regardless of their financial circumstances,” said Vice President David Bennett, Development and Alumni Relations. “For 152 years, that mission has remained unchanged. We greatly appreciate the support of our corporate donors and individual sponsors whose philanthropy continues to ensure that our students will be able make ends meet to complete their educational goals.”

Howard University Board of Trustees Chairman Stacey J. Mobley, Esq., and Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick, who were both present with their families, introduced the honorees. The occasion was a grand gesture to honor three accomplished alumni, Rosie Allen-Herring, Lori George Billingsley, and Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford, along with one long-term and impactful University staff member, LaRue V. Barkwell. Each one has made significant contributions to their communities and in their fields of work.

The evening was impeccably emceed by alumnus and CNN Anchor Victor Blackwell, who reminded the audience that “Bison are everywhere and we exude excellence in all that we do.”

Guests were also entertained with an incomparable performance by Academy and Grammy award-winning Vocalist Regina Belle. Several public officials joined the festivities, including Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, alumnus and former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, alumna and former DC Mayor Sharon Pratt and Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd. Tables were also filled with members of the Howard University Alumni Association, special guests like alumna and WUSA9 News Anchor Lesli Foster, and executive leaders of the many corporate sponsors, including Bank of America, BDO, George S. Willie and Bert Smith & Co., Trustee Rev. D. Michele V. Hagans and Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation, Trustee Godfrey Gill and Lyrical Partners L.P., Trustee Mobley & Dr. Joan Thompson Mobley and Pepco Holdings, Inc. & Exelon, to name a few.

As the last course of dinner was served, Chairman Mobley and President Frederick brought the honorees to the stage. Each presentation opened with a short video exploring their backgrounds from youth to college and beyond. The awards began with Rosie Allen-Herring, president and CEO of the United Way of the National Capital Area, honoring her in the field of business and public service.

“I’m humbled beyond belief as I stand before you tonight,” said Allen-Herring.

She reflected on her Howard experience noting, “from my first days in the Quad being in Wheatley Hall, to being an RA, and most importantly to meeting 37 of the most phenomenal young women as ‘Auspicious 38’ of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, my time at Howard was tremendous.”

Next, Mobley and Frederick presented Lori George Billingsley, honoring her for her impact in the field of communications. She stood on stage as the room cheered endlessly due to the statements she made about the importance of diversity and inclusion, referencing her impact as the global chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Coca-Cola Company. She acknowledged the Charter Day committee, Gracie Lawson-Borders, Ph.D., dean of the Cathy Hughes School of Communications, and others for who “made this possible,” including her best friend and college roommate. 

“When I enrolled in Howard University 30 years ago, I thought this experience would last just long enough for me to obtain my degree. I could have never known, that Dr. Lawrence Kaggwa, Dr. Barbara Hines, and Carol Dudley, and many more would have such an impact on who I would become.” She highlighted that Kaggwa wanted her to come back and teach, which she did. She also acknowledged her mentor Debbie Miller who said she “was her greatest contribution to the public relations profession.”

The room laughed as she joked about her previous dream of becoming a cosmetologist. “I am so grateful that my mom put a stop to my plans of going to cosmetology school, and opening a hair salon with my best friend… and made me fill out my application to Howard. I could have never imagined the first time I stepped onto Howard’s campus, that more than 30 years later I would be coming back to receive this prestigious award at my alma mater that I love so much.”

The Maryland Lt. Governor, Boyd K. Rutherford, received his award for his influence in the field of public service.

“I want to be remembered as a man of integrity,” said Rutherford. “I am extremely proud of this honor, something I didn’t think about forty plus years ago…I really appreciated every moment at Howard.” He ended by thanking his family present that evening, including his wife and youngest daughter.

"This is going to be difficult for me to get through," said President Frederick as he presented LaRue V. Barkwell, his former chief of staff and a dedicated servant to Howard University, with the first Capstone Barkwell Distinguished Service Award, renamed in her honor. 

LaRue Barkwell started her career at Howard University as a secretary for the assistant registrar. She then worked in the Office of Financial Aid, Enrollment Management, and the School of Business to assist the dean. 

“Each time I moved through Howard, it wasn’t because I was looking to go to another job, or needing something new to do. I was very fortunate to understand the very workings of the various departments,” said Barkwell.

With much emotion, she stated, “When I think of Howard, I think of the caring, dedicated, compassionate and sharing nature of this community. I think of the many challenges we’ve faced and how we’ve turned those challenges into opportunities. I feel so blessed to have worked with the best.”

President Frederick concluded the evening by thanking everyone far, retired, present and no longer with us. He told the students in the room, “your boldness and innovation is what is most exciting about Howard’s future. Please continue to exceed your greatest expectations and break barriers.”

He also highlighted Alfred Street Baptist Church for their $100,000 contribution to pay the outstanding balances of 34 graduating seniors. Impressed with how the individual contributions of many can be combined to make a significant impact, he encouraged the audience to donate even more because every gift makes a huge difference in the lives of our students.

Throughout the evening, the entire room was filled with energetic alumni, faculty, current students, and friends of Howard reminiscing on their collegiate and current endeavors. Two-time graduate, and third-time attendee of the dinner, Trichina Grant, was proud to be celebrating with the University’s family, enjoying the fellowship.

“Even though we’ve graduated from Howard, we feel that we’re still part of the community,” said Grant. 

“We’re so happy to be here tonight to support Howard students,” said Mark S. Lenhart, executive director of CET Academic Programs. “Our special mission is to help Howard students have the opportunity to go aboard. We feel that is an important transformational experience that will really them help reach any dream that they have. The experience of going abroad can help them change their perspective, and partly help understand what an amazing experience they have at Howard.”

President Frederick added that there must be a continuation of “The Howard University” in history making, continuously making humor about being the one and only “HU.”

“Congratulations on 152 years to my alma mater. This institution has become more essential in this very treacherous society that we have to navigate. Remember, even when the seas are rough and even when the waves are breaking heavy, the ship of Howard will always be steady.”

To support by donating to Howard University, visit: www.giving.howard.edu  

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About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States.  For more information on Howard University visit www.howard.edu

Media Contact: Imani Pope-Johns, Imani.popejohns@howard.edu