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Howard University’s 2023 Charter Day Dinner Celebrates 156 Years of Excellence

President Frederick at Charter Day Dinner 2023

WASHINGTON – More than 1,200 students, alumni, faculty, and administrators celebrated the 156th anniversary of  Howard University’s chartering during the annual Charter Day Dinner. The event was held on Saturday, March 4, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel.  

This was the first in-person Charter Day dinner held since 2020. The dinner serves as the University’s premiere fundraising event and proceeds will directly support the financial needs of Howard students.  

“Charter Day is a time-honored tradition that is a testament to Howard’s status as one of the greatest success stories in American and global higher education,” said Laurence C. Morse, PhD, chairman of the Howard University Board of Trustees. 

Following the opening jazz cocktail reception, guests entered the beautifully decorated ballroom where a three-course, chicken breast and butter poached lobster dinner was served. Award-winning comedienne and actress Loni Love served as the evening’s mistress of ceremonies. As an HBCU graduate herself, she shared her pride in Howard’s accomplishments throughout the night. Love kicked off the Charter Day dinner by introducing this year’s performers, En Vogue, who performed hits “Never Gonna Get It” and “Free Your Mind.” Before the nights awardees were recognized, En Vogue returned to the stage to perform “Who’s Lovin’ You” and “Hold On.” 

Six outstanding Howard University alumni were honored at the dinner with the Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement: visual artist Bisa Butler (BFA ’95), CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller (B.A. ’89), renowned trauma surgeon Edward E. Cornwell III (M.D. ’89), the first Black woman to receive an MBA from Harvard Business School Lillian Lincoln Lambert (B.A. ’66), director of NASA’s James Webb telescope Gregory L. Robinson (B.S. ’83), and former head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Howard Lewis Thigpen, PhD (B.S. ’64). 

Each honoree shared their Howard matriculation story and postgraduate career journey through video presentations shown before receiving the award. The crowd followed each presentation with a rousing standing ovation. A common thread throughout the night was the feeling of belonging each honoree felt when they arrived at Howard. 

“When I got to Howard, there was a creativity in the school of fine arts and all around us that made me feel like I could bloom here, I could grow, and people understood me,” said Butler. “It feels amazing to be able to let my professors know that I did what they said and that I’m going to pass that torch on to the next person.” 

“Howard was one of those places where I felt like I belonged. This was a space that I didn’t have to pretend, I didn’t have to fake it, I could be my true and authentic self because everyone else was. Being recognized in this way is really a recognition of my father and my grandmother placing me in the care of an institution that they knew was going to do right by me— somewhere I could contribute to the long-storied history of that is now and claims to be the place that the first Black vice president of the United States also went,” said Miller. 

Anita L. English, assistant secretary for university operations and director of policy management in the Office of the Secretary, received the LaRue V. Barkwell Capstone Distinguished Service Award

“Anyone that has ever worked with. Mrs. Barkwell knows her to be the epitome of grace and confidence, so any award that is named after her is an honor to receive,” said English. “This award recognizes the importance of university staff and how we are the glue that holds everything together.” 

Boogie Down Productions DJ D-Nice provided the soundtrack as guests closed the evening on the dance floor with singing and dancing. As always, the annual gala proved to be a memorable evening for the Howard community— one that will launch the University forward. 

About Howard University  

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced two Schwarzman Scholars, four Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American PhD. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu