WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Howard University is considered the Premier Historic Black University in the Country.
Its founding dates back to a few years after the end of the Civil War in 1867. But now, Board of Trustee member Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, an attorney and Howard alum, wrote in a letter to other trustees, that their "beloved University is in genuine trouble."
Higginbotham-Brooks said because there are fewer students who can arrange financial aid, along with dropping enrollment and the financial drain of the Howard University Hospital, it could cripple the school and that "Howard will not be here in three years if we don't make some crucial decisions now."
Some students and a professor WUSA9 spoke to today were not alarmed.
"We've seen better financial days, but I don't think our University is in danger of going broke. We're building two new dorms; we're building a center, so I think we're OK. We're not disappearing in three years," said Cynthia Edouarcin, the executive president with the Student Council in the College of Nursing.
One of the concerns in Higginbotham-Brooks' letter is the possible reduction of federal funding. She's concerned that Howard's $234 million dollar federal appropriation will diminish under sequestration. She also says the school has 5000 employees on the payroll, "too many" to serve only 10, 000 students.
Higginbotham-Brooks is also upset that the Board of Trusteesrecently turned her position ofVice Chair into two Vice Chairpositions.
She wrote in her letter, "I was shocked, and truly offended, andextremely disappointed with this under-handed tactic, which is inconsistent with the manner in which we do business asa board." She's been a Trustee for 14 years.
Howard University Officials dispute the charges.
In an email answering WUSA9's questions, Howard's director of communications, Dr. Kerry-Ann Hamilton, wrote that "Howard remains academically, financially and operationally strong." She said the school has balanced its budget for three consecutive years and its endowment is more than $500 million and growing.
University officials also explained thatdividing the Vice Chair duties between two people is an example ofbest practices at many universities.
A confidant of Higginbotham-Brooks tells WUSA9 that she agreed not to share her concerns with the press. Her letter was not intended to be made public, the source says.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton wells WUSA9 that after recently talking with Howard's president, she has every confidence that Howard University will continue to be the Flagship University for Black America that it's been since its founding.
In Brooks' letter to trustees, she complains about the fact that she was recently removed as Vice Chair from the board.