Howard University Responding to Embezzlement


Six student employees were terminated by Howard University for embezzling financial aid funds. The students made up fake scholarships and found other ways to steal what could be more than $1 million.

On Twitter, the student association unleashed its frustration with the university's response. In a statement, President Wayne Frederick expressed empathy for this frustration and for other reactions:

Hearing about the mishandling of funds at the University can be difficult to process. I can also understand how upsetting it is to feel that the University has not communicated with you regarding this incident. The goal established at the onset of this investigation was to conduct it in a confidential manner that ensured a thorough examination of the issues without jeopardizing the integrity of the findings. However, that does not mitigate the sense of mistrust that many students and members of our community feel right now. We understand that and we hear you.

The statement also describes plans for investigating the charges and ends on a positive note.


  • The above paragraph from the president's statement raises an interesting conundrum: how do leaders ensure both privacy and transparency? The same issue is relevant to investigating sexual harassment claims. What are your thoughts? How, if at all, is it possible to achieve both?
  • Assess the president's statement. Who is the audience, and what are the communication objectives? How is the statement organized? How would you describe the writing style, tone, and so forth?
  • How well does the president's statement demonstrate accountability?