10/20/2013 07:47 am ET Updated Dec 20, 2013

Howard University Needs A New President: Henry Louis Gates Jr.


The "Best Colleges" rankings from US News & World Report are usually an opportunity for many colleges and universities to go into PR overdrive to attract the best and brightest to their campuses. For other schools, it's an opportunity to take stock of their aspirational goals. For Howard University, the school's decline in the rankings -- 22 positions from 2012 and 46 positions from 2010 -- represents an obvious crisis. For one, Sidney A. Ribeau, the university's president since 2008, recently announced his retirement.

A week after Howard University's descent in the rankings became news fodder, the New York Times profiled the relationship between venture capitalist Glenn Hutchins and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. The occasion of the profile was the launching of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, underwritten by a gift of $15 million to Harvard in support of the center. That sum is the largest individual gift ever in support of African and African-American studies.