Thursday, January 30, 2014


Last updated: Friday 1/31/14 @ 7:37 pm
Yesterday, January 30, 2014, after 40 plus years of continuous, productive service, I was terminated by Howard University, along with many fellow employees whose numbers also came up in the "Termination Lottery"

Friends, family, and colleagues have asked me again and again throughout these 40 plus years why I stayed at HU for so long and what it would take to get me to leave. My answers were never satisfactory, perhaps because in my heart I knew that I was so devoted to HU that I would stay until terminated -- either by loss of mental capacity, physical disability, death, ... or by a losing lottery ticket. 

Unfortunately, there have been so many terminations at HU in the last five years and with so little positive results that the terminations have assumed a grotesquely random character. Like a gruesome Stephen King/Bachman novella, all HU employees now have invisible numbers tattooed on their foreheads ... the wheel spins every morning ... and when their numbers come up, they are terminated. Nothing personal. No reflection on the quality of their work. Unfortunately, the lottery wheel has been spinning much faster in recent years ... :-(

Despite my unshakeable devotion to HU, I have known about HU's institutional ingratitude since shortly after I was first hired. To be sure, a few productive, long-time faculty and staff are honored from time to time, e.g., at the annual Charter Day Dinners. But I have seen too many good people, great workers, wonderful colleagues ignored and/or pushed aside with little or no appreciation for their splendid contributions while they were here ... followed by an indecent silence when they were gone. In short, HU remains one of the most important institutions of higher education in the U.S. of A, but it has no soul. No matter how much you love HU, it does not love you back. 

A much, much younger part of me that still resides somewhere deep inside recalls my teenage conviction that life, as we know it, stopped at 30. So that younger self is quietly astonished that I'm still alive and in such good shape mentally and physically at age 72. Now that younger self is saying, "Good. That's finally over. What's next?" ... I don't know; but like Dylan Thomas, I will not "go gentle into that good night" ... :-)

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