More than 1,500 guests were on hand March 8 at the Washington Hilton in Northwest Washington for Howard University’s 90th Charter Day Gala. Each year the event raises funds to provide scholarships to deserving students. This year’s event raised almost $10 million, including $4.9 from the trust of the late Dr. Richard Francis Jones, who once served as chief of urology at Howard University Hospital. Alfred C. Liggins III, CEO and president of media conglomerate Radio One, gave $4 million to the Howard University School of Communications in honor of his mother and company founder, Cathy Hughes.

The mistress of ceremonies for the event was Tony Award-winning actress, singer and director Phylicia Rashad, a Howard alumnus. Entertainment was provided by Grammy Award-winning gospel singer and actor BeBe Winans.

A highlight of the evening occurred when two scholarship students were invited to the dais to discuss how the aid they received kept them in school, instead of being forced to drop out for lack of funds, as many Black students do each year.

Howard honored four members of the alumni for extraordinary achievement. The awardees were Dr. Patricia E. Bath, recognized for her success in medicine, ophthalmology, and research; T. Eloise Foster, honored for her accomplishments in public service; Dr. James H. Johnson Jr., for STEM education; and Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall Jr., recognized for his exemplary work in medicine, surgery and public health.

The event marked the 147th anniversary of the charter enacted by Congress, and subsequently approved by President Andrew Johnson on March 2, 1867, which established Howard University.

On Friday, March 7, Howard held the Charter Day convocation. The keynote speaker was Jamie Dimon, board chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co, who urged students to work hard to pursue their goals. The guests included a Who’s Who of the Washington area’s most influential Black business, political and public service leaders.