Dr. David Jones, Jr., Schrader Lane Church of Christ
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Fisk University is one of Nashville's historic landmarks, but the cash-strapped school is in serious financial trouble.
The university is counting on a special fundraising drive to keep the school's doors open.
The school tried to ease its money problems by selling its share of several Georgia O'Keefe paintings earlier this year, but the school ran into legal troubles, forcing it to look elsewhere for much needed funding.
The school points to its academic reputation and improved graduation rates as proof that the historic university deserves to stick around.
As a student, Hazel O'Leary used to visit Fisk's library. Now as the school's president she's hoping to save it - and the rest of the university.
"It is fair to say that Fisk has been on a roller coaster in respect to need and desire," said O'Leary.
The school has fought major financial troubles. Administrators were worried its operating budget would be sapped by December.
"We spent a great amount of effort on a grant proposal," said O'Leary.
Fisk went on to receive a $1 million grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation. They could get $2 million more if the school can raise an additional $4 million by June 30, 2008.
Donations have come in mostly from the church community. The Schrader Lane Church of Christ just this week gave the school $20,000.
"Fisk deserves to continue to live well in Nashville and continue its long legacy here," Dr. David Jones, minister of the Schrader Lane Church of Christ, said about the decision to donate the money.
While O'Leary hopes donations keep coming in, she also wants to make sure the university spends those donations wisely, meaning some programs could be cut.
"You can't right the ship by just raising revenues. You have to cut expenses," said O'Leary.
The cuts and up to $7 million in new funds could help Fisk stay open for the next several years.
"There is a saying, ‘Fisk forever,' and it has an exclamation point at the end of it. I cannot imagine this nation without Fisk University, so - Fisk forever!" said O'Leary.
While the university has received several donations so far, Fisk still has to raise almost all of the $4 million.
Fisk is also raising money for endowed scholarships and plans to begin a capital campaign in 2010.
For information about donating to Fisk University, log onto http://www.fisk.edu or call 615-329-8210.