Search Committee Says New President Is Up To The Challenge - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Fisk's Search Committee Says New President Is Up To The Challenge

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By Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The legacy of Fisk University evokes much pride in its alumni and students. Nearly 150 years later, that legacy continues to be is marked by struggle.

"We must have a new day at Fisk," Student Government Association President Philippe Andal said. "It's time for us to build upon this legacy; to get the finances, to get the resources to be able to do so.

A struggle newly appointed president Dr. James Williams is willingly taking on.

"He has the full monty so to speak," Howard Gentry, Presidential Search Committee member, said.

Williams is currently the Dean of the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

"He's got experience in the classroom. He has experience in administration," Gentry explained. "And he's also a fundraiser."

Dr. Williams will succeed Hazel O'Leary who is retiring after being at the University for the past eight years.

"She came in a very rough time in the University, when they said it was going to close,"Andal said. "When they said it was going to shut down."

The University is routinely on the brink of running out of money. Meanwhile the school's accreditation hangs in the balance, after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) placed Fisk on probation.

"Without SACS there's no Fisk. That accreditation is very important. He brings that experience too," Gentry added.

The goal for Dr. Williams is not to re-write Fisk's legacy, but to renew it.

"They should be excited that we have a man who has a vision, who cares about students," Andal said. "Who puts students first and actually cares about furthering the legacy of our institution."

But one thing Fiskites, as they call themselves, know from the past, is that no matter the hardship they'll get through it.

"We're still here and we're still standing."

Williams begins on February 1, 2013.


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