Bass Berry & Sims recognizes Fisk scholars at reception for new Fisk president

Alonda W. McCutcheon, attorney; Fisk scholar Selena Crowley; Fisk scholar Chastity A. White; and Fisk President Dr. H. James Williams
(photo by Cass Teague).

H. James Williams is the 15th president of Fisk University, having assumed the office on February 1. He was introduced to a distinguished group of Nashvillians at a reception held in his honor and in recognition of two Fisk students, Selena Crowley and Chastity A. White. The reception was hosted by the African American Affinity Group (AAAG) of the prestigious law firm of Bass, Berry & Sims. In brief remarks, Dr. Williams, Ph.D., C.P.A., C.M.A., J.D., LL.M., shared that he and his wife, Carole Campbell Williams, are dedicated to engaging completely with the Nashville community to further the mission of Fisk.

“We have our challenges at Fisk. We know that we are a great institution, have been for a long time, and will be in the future. There is no doubt about that. We have some things to correct and we are correcting those things,” said Williams.

“The group there at the Fisk campus, faculty, staff, students—they are absolutely tremendous I couldn’t ask for a more committed, more dedicated group of professionals,” he said, acknowledging the support and hard work of the Fisk Board of Trustees, his development staff, and the entire Fisk faculty and staff. “And they understand the charge—that it devolves upon us to do what we must do to continue the great legacy that is Fisk University.”

The reception was held in place of the firm’s annual Emerging Leaders Luncheon, traditionally during African American History Month. With Fisk having a new president coming on board, and with two students being sponsored by scholarships by the firm, the AAAG decided to host the new president in a reception, which would also spotlight the achievements of their Fisk scholars. Bass, Berry & Sims established the scholarship in 2009 to support two Fisk students. Criteria for the scholarship include junior or senior status, 3.3 cumulative grade point average and intention to practice law.

Prior to his selection as Fisk president, Dr. Williams served as dean of the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Williams began at an HBCU, earning his B.S. degree in accounting at North Carolina Central University, then went on to earn his MBA in accounting at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), and his Ph.D. in accounting at the University of Georgia (Athens). He also earned the J.D. and LL.M. (in taxation) degrees at Georgetown University Law Center. As a certified public accountant and a certified management accountant, he brings a wealth of practical financial experiences, having worked in the public accounting profession and the legal profession as a corporate and tax attorney, to his new position as CEO of Fisk University. Throughout his career, Williams has received recognition for outstanding teaching—at Georgetown, at Texas Southern University, and at FAMU, where he received three ‘Teacher of the Year’ awards. His research work is widely published in scholarly and practitioner journals, and he serves on numerous community and corporate boards. The Winston-Salem native is married to Carole Campbell Williams of Flint, Michigan and they have two adult children.

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Profiles in excellence: Bass Berry & Sims Fisk Scholars for 2012-13

Two Fisk students are selected to receive scholarships from the law firm of Bass, Berry & Sims each year. Here is background information about each of this year’s recipients.

Chastity A. White is a junior political science major from Louisville, Ky. She has a cumulative GPA of 3.43 and was recently elected to serve as vice-president of the Fisk Student Government Association for the 2013-14 school year. She has served as president of the Fisk Political Science Club, president of the Young Democrats, Treasurer of the Fisk-National Council of Negro Women, a member of Women of Perfection, and of Students in Free Enterprise. She volunteers as a Big Sister in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and is a Resident Assistant on campus. Her scholarships include: Provost Scholar; Minor Daniels Scholarship recipient; a Regions Riding Forward Scholarship recipient, an Emerging Leader Award recipient, and a Louisville Metro Housing Authority Scholarship recipient. During her sophomore year at Fisk, she founded W.O.R.T.H. (Women Organized to Realize They’re Human) an organization that helps women who have been victims of rape and/or domestic violence to seek counseling. Chasity plans to continue her education by attending law school after graduating from Fisk, and seek a career in justice for the weak and disadvantaged.

Selena Crowley is a senior majoring in political science and sociology and hails from Florida. Upon graduating from Fisk, she will be attending UCLA in the fall for graduate studies in federal Indian policy and tribal government and judicial systems. Selena spent her previous summer in New York City at Columbia University as a Mellon research fellow, conducting research on the allocation of Indian gaming revenues and its correlation to Native American political participation. Since returning to Nashville, she has been working as a field research collector at Vanderbilt Center for Research on Health Disparities. She plans to continue her studies at UCLA in the School of Law.