Fisk University ready for new academic year

Fisk President H. James Williams (center) with wife Carole Williams (at right) and Fisk alumna Cassandra Teague Walker (at left). photo: Cass Teague

Fisk President H. James Williams (center) with wife Carole Williams (at right) and Fisk alumna Cassandra Teague Walker (at left). photo: Cass Teague

As students prepare to enroll for fall classes at Fisk University, President Dr. H. James Williams announced that Fisk ended fiscal year 2013 in the black. The president indicated that the alumni participation rate reached 26.47%, the highest that it has been since fiscal year 2007 when it was 28.00%.

“Thanks to the unwavering support of our trustees, alumni and friends, and the hard work of our advancement team, we raised $5,580,390 of which $5,172,510 were unrestricted dollars. This is the first time in several years that this has happened,” said Williams. “Our alumni are to be congratulated for this achievement, and we intend to continue increasing it each year in the future. This year, alumni gifts totaled $1,911,522 or 35% of the total gifts received.”

Callisto F. Bell, a Fisk alumna, bequeathed Fisk an unrestricted gift of $245,719.05, which was received on the last day for counting FY 2013 gifts.

“It was the gift that made the difference” said Williams.

Ms. Bell’s family moved to Nashville when she was very young, and she attended Nashville Public Schools, graduating as class valedictorian from Pearl High School. She graduated from Fisk cum laude, with an A.B. degree, in 1933. She also earned her M.A. degree at Fisk. She completed further graduate studies at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, the University of Ohio, North Carolina College for Negroes, and N.D.E.A. at Purdue University.

Ms. Bell taught Spanish for 37 years in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, and also served as an adjunct instructor in Spanish at Fisk. Bell was a Golden Life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a Life member of the General Alumni Association of Fisk University, and a member of the Fisk University Legacy Society. She was a devoted member of Howard Congregational (UCC) Church.

The university will honor Bell, a recipient of the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award, during the upcoming academic year.

Another indicator of Fisk’s strengthened position is evidenced by Forbes magazine’s recent released of its 650 Top Colleges’ rankings, with Fisk University ranking #188, making it the fourth highest ranked institution in Tennessee. That places Fisk ahead of the University of Tennessee, Belmont University, Christian Brothers University, East Tennessee State University and Tennessee State University in the Forbes rankings.

Fisk ranked #134 among all private institutions, and a healthy #34 among all institutions in the South, making Fisk the highest ranked historically black college/university on the list.

“The Fisk brand of academic excellence continues to be validated by these rankings,” said President Williams. “We are delighted with this good news, which comes just after our announcement that we ended fiscal year 2013 in the black.”

The Forbes list of 650 schools distinguishes itself from competitors by its focus on ‘output’ over ‘input.’ The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), in conjunction with Forbes, compiles the college rankings using five categories: Student Satisfaction, Post-Graduate Success, Student Debt, Four-year Graduation Rate, and Academic Success.