Fisk President resigns as University begins Sesquicentennial Celebration

H. James Williams

H. James Williams, Ph.D.

On Monday, September 21, the Fisk University Board of Trustees announced that its President, James H. WIlliams, has resigned from the institution, effective immediately. While the University conducts a search for a new leader, Frank L. Sims will serve as the Interim President of Fisk University. The leadership transition period comes just as Fisk is preparing to observe its annual Jubilee Day observance on October 6. The historic institution, founded in 1866, is also in process of beginning its sesquicentennial celebration — 150 years of academic excellence and community leadership since its founding in 1866.

“We have accepted Dr. Williams’ resignation and thank him for his part in the advancements of Fisk in recent years,” said Barbara Landers Bowles, Chairperson of the Board. During his presidency, Fisk has reaffirmed its regional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); improved its retention rate; and has seen a 40 percent increase in enrollment to more than 850 students over the three years. Dr. Williams is pursuing other opportunities in higher education.

Frank L Sims, Interim President Fisk University

Frank L Sims, Interim President Fisk University

“We appreciate Frank Sims stepping in as interim president while a national search for a new president is conducted,” said Bowles. “We began this academic year – our 150th – in a position of strength, academically and financially. Our focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) continues to expand, along with our global educational partnerships. During the past fiscal year, we have raised over $5 million dollars and our alumni giving and private contributions continue to rise.”

The interim president, Frank L. Sims, is a highly regarded business executive and community leader and a member of the Fisk Board of Trustees for three years.

“It’s an exciting time to be at Fisk as we celebrate our 150th anniversary,” said Sims. “I am looking forward to spending time with our faculty, staff, students and others in the University community as we begin our historic sesquicentennial.”

Frank Sims spent his business career at Cargill Inc., serving in numerous capacities during his 36-year tenure, including as president of the company’s North American grain division and as a corporate vice president. He currently serves on the Board of South Jersey Industries, and is past Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Sims earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas. He and his wife, Robyn, a Fisk alumna, have three children Bradford, Leigh-Kirstin and Franklin, also a Fisk alumnus.

Fisk University begins its 150th Anniversary celebration with a Pre-Sesquicentennial event, the play “Lady Patriot” Friday, October 2, at 7 pm, Saturday at 3 pm & 7 pm, and Sunday at 4 pm; October 2-4, WFSK’s Jazzy 88 FM 10th Annual 48-Hour Radiothon; Tuesday, October 6, the Annual Jubilee Day Convocation celebrates the 144th Anniversary of Original Jubilee Singers’ Inaugural Tour; October 8 – 11, “The Meeting”, by Jeff Stetson Smith; October 9 – 10, HBCUStory Symposium, Dr. Crystal DeGregory; and November 8 – 15, 2015, Homecoming.