World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Fisk University

Article Id: WHEBN0000189946
Reproduction Date:

Title: Fisk University  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Hazel R. O'Leary, W. E. B. Du Bois, John Wesley Work III, Aaron Douglas
Collection: 1866 Establishments in Tennessee, American Missionary Association, Council of Independent Colleges, Educational Institutions Established in 1866, Fisk University, Historic Districts in Tennessee, Historically Black Universities and Colleges in the United States, National Register of Historic Places in Tennessee, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Presidents of Fisk University, Private Universities and Colleges in Tennessee, Universities and Colleges Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Universities and Colleges in Nashville, Tennessee
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Fisk University

Fisk University
Former names
The Fisk Freed Colored School
Motto Her sons and daughters are forever on the altar[1]
Established 1866
Type Private, HBCU
Affiliation United Church of Christ (historically related)
Chairman Robert W. Norton
President Frank L. Sims (interim president) [2]
Provost Rodney S. Hanley
Academic staff
Students 800
Location Nashville, Tennessee,

Campus Urban, 40 acres (16 ha)
Colors Gold and Blue
Athletics NAIAindependent
(previously GCAC)
Nickname Bulldogs
Mascot The Fisk Bulldog
Affiliations UNCF

Fisk University is a historically black university founded in 1866 in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. The 40-acre (160,000 m2) campus is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1930, Fisk was the first African-American institution to gain accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Accreditations for specialized programs quickly followed.


  • History 1
  • Campus 2
  • Music, art, and literature collections 3
    • Alfred Stieglitz Collection 3.1
  • Science programs 4
  • Ranking 5
  • Athletics 6
  • Notable alumni 7
  • Notable faculty 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


University namesake Clinton B. Fisk
A class c. 1900

In 1866, six months after the end of the Clinton B. Fisk of the Tennessee Freedmen's Bureau, who made unused barracks available to the school, as well as establishing the first free schools for white and black children in Tennessee. In addition, he endowed Fisk with a total of $30,000.[3] The American Missionary Association's work was supported by the United Church of Christ, which retains an affiliation with the university.[4] Fisk opened to classes on January 9, 1866.[5]

With Tennessee's passage of legislation to support public education, leaders saw a need for training teachers, and Fisk University was incorporated as a

  • Official website
  • Official athletics website

External links

  1. ^ "Welcome". Fisk Memorial Chapel. Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Tamburin, Adam (2015-09-21). "Fisk University president resigns". The Tennessean. 
  3. ^ Mitchell, Reavis L., Jr., Clinton Bowen Fisk, The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2002, accessed 8 July 2012
  4. ^ "History of Fisk". Fisk University. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Mitchell, Reavis L., Jr., Fisk University, The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2002, accessed 3 Mar 2009
  6. ^ Biographical note: Adam Knight Spence, Spence Family Collection, Fisk University Library, accessed 3 Mar 2009. Link via webarchive accessed 15 August 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Fisk University",
  8. ^ Christopher L. Nicholson, “To Advance a Race: A Historical Analysis of the Personal Belief, Industrial Philanthropy and Black Liberal Arts Higher Education in Fayette McKenzie’s Presidency at Fisk University, 1915–1925”, Loyola University, Chicago, May 2011, p.299-301, 315–318.
  9. ^ "Fisk University Struggles Through Financial Crisis", NPR, September 16, 2010
  10. ^ "President", Fisk University webpage. Retrieved 2013-07-29
  11. ^ Phillips, Betsy, "H. James Williams Named New President of Fisk University", Nashville Scene, December 7, 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  12. ^ Tamburin, Adam (September 21, 2015). "Fisk University president resigns". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  13. ^ a b Schelzig, Erik (2007-12-28). "Fisk U. struggles to sell art". USA Today. Associated Press.  Alternate AP title: "Search for cash turns into battle over art for Fisk University".
  14. ^ Kennedy, Randy (11 October 2010). "Fisk University in New Bid to Gain Approval to Sell Art".  
  15. ^  
  16. ^ Rosenbaum, Lee (CultureGrrl), "News Flash: Court Order to Send Fisk’s Stieglitz Collection to Crystal Bridges in Fall 2013", Arts Journal blog, August 2, 2012.
  17. ^ Allyn, Bobby (4 August 2012). "Fisk finalizes deal to sell half-stake of Alfred Stieglitz collection in end to long fight, half-stake sold to Arkansas museum".  
  18. ^ RESOLUTION NO. RS2008-188: A resolution to recognize and declare Fisk University Day in Nashville, Tennessee on March 19, 2008, Nashville Metropolitan Council, accessed 3 Mar 2009
  19. ^ Parade's College "A" List: Combined Bachelor's/Graduate Degree: Fisk University, Parade, accessed 8 July 2012
  20. ^ Princeton Review Best Colleges
  21. ^ NAIA Member Schools, NAIA webpage. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  22. ^ GCAC Members, GCAC webpage. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  23. ^ Carter, Tomeiko Ashford, editor (2010). Virginia Broughton: The Life and Writings of a Missionary, The University of Tennessee Press, page xxxix. ISBN 978-1572336964
  24. ^ "Biographies". Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  25. ^ "Project MUSE - Virginia Broughton". Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  26. ^ Vanderbilt University bio. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  27. ^ Bass, Holly (March–April 2006). "Camille Akeju: New Director Seeks to Rejuvenate Anacostia Museum". Crisis: 37–39. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 


Name Department Notability Reference
Camille Akeju Art Art historian & museum administrator [27]
Arna Bontemps Librarian Head Librarian; Harlem Renaissance Poet
Robert Hayden United States Poet Laureate 1976–1978
Charles Spurgeon Johnson President First African American President of Fisk University
Fayette Avery McKenzie President Fourth President of Fisk University
Thomas Elsa Jones President Fifth President of Fisk University
Percy Lavon Julian Chemistry first African-American Chemist and second African-American from any field to become a member of the National Academy of Sciences
Lee Lorch Mathematics mathematician and civil rights activist. Fired in 1955 for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Hon. Hazel O'Leary President former U.S. Secretary of Energy
John Oliver Killens Writer in Residence Two-time Pulitzer Prize Nominee
Nikki Giovanni English author, poet, activist
James Weldon Johnson Literature author, poet and civil rights activist, author of Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing, known as the "Negro National Anthem"
John W. Work III Music Choir Director, Ethnomusicologist and scholar of Afro-American folk music
Aaron Douglas Art painter, illustrator, muralist
Robert E. Park Sociology sociologist of the Chicago School

Notable faculty

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Dr. John Angelo Lester 1895 Professor Emeritus of Physiology, Meharry Medical College
Lil Hardin Armstrong 1915 jazz pianist/composer, second wife of Louis Armstrong
Constance Baker Motley 1941–1942 first African-American woman elected to the New York State Senate
Marion Barry 1960 former mayor of Washington, D.C.
Mary Frances Berry former Chair, United States Commission on Civil Rights; former Chancellor University of Colorado at Boulder
John Betsch 1967 Jazz percusionist
Joyce Bolden first African-American woman to serve on the Commission for Accreditation of the National Association of Schools of Music
Otis Boykin 1942 Inventor, control device for the heart pacemaker
St. Elmo Brady first African American to earn a doctorate in Chemistry
Virginia E. Walker Broughton 1875, 1878 Author and Baptist missionary [23][24][25]
Cora Brown first African-American woman elected to a state senate
Gregory "DJ GB" Byers 2013 DJ, Producer
Henry Alvin Cameron 1896 Educator, decorated World War I veteran
J.O. Patterson, Jr. 1958 First African American to occupy the office of Mayor of Memphis. Tennessee State Representative, State Senator, Memphis Councilman, Jurisdictional Bishop in the Church of God in Christ
Elizabeth Hortense (Golden) Canady past national president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority
Alfred O. Coffin first African American to earn a doctorate in zoology
Malia Cohen 2001 San Francisco District 10 Supervisor 2010 – Present
Johnnetta B. Cole anthropologist, former President of Spelman College and Bennett College
William L. Dawson (politician) 1909 U.S. Congressman (1943–1970)
Arthur Cunningham 1951 Musical Composer, studied at Juilliard and Columbia University
Charles Diggs United States House of Representatives Michigan (1955–1980)
Mahala Ashley Dickerson 1935 first black female attorney in the state of Alabama and first black president of the National Association of Women Lawyers
Rel Dowdell 1993 acclaimed filmmaker
W. E. B. Du Bois 1888 sociologist, scholar, first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard
Venida Evans 1969 Actress, best known for Ikea commercials
Etta Zuber Falconer 1953 first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics; former Chair, mathematics department at Spelman College
John Hope Franklin 1935 historian, professor, scholar, author of landmark text From Slavery to Freedom
Victor O. Frazer United States House of Representatives (1995–1997)
Alonzo Fulgham former acting chief and operating officer of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Nikki Giovanni 1967 poet, author, professor, scholar
Louis George Gregory posthumously, a Hand of the Cause in Bahá'í Faith
Eliza Ann Grier 1891 first African-American female physician in Georgia
Kevin Hales Professor, Africologist, Fulbright Scholar, NEH Scholar, Teaching Excellence Professor (Scholar of global African culture)
Alcee Hastings U.S. Congressman and former U.S. district court judge
Roland Hayes concert singer
Perry Wilbon Howard Assistant U.S. Attorney General under President Herbert Hoover
Elmer Imes 1903 Renowned Physicist and Second African-American to earn a Ph.D in Physics
Esther Cooper Jackson 1940 Founding editor of Freedomways Journal
Leonard Jackson (actor) 1952 Actor, Five on the Black Hand Side; The Color Purple
Robert James former NFL cornerback
Judith Jamison Pioneering Dancer and Choreographer; former artistic Director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Ted Jarrett R&B recording artist and producer
Dr. Charles Jeter 1971 father of Derek Jeter
Ben Jobe 1956 Legendary basketball coach, Southern University
Lewis Wade Jones 1931 Sociologist; Julius Rosenwald Foundation Fellow at Columbia University
Ella Mae Johnson 1921 at age 105 years old, Ella Mae Johnson traveled to Washington, DC to attend the inauguration of Barack Obama
Matthew Knowles 1973 Father and manager of Beyoncé Knowles
Nella Larsen 1908 Novelist, Harlem Renaissance era
Julius Lester 1960 Author of children's books and former professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
David Levering Lewis Two-time Pulitzer Prize Winner
John Lewis Congressman, civil rights activist, former President of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Jimmie Lunceford 1925 famous bandleader in the swing era
Aubrey Lyles 1903 Vaudville performer
E.M. Lysonge 1998 Former SGA President. Currently serves as Vice President, Legal Affairs at Churchill Downs Incorporated
Mandisa 2001 Grammy and Dove Award-nominated Christian contemporary singer/songwriter, ninth-place finalist in the fifth season (2006) of American Idol
Patti J. Malone 1880 Fisk Jubilee Singer
Louis E. Martin 1933 Godfather of Black Politics
Wade H. McCree 1941 Second African-American United States Solicitor General; Justice, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Samuel A. McElwee 1883 State Senator during the Reconstruction Era and the first African American elected three times to the Tennessee General Assembly
Robert McFerrin first African American male to sing at the Metropolitan Opera and father of Bobby McFerrin
Leslie Meek 1987 Administrative Law Judge, wife of Congressman Kendrick Meek
Ronald E. Mickens Physicist, winner of the Edward Bouchet Award
Theo Mitchell 1960 Senator, South Carolina General Assembly
Undine Smith Moore first Fisk graduate to receive a scholarship to Juilliard, Pulitzer Prize Nominee
Diane Nash founding member of SNCC
Rachel B. Noel Politician; first African-American to serve on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education
Hon. Hazel O'Leary former U.S. Secretary of Energy
Lucius T. Outlaw, Jr. Philosophy professor at Vanderbilt University[13][26]
Helen Phillips 1928 first African-American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Annette Lewis Phinazee 1939 first black woman to earn a doctorate in library sciences from Columbia University
Anita Ponder Partner, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLC; Super Lawyers (2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009)
Alma Powell wife of Gen. Colin Powell
Kay George Roberts orchestral conductor
Bradley T Sheares former CEO Reliant Pharmaceuticals; former President, H.H. Division, Merck & Co.
Martha Lynn Sherrod Presiding District Court Judge, first African American to win an at-large election in North Alabama since Reconstruction
Lorenzo Dow Turner 1910 Linguist and Chair, African Studies at Roosevelt University
A. Maceo Walker 1930 Businessman, Universal Life Insurance, Tri-State Bank
Ron Walters 1963 Scholar of African-American politics, Chair, Afro-American Studies Brandeis University
Margaret Murray Washington 1890 Lady Principal of Tuskegee Institute and third wife of Booker T. Washington
Ida B. Wells American civil rights activist and women's suffrage advocate
Charles H. Wesley 1911 President of Wilberforce University from 1942 to 1947, and President of Central State College from 1947–1965; third African-American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard
Kym Whitley actress, comedienne
Frederica Wilson 1963 U.S. Representative for Florida's 17th congressional district
Tom Wilson (producer) 1953 Music producer, best known for his work with Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa
Yetta Young 1991 First to produce all African-American celebrity cast of the Obie-Award winning play The Vagina Monologues. Actresses have included Academy Award Winner Mo'Nique and Academy Award Nominee Taraji P. Henson. She is the author of Butterfly Confessions.
Frank Yerby 1938 first African-American to publish a best-selling novel

Notable alumni

Fisk University teams, nicknamed athletically as the Bulldogs, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)[21] Division I level, primarily competing in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC).[22] Men's sports include basketball, cross country, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.


According to the Princeton Review, Fisk University is one of America's 373 Best Colleges & Universities.[20]

In 2010, the Washington Monthly ranked Fisk 29th among America's Best Liberal Arts Colleges. In 2011, CBS Money Watch ranked professors at Fisk University 19th out of 650 colleges and universities in the nation.

Fisk appears on Parade magazine's "A List" of colleges and universities that offer combined bachelor's and master's degree programs.[19]

Fisk University is one of four historically black colleges and universities to earn a tier-one ranking on the list of Best National Liberal Arts Colleges in the 2011 edition of Best Colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Of the 1,400 institutions ranked nationwide, only 246 institutions earned tier one status.


Fisk University has a strong record of academic excellence: it has graduated more African Americans who go on to earn PhDs in the natural sciences than any other institution.[18]

Science programs

In October 2010, a judge ruled that a 50% stake in the collection could be sold to Crystal Bridges if modifications to the contract were made so that the University could not lose its interest in the collection, nor could the joint venture holding ownership of the collection between the University and Crystal Bridges be based in Delaware (or outside Tennessee Courts jurisdiction). The modified agreement would allow the works to stay at the University until 2013 and then begin a two-year rotation with Crystal Bridges.[14] In April 2012, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision to allow the sale to move forward. A few months later on August 2, The Davidson County Chancery Court approved a Final Agreed Order that established joint ownership between the University and Crystal Bridges through the newly established Stieglitz Art Collection, LLC. The operating agreement required the University to set aside $3.9 million of the $30 million sale proceeds to be used to establish a fund used for the care and maintenance of the collection at the Van Vechten Gallery at the University.[15][16] The court dispute cost the University $5.8 million in legal fees.[17]

When this situation occurs a Court (County Chancery Court in Tennessee), may modify the application of the donor’s terms (in their execution); recognizing that, so long as the donor’s underlying intent continues to be satisfied to the maximum extent possible (as the goal); modifications to the explicit terms of the bequest may be made and found to be in order; and not violations of the terms of the bequest to the recipient.

While the AG’s suit continued to have standing, it had to be made consonant with the reality of the cy-près doctrine as that doctrine applied to the current and long-term financial situation of Fisk University. The doctrine, (which applies to charitable trusts, (e.g., Fisk University’s Stieglitz Collection) applies where the original particular purpose of the trust (or its explicit terms and conditions) have become impossible or impracticable (for the grantee to fulfill); and, where the terms of the trust itself, do not specify what is to happen, in such a situation.

In 2005, mounting financial difficulties led the University trustees to vote to sell two of the paintings, O'Keeffe's "Radiator Building" and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to earn money was being fought in court by the O'Keeffe Museum.[13] The O'Keeffe Museum's lawsuit failed on appeal, and was withdrawn. The Museum was found to not have standing (law) in a lawsuit, as O'Keeffe herself had formally renounced and surrendered her (and therefore her successors as well) interest as Life Tenant and Executrix of artworks thus gifted to the beneficiaries over fifty years earlier. Thus no residuary interest (for her estate) existed when she died.

In 1949, painter Alfred Stieglitz. She made an outright gift of two of her own paintings to the school. These are on permanent display at the University's Carl Van Vechten Galleries.

Alfred Stieglitz Collection

Fisk University is the home of a music literature collection founded by the noted Harlem Renaissance figure Carl Van Vechten.

Music, art, and literature collections

Jubilee Hall, which was recently restored, is the oldest and most distinctive structure of Victorian architecture on the 40 acre (160,000 m²) Fisk campus.

Fisk University Historic District
Location Roughly bounded by 16th and 18th Aves., Hermosa, Herman and Jefferson Sts.
Nashville, Tennessee
Architectural style Italianate; Queen Anne
Governing body Fisk University
NRHP Reference # 78002579
Added to NRHP February 9, 1978


H. James Williams, served as president from February 2013 to September 2015. Williams had previously been dean of the Seidman College of Business at Florida A&M and Texas Southern University.[10][11] Williams stepped down in September 2015.[12]

From 2004 to 2013, Fisk was directed by its 14th president, the Honorable Hazel O'Leary, former Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton. She was the second woman to serve as president of the university. On June 25, 2008, Fisk announced that it had successfully raised $4 million during the fiscal year ending June 30. It ended nine years of budget deficits and qualified for a Mellon Foundation challenge grant. However, Fisk still faced significant financial hardship, and claimed that it may need to close its doors unless its finances improve.[9]

In 1952, Fisk was the first predominantly black college to earn a Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society that December, the chapter inducted its first student members on April 4, 1953.

In 1947 Fisk heralded its first African-American president with the arrival of Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Johnson was a premier sociologist, a scholar who had been the editor of Opportunity magazine, a noted periodical of the Harlem Renaissance.

From 1915 to 1925, Fayette Avery McKenzie was President of Fisk. McKenzie's tenure, before and after World War I, was during a turbulent period in American history. In spite of many challenges, McKenzie developed Fisk as the premier all Black university in the United States, secured Fisk’s academic recognition as a standard college by the Carnegie Foundation, Columbia University and the University of Chicago, raised a $1 million endowment fund to ensure quality faculty and laid a foundation for Fisk’s accreditation and future success.[8]

During the 1880s Fisk had an active building program, as well as expanding its curriculum offerings. By the turn of the 20th century, it added black teachers and staff to the university, and a second generation of free blacks entered classes.[7]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.