Fisk University Board of Trustees Announces Retirement of President Hazel R. O'Leary
2/17/2012 6:02:05 PM
Nashville, Tenn. – February 17, 2012 – Fisk University President Hazel R. O’Leary informed the Board of Trustees yesterday that she will retire at the end of this year. O’Leary graduated from Fisk in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in history and economics before earning a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree in 1966 from Rutgers University Law School. She has served as president of the Historically Black University since her appointment in August of 2004. Before joining Fisk, O’Leary served as Secretary of Energy during President William J Clinton’s first administration, was chief operating officer of an African-American investment firm and held senior corporate positions in the energy sector.
O’Leary indicated that the December 2012 date will allow the University to complete its 2012 audit and submit the Fourth Monitoring Report required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which is due in early September. Thereafter, Fisk’s senior leaders, along with a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, must represent Fisk at a meeting of SACSCOC Trustees in Dallas, Texas in early December to resolve to any open issues.
Robert W. Norton, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, noted Fisk’s good fortune in having Hazel O’Leary return to her alma mater and said, “President O'Leary stands as one of the most accomplished American women of her generation. She served at Fisk during a difficult time in its history including cuts in student loans, a tightening of credit markets and a decline in new student enrollment. For eight years she has brought the needed vision, leadership and stability to enhance Fisk’s position as a highly ranked liberal arts university.”
O’Leary said “Our work with the board, students, faculty, staff, and alumni to transform and grow Fisk using a metric based Strategic Plan has been rewarding. On a personal note, I am grateful to the Board for its advice, policy guidance, and resolve to measure outcomes, as well as, its deep commitment to Fisk during my tenure. Each member of the Fisk Family has contributed to our relentless quest for measurable improvement in our academic and student support programs. Our drive for continuous improvement has been daunted by our failure to increase new student enrollment during the economic downturn. In spite of that challenge, the public record indicates that Fisk has achieved top tier performance among liberal arts institutions in academics, student retention and engagement. While much remains to be done, I am confident that Fisk, the institution I love and have led these past eight years, is in better shape than when I arrived, and it will continue to enjoy a long and distinguished legacy.”
P. Andrew Patterson, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, said the board “agreed wholeheartedly” with O’Leary’s assessment and that the Committee will initiate a search immediately to ensure a smooth transition.
Accomplishments at Fisk during O’Leary’s tenure include:
- Research – Fisk increased research grant funding from approximately $3,739,721 in FY 2007 to a total of $63,631,252 from FY 2008-2012 to date. Fisk ranks in the 77th percentile of all institutions in the United States receiving federal science and engineering research funds.
- International Research Awards – Fisk received its 3rd R&D 100 Award in 2010 for its radiation detection technology. These awards identify the 100 most significant, newly introduced research and development advances in multiple disciplines annually. Winning an R&D 100 Award provides a mark of excellence known to industry, government, and academia as proof that the product is one of the most innovative ideas of the year nationally and internationally. Fisk is the only HBCU ever to receive an R&D 100 Award.
- Fundraising – Fisk averaged over $5 million in donations annually over the last 5 years, which exceeds by 45% the $3.1 million national annual average by HBCUs.
- Retention - Fisk invested federal funding for a University-wide retention program and in student learning centers in each residence hall, resulting in an improved student retention rate of 77%. At the same time, the six year graduation rate increased from 47% in August of 2010, the start of the initiative, to 53% in February of 2012.
- Building Renovations and Restorations – With judicious use of federal funding, Fisk restored The John W. Work Home and renovated the following buildings: Carl van Vechten Gallery, Jubilee Hall first floor, Harris Music Building, and the Talley-Brady Science Building.
- Athletics & Recreation – Fisk’s ten (10) NAIA Varsity Sports in 2011 is up from three (3) in 2007, our first year in the NAIA.
- Internship and Job Placement - Increased student internship placements by 61% in 2010-2011 (n=71) from previous year 2009-2010 (n=44).
- Graduate and Professional School Placement - In 2011, 46 % of Fisk students were accepted in graduate and professional programs; this is 23% above the national average reported by the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE).
- Crime Statistics - Fisk’s Clery 2011 Reportable Crime Total of 3 incidents equals .46 crimes per 100 students which is less than Howard (.50) and Morehouse (1.19). Fisk’s .46 crime rate is also less than that of Meharry Medical College, Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University.
- Community Service Programs - Fisk's presidential and tuition scholarship students, student athletes, members of Greek letter organizations, and other student clubs complete over 8600 community service hours annually through tutorial and mentorship programs in addition to their organizational philanthropies. This is compared to 4000 service hours completed annually prior to 2004.
For more information, please contact the Office of Communications and Public Relations at 615-329-8767.
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About Fisk University
Founded in 1866, Fisk University is Nashville’s first institution of higher education and it currently ranks in the top 10% of all liberal arts institutions in the nation according to Washington Monthly. Fisk is one of six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) listed in Forbes magazine’s 2011 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” listed #135 of 650 institutions, and has been ranked in The Princeton Review’s “Best 373 Colleges” publication for twenty consecutive years. CBS Money Watch ranked Fisk university professors as the 19th best of 650 colleges and universities in the nation for 2011. U.S. News and World Report ranks Fisk #144 in the elite Tier One group of 246 liberal arts institutions selected for the distinction among the 1,400 colleges and universities in the nation and Fisk is one of only three HBCUs ranked in Tier One. Fisk has earned three R & D 100 Awards for work in the creation of radiation detectors developed in collaboration with several national laboratories and corporations. No other HBCU has earned a R & D 100 Award. According to the National Science Foundation, Fisk produces more African-Americans who go on to earn doctoral degrees in the natural sciences than any school in the nation. For more information on Fisk University, please visit www.fisk.edu.