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« Skype & Motorola Meet Up | Main | Lost in translation - Is This What They Call 'Legalese'?? »

15 February 2005

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Ken West

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Contact: Ken West, Director of Communications and Public Relations


Fisk University

1000 Seventeenth Ave. North

Nashville, Tennessee 37208

Phone: 615.329.8767

Email: kwest@fisk.edu


Fisk President Says 'No Thanks' to Inauguration, Allots Funds to Scholarships for Students


Nashville - Former Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary, President of Fisk University, founded in 1866, made it official yesterday; there will be no inauguration for her, the school's 14th president. O'Leary's decision represents a break in the school's 103-year-old ritual of honoring new presidents with a substantial welcome by members of the Fisk and national communities. In addition, $100,000, originally allocated to the proposed inauguration will go to student scholarships.

In a letter released from her office yesterday, O'Leary explained the reason for the departure from tradition. After dialogue with members of Fisk's Board of Trustees, O'Leary decided that, in lieu of an inauguration, her installment will be combined with the annual celebration of Jubilee Day, the commemoration of the beginning of the 1871 world tour of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, celebrated on October 6th. Proceeds from the Singers' performances of spiritual songs paid for the purchase of the 42 acre Nashville campus and the construction of Jubilee Hall, the first permanent building in America used for the education of African Americans.

"Rather than expend the estimated minimum $100,000 cost, those funds will be allocated for student scholarships and grant in aid this fall. While tradition is important, it should never trump the needs of our students."

There is an historical precedent for O'Leary's negation of her inauguration.
Fisk's first president, Erastus Milo Cravath, declined to have an inauguration during the establishment of Fisk as a university 130 years ago.
Cravath opted to use the new school's funds for the building of a physical plant.

"On October 6th I extend an invitation to members of the Fisk family and leaders of the Middle Tennessee community to come to Fisk to engage our student groups and tour our campus," O'Leary says. The city of Nashville and Fisk have such a longstanding interdependence and we will take the time to nurture that relationship."

Fisk, the university that produces more African-American students who go on to earn Ph.D. degrees than any other institution in the nation, also has a twenty-year deferred maintenance program for some of its buildings. Leaders of the school have completed a strategic plan to address that and other operational issues.

"The young people and parents whom we serve are getting the message," says Chairman Reynaldo P. Glover of the school's Board of Trustees. "This is a president who clearly understands how to run a business and who, in a very short time, has made accountability the rule, not the exception.
Applications are up nearly 300% going into this semester, we have surpassed our fundraising goal of $3.5 million. In the area of the sciences we have grant awards for the 2004 fiscal year of $7.4 million and, in addition to that, we're going to have the largest entering class of new students in recent memory this month."

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ELWOOD

WE ALL HAVE TO DO WHATEVER WE CAN IN OUR SMALL WAY TO ADVANCE THE ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND SOCIAL STATUS OF BLACK AMERICANS. MY SPECIAL EFFORT HAS BEEN IN THE AREA OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND THE SUPPORT OF BLACK BUSINESS. I FIND GREAT IRONY THAT MOST OF OUR BLACK CHURCHES TALK ABOUT HELPING BLACK BUSINESSES BUT ON THE OCCASION OF EASTER AND CHRISTMAS THEY ALWAYS FIND A WAY TO ENRICH THE WHITE ESTABLISHMENT BY PURCHASING THEIR FLOWERS FROM THE WHITE FLORIST. I CHALLENGE ALL BLACK CHURCH GOWERS TO QUESTION YOUR CHURCH'S PURCHASING POLICIES TODAY. WHERE ARE YOU PURCHASING YOUR EASTER LILLIES?

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