Greetings Fiskites and Friends of Fisk,
It has been two months since I took office and what a fantastic two months it has been! Classes are underway and our campus is brimming with energy and activity. Student leadership has been highly engaged and is approaching the semester with a gusto and strategy to enhance the student experience. It appears the 2017-2018 academic year is off to a great start.
At the beginning of the month, I participated in many activities and programs intended to acclimate new students and refocus our faculty and staff. The week of July 31 brought a flurry of activity to campus as freshman orientation began and faculty reported to campus. On Friday, August 4, I delivered my inaugural State of the University address to the faculty and staff. The next day, our staff and senior leadership assisted students during campus move-in. The parting ceremony in the Fisk Memorial Chapel was a poignant conclusion to a week of firsts for students, parents, and myself.
On August 17, the Opening Convocation marked the beginning of the academic year. I want to congratulate Tanya Torres on her historic designation as the first Latina Student Government Association (SGA) President. Tanya Torres and Gregory Dendy, SGA Vice President, were both officially sworn in during the ceremony.
Many meetings were scheduled this month with community leaders and supporters of Fisk with the goal of strengthening some relationships and establishing others. We met with leadership from the Nashville Chamber, U.S. Representative Jim Cooper, Dr. Joseph Webb of Nashville General Hospital, District 58 Representative Harold Love, Jim Harbison of Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, and John Ingram of Ingram Content Group, to name a few. Each meeting was informative and provided much-needed feedback from our community leaders as we begin to propel Fisk to new heights.
On August 21, we hosted a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party on campus. The university paused for a mid-day observance of the rare celestial event. We offered food, seating, music, Solar Eclipse glasses, and a moderated chronicle of events provided by Dr. Kent Wallace to students, faculty, staff, family, and friends of Fisk. Some visitors even traveled from out-of-state to join us for the viewing party. Thank you to everyone who concerted to bring the event to fruition. It was a success and everyone enjoyed themselves.
On August 22, Fisk University and the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Public Charter Schools hosted an official signing ceremony to finalize a partnership that will provide three to five annual scholarships to qualified students at KIPP. This partnership furthers the mission of Fisk by offering opportunities for students from underserved populations. Over the years, many KIPP students have attended Fisk and we look forward to broadening that pipeline.
I have begun to host cross-functional meetings focused on enrollment management and recruiting. The goal is to chart the student life cycle from first contact to full enrollment, to identify which processes are causing the most friction for our students. I have met with our Admissions and Recruitment team to provide feedback on how we are attracting and actively recruiting students. Furthermore, I met the offices which interface with students once they are admitted to dissect the experience. The collaborative meetings will begin to address processes which could reduce the stress around the beginning of semesters for all involved.
In closing, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the retirement of Ingrid Frazier Collier, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management. Mrs. Collier has been a stalwart of the university community for a number of years and she officially retired at the conclusion of August. We thank Mrs. Collier for her many years of service and her indelible impact on many students’ lives.
We exist for our students and our community; cultivating scholars and leaders one by one.