Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Moving in the Right Direction

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Moving in the Right Direction

Article excerpt

On July 1, Dr. Rosalind R. Fuse-Hall attained her dream 'of becoming president of Bennett College, a historically Black liberal arts college for women. About a decade ago, she tried but failed to become Bennett's CEO, but now Fuse-Hall declares she's ready to make her mark--leveraging her higher education relationships to give her students a leg up.

"Along my journey, I've worked with and have been mentored by some incredible presidents and chancellors," says Fuse-Hall, who succeeds President Esther Terry

As Bennett's 17th president, Bennett's budget deficit awaits, and Fuse-Hall intends to grow enrollment from 780 to "a comfortable 1,000" students. Fuse-Hall says Bennett, which she refers to as "a jewel" is small enough to see the immediate impact of her leadership on the lives of the young women there, known as Bennett Belles.

Growing up in Fayetteville, N.C., the actions of the strong women--mother, sisters and aunts--in Fuse-Hall's world "spoke volumes about the big things that we could do and achieve." In a household of educators and activists, Fuse-Hall and her siblings--three sisters and a brother--learned early that higher education was imperative, not an option. Her mother taught math for more than three decades in North Carolina public schools, and her brother and five aunts also made teaching their profession.

As a headstrong girl of the '70s and '80s, Fuse-Hall was determined to migrate from the only career path most in her family could travel while in the Segregated South. By then, she says, "I had developed a passion for doing anything that I wanted to do" One of them was pursuing law, not education, to uplift her people. But that decision only proved to be a detour. Like her father, who taught math at both Fayetteville State University and at Saint Augustine's University, higher education ultimately became her life's work.

In 1976, Fuse-Hall marched proudly from an integrated high school and onto the predominantly White campus of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She entered with one of the largest groups of Black undergraduates the university had enrolled. After graduating with a degree in criminal justice in 1980, Fuse-Hall sprinted to Rutgers University School of Law, but not "to be a traditional lawyer. …

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