Another Untimely Departure: Fisk University President's Abrupt Resignation Springs Yet Another Leadership Crisis for the HBCU

By Hefner, David | Black Issues in Higher Education, November 20, 2003 | Go to article overview

Another Untimely Departure: Fisk University President's Abrupt Resignation Springs Yet Another Leadership Crisis for the HBCU


Hefner, David, Black Issues in Higher Education


NASHVILLE, TENN.

It's deja vu all over again at Fisk University with the untimely departure of another president who is leaving behind a financially depressed school with no stability at the helm and no assurances in sight.

Last month's resignation of former President Carolynn Reid-Wallace, who served a two-year stint, marks the university's fourth president or interim president in the last seven years (see Black Issues, Nov. 6). The only thing that seemed to stun local alumni more than her resignation was the board of trustees' timing in announcing it: the same day the school's newly renovated administration building was being publicly showcased during the weekend leading up to Jubilee Day, the most historically significant day on the school's calendar.

The unexpected news turned a weekend that was supposed to be filled with pride and promise into one ambushed by uncertainty.

"No one in their right mind ... would plan (to announce) anything like this around this time," says Fisk University alumna DeVonie Cunning, 23. "It goes to show that it was an impulse thing. It was something that happened at the spur of the moment because of something that happened at a meeting or whatever."

Cunning doesn't know what led to Reid-Wallace's resignation. For that matter, not many Fisk loyalists do. Many believe, as Cunning does, that her exit was the result of a feud between her and the trustees. Some believe she left for personal reasons.

"We don't know if it was caused by financial problems or if she just decided on her own that it was time to move on," says student Ashley Barnett, 18. "No one really knows and they're not telling us everything we need to know."

The "they" Barnett is referring to are the university's trustees, who are increasingly becoming the object of concern to many Fiskites. Fair or not, many alumni and students are starting to suggest that the university's woes are not due to the failure of individual presidents but rather the board that hires them.

In fact, three former board members have publicly voiced their concerns about the board urging it to re-examine itself before hiring another president.

One former trustee, Del Glover, who resigned a week after Reid-Wallace stepped down, was quoted as saying the board needed to examine "why Fisk continues to have a succession of presidents. Not all of them could have been poor choices."

For her part, Reid-Wallace left quietly, deviating from the publicity-driven way she reined as president, frequently thrusting Fisk into the media spotlight with bold ideas of a new, racially diverse institution.

Instead of fanfare, Reid-Wallace submitted her letter of resignation on Oct. 2, it was accepted by the board of trustees on Oct. 3, and she said the next day during a press conference that she was leaving Fisk because she had accomplished what she came there to accomplish. She has refused to give further interviews.

"The school was going in a good direction when she was here," Barnett says. "I think she would have kept it going in a good direction. Her leaving hurt a lot of students' feelings. A lot of students were depending on her.... She didn't even come to tell us she resigned."

The board of trustees adamantly denies that a feud existed between them and Reid-Wallace. The board chairman, Reynaldo Glover, a Chicago lawyer and 1965 Fisk graduate, admits that some trustees, including himself, did not always see eye to eye with Reid-Wallace. But he rejects the notion that a riff drove the former president away or that she was being micromanaged.

"The notion that the board forced her out, that's just not true," Glover says, adding, "I don't know what micromanaging means. Collectively, this board (demonstrated) its support of Dr. Reid-Wallace by spending close to half of its liquid endowment to follow her vision and giving her the power to hire and fire. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Another Untimely Departure: Fisk University President's Abrupt Resignation Springs Yet Another Leadership Crisis for the HBCU
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.