Fisk — 06 December 2012
Fisk University Appoints 15th President

Nashville, Tenn. – December 5, 2012 – The Board of Trustees of Fisk University met in special session on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 and unanimously elected Dr. H. James Williams to be the University’s 15th President. Dr. Williams is currently the Dean of the Seidman College of Business and Professor of Accounting at Grand Valley State University. He will assume his duties on February 1, 2013 and President O’Leary has agreed to delay her retirement to ensure a smooth transition.

Vice Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Presidential Search Committee, P. Andrew Patterson, said “Dr. Williams was selected after a rigorous national search. The Committee sought advice from a wide range of constituents and was supported by Diversified Search, an international executive search firm. The Board made an inspired selection. Dr. Williams has shown strong leadership, steadfast integrity and creativity in fundraising for scholarships, academic programs and buildings in partnership with corporate leaders, faculty and alumni.”

Dr. Williams earned a B.S. Degree in Accounting at North Carolina Central University, a M.B.A. Degree in Accounting at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a Ph.D. Degree in Accounting at the University of Georgia – Athens, and J.D. and LL.M. (Taxation) Degrees at Georgetown University Law Center. Dr. Williams is also a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant with a wealth of practical experiences in the public accounting profession and in the legal profession as a corporate and tax attorney.

“Our task was to identify the next leader of Fisk who embodies the values, skills, intellect, and proven business and academic leadership needed to accelerate the progress made over the last eight years. I am delighted that in Dr. H. James Williams we have found such a leader. His breadth and depth of experience, multi-disciplined approach to teaching and research and unwavering commitment to the intellectual growth of students, as well as, community outreach, positions Dr. Williams to lead Fisk at this critical time in its history,” said Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Robert W. Norton.

President Hazel R. O’Leary stated that “Dr. Williams is the right person for the job. He exhibits high energy, intellect, and a proven ability for fundraising. He is committed to Fisk and is well positioned to work successfully with the business and academic communities in Nashville and the nation.”

Dr. Williams is married to Carole Campbell Williams of Flint, Michigan. The Williamses have a twenty-two-year-old daughter and an eighteen-year-old son. “I am honored to have been offered the opportunity to lead Fisk University. My wife, Carole, and I look forward to moving to Nashville and working with the community. We believe in the University ─ both its past and its future. I am anxious to work with the Fisk family and its many constituents to chart an exciting future for Fisk,” said Dr. Williams.


About Fisk University
Founded in 1866, Fisk University is Nashville’s first institution of higher education and currently ranks in the top 10% of all liberal arts institutions in the nation and “#1 Liberal Arts HBCU in Research” according to Washington Monthly which also ranks Fisk in the top 6% of the 254 leading liberal arts institutions based on social mobility, research and service. Fisk ranked in the top 20 percent of 650 higher education institutions and is the highest ranked HBCU on Forbes’ “2012 Top Colleges List.” The Princeton Review’s “Best Southeastern Colleges” publication has included Fisk in its rankings for twenty consecutive years. U.S. News and World Report list Fisk at #145 in the elite Tier One group of 1,400 liberal arts institutions and #5 on the list of “The Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).” 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


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