Dr. Vann R. Newkirk steps down as President of Fisk University

Nashville, TENN. (TN Tribune) – The Board of Trustees of Fisk University today announced the departure of Dr. Vann R. Newkirk as President of the University. Effective immediately, Board Chair Frank L. Sims will serve as acting President.

“The Board of Trustees is charged with ensuring that Fisk University continue to excel as a leading academic institution and that our future is defined by a shared vision and set of values,” said Chair Sims. “ The Board unanimously agreed that the next chapter in the Fisk future calls for new leadership. We thank Dr. Newkirk for his service and wish him well in his future endeavors. We look forward to conducting a thorough and extensive search process for our next President.“

Frank L. Sims

Mr. Sims has long been a valued member of the community and a trusted advisor to Fisk. He retired in 2008 from Cargill, Inc. where he led major strategic business segments both in the United States and internationally. He brings experience and stability to his new position, having previously served as Interim President of the University from 2015-2017.

Nashville’s oldest institution of higher learning, Fisk University has experienced a remarkable upswing over the last six years. Since 2016/17, it has seen unprecedented growth in several key areas resulting in four consecutive years of operational surpluses. The most notable results include:

· Five consecutive years of fundraising records (2017-2022) With the largest totals in 2019/20 and 2020/21 combining for over $30,000,000.

· Four consecutive years of enrollment growth with an almost 40% increase. Fisk’s current enrollment is 1,050 up from 628 in the last five years.

· A significant increase in the overall endowment.

Fisk’s transformation of the past six years is built upon the tremendous increases in fundraising and enrollment that have provided unprecedented resources for improvement. These results are all part of a clear vision designed by and reflected in board leadership and carried out through a variety of outstanding teams and institutional areas.

The deep relationships, amazing partnerships, and excellent student outcomes that are now garnering national attention are thanks to the long-term dedication and work of many, and the University looks forward to continuing this momentum under new leadership.

Fisk board member Juliette Pryor (’86) is the new chair of the Board of Trustees, and board member JoLinda Herring (’85) will chair the national search committee for the next President of the university.

“The Board remains deeply committed to the approach that has brought Fisk to this point and will now continue to reach for an even brighter future,” said Juliette Pryor (’86). “In order for Fisk to continue the current trajectory of once again becoming a leader in the higher education space will require a commitment to reach farther and deliver a bolder proposition than ever before. The current educational climate is immensely competitive, and Fisk is poised to take on that challenge.”