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

NASHVILLE, TN — Dr. Vann Newkirk, a well respected educator with  more than 30 years creating innovative educational programs at Black institutions in the South. His  leadership is well known Nationally and some of his most recent notable achievements at Fisk include:

– Led the successful June 2020 on-site special committee visit by SACSCOC

– Guided Fisk’s COVID-19 response and school re-opening plan for fall 2020 semester

– Launched the Fisk Learning and Development Program (FLDP), a training and development platform for faculty and staff

– Successfully transitioned to a hybrid virtual campus by facilitating remote access through specialized software  

– Established Fisk University Clarksville

“Dr. Newkirk has made tremendous contributions as provost and we look forward to his continued leadership,” said Board Chair Frank Sims. “Fisk has experienced several outstanding years and we are convinced the next few years will be the best in the University’s esteemed history.”

Fisk has seen many successes over the years. In just the past two years it has

– Increased enrollment by more than 32 percent

– ACT/SAT scores for incoming freshmen have improved from the 55th percentile to the 73rd percentile nationally.

– Produced two Rhodes Scholar finalists

– Launched multiple new academic programs

– Increased corporate internships by 41%

– Grown academic grants to over $8,500,000 for this past year

– Raised over $21,500,000 including an increase in endowment.

Dr. Vann Newkirk has a 30-year career in creating innovative educational programs, in building and managing off-campus degree programs, and in the administration of institutional research and effectiveness. He has worked with organizations such as the SACS Consulting Network, the Capacity Building Institute of the UNCF, and the Patterson Research Institute. In these roles he led more than a dozen colleges and universities through initial accreditation or through reaffirmation. Newkirk also played important roles in improving institutional efficiency and in resource husbandry at institutions across the Southeastern United States. These efforts have required consensus building within the institutions, inside institutional governing boards, and with state coordinating agencies. Newkirk’s experiences have allowed him to build and maintain relationships with a wide variety of constituencies on all levels.

A noted historian, Newkirk has written extensively on crime and punishment in the state of North Carolina. He is the author of the ground-breaking study, Lynching in North Carolina (2008), which won the Willie Parker Peace History Award, in 2009. Other recent publications, by Newkirk, include “That Spirit Must be Broken: The Mutilation of Joseph Needleman and North Carolina’s Effort to Prosecute Lynch Mob Participants During the 1920s,” Southern Jewish History (Vol.13, 2010), and “Washed Down in Blood: Murder on the Schooner Harry A. Berwind,” North Carolina Historical Review, (January 2014). A Historically Black College and University (HBCU) advocate, his new book, New Life for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (2012) identifies the challenges that HBCUs face and identifies models of success to ensure that HBCUs continue to play an important role in the education of Americans of all races.

Newkirk formerly served as Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Professor of History at Alabama A&M University. Other positions held include: Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Associate Professor of History, Fort Valley State University; Academic Dean/Chief Academic Office, and Professor of History, Andrew College; and Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness at North Carolina Wesleyan College.

Dedicated to his community, Newkirk has served as a member of Barber-Scotia College’s Board of Trustees; the Buck Leonard Foundation; and as national President of the Barber-Scotia College Alumni Association. He holds memberships in a number of academic and professional groups, including the American Historical Association (AHA), Traditionally Black Colleges and Universities Institutional Research Association (TBCU), the Alabama Council of Graduate Deans, and the Council of Historically Black Graduate Schools.

In April 2005, Newkirk received the Distinguished Alumni Award, from the National Organization of Equal Opportunity, in recognition of exemplary experiences that honor his alma mater. He was also recognized by Rust College in 2013 for his work in improving access to graduate education. In 2006, he received the National Distinguished Service Award from the National Alumni Association of Barber-Scotia College for his efforts in saving the beleaguered school.

A native of Elizabethtown, North Carolina, Newkirk attended North Carolina A&T State University and earned an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Barber-Scotia College; a Masters of Arts degree in History from Winthrop University, Rock Hill, South Carolina; a Master of Science degree in Library Science from North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina; and the Doctorate of Philosophy in History from Howard University, Washington, D.C. Newkirk and his wife Marilyn, a public school administrator, are the parents of three – Vann , Casandra , and Richard .

Fisk University has stood the test of time. For more than a hundred and fifty years, the school has enabled students to pursue their futures and realize their dreams. We are confident that all of our alumni, friends and supporters will help us continue in our mission to positively change student lives and reach new heights.”