Fisk University Hopes To Stay Off Accreditation Watch List

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Officials of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools were at Fisk University this week as the private, historically Black school seeks re-accreditation.

The association will decide in December whether to place Fisk on its watch list after noting that the Nashville university has failed to meet standards for financial resources and stability, qualified administrative and academic officers, control of resources, and its responsibilities under federal student aid programs.

President Hazel O’Leary said the university isn’t pleased that its enrollment slipped to 550 students this academic year, according to The Tennessean. However, O’Leary said 92 percent of students who entered Fisk last year are back.

The U.S. Department of Education defines accreditation as assurance that a college’s education meets quality benchmarks. Universities and colleges that are not accredited cannot participate in federal student loan programs.

Earlier this year, Lambuth University in Jackson closed after losing its accreditation. Its enrollment was 455 last fall.

Fisk recently has been involved in a court battle to sell a 50 percent stake in its $73 million art collection to an Arkansas museum. Artist Georgia O’Keeffe donated the collection of her husband to the university five decades ago. The issue is still in the courts.

O’Leary, U.S. energy secretary in the Clinton administration, said donations to Fisk were $4.6 million last year, up from $3.1 million a year earlier.