Dr. James Anderson genuinely understands the mindset of frustrated youth who find themselves incarcerated rather than getting an education. Growing up an orphan on the tough streets ofWashington,D.C., Anderson worked diligently to achieve academically, refusing to fall victimto the allure of drugs and violence that stole the lives of somany around him.
As the new chancellor at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, Anderson is committed to getting more minority students, particularly young Black and Latino males, off the road of underachievement and on a path to success.
“I was one of those youngmales.Mymother gaveme up at birth. I don’t know whomy father is,” says Anderson, adding that consistent mentorship is key. “The first 10 years of my life, I was pretty much on the streets, but people took an interest in me. They made sure I did well in school [and] made sure I had clothes.We need moremales to step forward and spend timewith youth.”
Formerly the vice provost and vice president at the University at Albany-State University of NewYork,Anderson comes to FSU during a tumultuous time in the institution’s 141-year history.
FSU’s premier program, nursing, came under fire last year when just seven of its 32 students graduated. As a result, the North Carolina State Board of Nursing placed the programon probation, giving the school one year to bring the programinto compliance with state standards. Furthermore, plagued by financial troubles, FSU reports some of the lowest student retention and graduation rates in theUNCsystem.
Where others see problems,Anderson sees promise. The nursing school tops the list of Anderson’s priorities. “Fayetteville has many excellent programs. It also has some programs that have not moved far enough, fast enough,”Anderson says.
“The nursing programis already seeing improvements.”
Anderson began his careermore than 30 years ago at Xavier University of New Orleans as a professor of psychology. Then, starting in 1992, he served for 11 years as vice provost for undergraduate affairs atNorth Carolina StateUniversity.And in 2003,Andersonwas recruited to Texas A&M University as vice president and associate provost for institutional assessment and diversity.He served in this role until joining theUniversity atAlbany in 2005.
“I began my career at a historically Black institution. I wanted to wind my career down at a historically Black institution. I also wanted to come back to the state of North Carolina. It all worked out,”Anderson says.
As the new chancellor, Anderson aims to mold FSU into a highperforming institution of choice by raising its academic reputation. Historically, says Anderson, HBCUs have had presidents and chancellors who tried to enhance their schools’ image while letting academics suffer.
“When you build your academic reputation, that builds your institutional image, not the other way around,”he says.
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