Fisk University, plagued by leadership turnover in recent years, has lost three key members of its administration team, say sources close to developments at the struggling school. Shirley Q. Range, recruited by Fisk about this time a year ago as vice president for institutional development, resigned last Friday, effective immediately.
Range, a seasoned development professional, is credited with sparking Fisk’s most recent fundraising efforts. Meanwhile, Keith Chandler, Fisk director of admissions, has submitted his resignation, effective this month. Chandler, a Fisk alum and veteran of its admissions staff, reportedly told colleagues and friends he had no immediate plans. Also, Greg Bryant, the second person in a year to serve as chief spokesman for Fisk and embattled President Hazel O’Leary, was reported to have tendered his resignation.
Bryant, who succeeded Ken West, who resigned last fall after nearly five years as chief spokesman, did not respond to efforts to reach him. Word of this latest round of departures was not announced or disclosed by Fisk. It comes as the school is in the midst of trying to shore up its case with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the regional accreditation agency, for removing Fisk from “warning” status. Last December, SACS placed Fisk on “warning” status, raising questions about the historic school’s financial viability and long-term potential for survival. At its June meeting, SACS was not persuaded by new evidence presented by Fisk. The agency continued Fisk on “warning” status. With that decision, the agency issued an even longer list of concerns about Fisk’s financial controls, qualifications of its leadership, and long-term financial viability. Since that ruling, Fisk officials have been busy working on reports and other documents to buttress its argument for a clean bill of health. SACS is expected to consider the matter again in December at its regular winter meeting. As chief fundraiser second to President O’Leary, Range was a key member of the Fisk team addressing SACS’s concerns. “She had a really good grasp of best practices,” says a former colleague at Fisk, referring to Range’s work at the school. “Now, the person with the most experience in development has been there about three years,” says a colleague who requested anonymity. It could not be immediately determined who was taking the place of Range, Chandler or Bryant.
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