Fisk University officials on Friday released a breakdown of how they intend to allocate the $30 million they will receive from Arkansas' Crystal Bridges Museum. Half will go to the school's endowment, while almost $6 million will settle accounts with the attorneys who have represented Fisk in recent years. Also in the mix is $5 million for strategic initiatives, one heck of a tool to help recruit a successor to President Hazel O'Leary, who is stepping down at the end of this year.
Blake Farmer was at the Tennessee Court of Appeals Tuesday listening to proceedings in the Fisk University Stieglitz collection case. The judges and the Attorney General's Office are sympathetic to the school's financial woes, he said, but that won't get Fisk President Hazel O'Leary very far.
Senior Counsel Janet Kleinfelter from the Attorney General’s office says she has compassion for Fisk’s situation but the state is concerned about a chilling effect on philanthropy. “We could back down, but the consequences of that for future charitable giving for the state of Tennessee are just tremendous. I mean, think about it.”
Fisk University and the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville have signed an agreement to offer their students a dual-degree program. Under the terms of the deal, math and science majors at Fisk will transfer to UT after three years and then spend two years taking engineering courses.
“At Fisk, 26 percent of our students major in life and physical science, computer sciences, and mathematics,” O’Leary said. “The Fisk/University of Tennessee dual-degree program will offer more options for our talented students to earn multi-disciplinary degrees and become professional leaders.”