NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Michigan administrator H. James Williams was selected Wednesday to be the next president of Fisk University and said he's prepared to tackle the financial struggles of the historically black college.
Williams is dean of the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., and the founder of a consulting practice. He is to begin his duties Feb. 1.
"The Board made an inspired selection," P. Andrew Patterson, vice chairman of the board of trustees and chairman of the search committee, said in a statement from the university Wednesday night. "Dr. Williams has shown strong leadership, steadfast integrity and creativity in fundraising for scholarships, academic programs and buildings in partnership with corporate leaders, faculty and alumni."
Williams said he realizes he's in for a challenge.
"I understand that there have been some financial challenges," he said Wednesday. "And we know that's one of the things we have to try to address, and we'll do that."
The embattled university recently won a court fight concerning its modern art collection donated by painter Georgia O'Keeffe.
The courts have allowed the school to sell a 50 percent stake in the collection to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The financially strapped Fisk gets $30 million under the arrangement.
Fisk said the 101-piece collection donated by the late painter Georgia O'Keeffe, under the present plan, will be rotated every two years between the school and the museum. The collection will remain at Fisk through fall 2013 and then move to the museum.