Fisk University announced today the single largest gift from a Nashville family since Fisk’s inception in 1866. The $2.5 million gift from Amy and Frank Garrison will be utilized for both the establishment of an Endowed Chair in recognition of Diane Nash at Fisk’s John Lewis Center for Social Justice as well as an endowed scholarship fund. Dr. Nash, a former Fisk student, was a leader in the student wing of the Civil Rights Movement and played a prominent role in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins.
The Endowed Chair is for the Director of the John Lewis Center and will be named The Diane Nash – Descendants of the Emancipation Chair. “We could not be more excited about this extraordinarily generous gift and we are grateful that Dr. Nash has allowed the University to name this historic Chair in her honor”, said Fisk President Vann Newkirk. According to Dr. Nash: “this is the first and only endowed chair with my name and I am so pleased to have it at my alma mater. This is such an honor and it belongs not only to me, but also to the thousands of people who participated in the freedom movement with me”.
“Fisk’s extraordinary contributions to the fabric of American life are well documented and today’s students are eager to continue in the footsteps of those legendary leaders, like Diane Nash and John Lewis, who helped shape a better future and set lasting examples of courage and purpose for all of us” said Frank Garrison. Amy Garrison added “Fisk is such an important asset to our ever-changing city and we wanted to recognize that; Fisk is so deserving of city-wide support and we are very happy to be in a position to lend ours”.
Fisk is uniquely poised to provide insight and leadership and this gift will allow the University to recruit a national scholar and innovator. The Director will be essential in repositioning Fisk at the center of the national conversations around race relations and social justice. According to Executive Vice President Jens Frederiksen: “Fisk students, the University’s partners and the broader community are all looking for thoughtful and focused programming, inquiry and discussion around social justice.
With this remarkable gift and the endowed Director role, Fisk will be able to address this need for the next 155 years and we are beyond grateful to Amy and Frank Garrison for their vision and support.”
Fisk has experienced a major upswing over the past five years with enrollment growth and significant increases in the academic profile of the incoming classes. The accrediting body SACSCOC recently lauded Fisk for running a sustainable, viable and scalable institution of higher learning and the future has never looked brighter.