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LU's president headed to Tennessee college

by Bob Watson | March 23, 2017 at 8:20 p.m. | Updated March 24, 2017 at 8:24 p.m.
Lincoln University President Kevin Rome

Lincoln University President Kevin Rome is the new, 16th president of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee - which also is a historically black college (HBCU) that, like Lincoln, was founded in 1866.

Both schools announced Thursday Rome will start working at Fisk on July 1, after working at LU through June 30.

In an email to LU's faculty, staff and students, Rome said: "While I have held other leadership roles previously, Lincoln University is my first presidency.

"That alone would make my four years here memorable, but the bond runs much deeper than that. We may not have always agreed - no family does - but we have done our best to prevent disgrace as we have fought for this wonderful institution."

In a separate statement, the LU Curators board said it "appreciates Dr. Rome's service as the 19th President of Lincoln University and wishes him well in his future endeavors. A search committee and transition team will be appointed as soon as possible."

Faculty Senate Chair Bryan Salmons - who has had some public disagreements with Rome's administration - told the News Tribune on Thursday: "We wish Dr. Rome continued success in his career and his life. Being president of a university is a very serious and exacting job.

"I learned many years ago that no one's job is as easy as pundits would have you believe.

"So when someone steps down after a respectable amount of time in a job, please tip your cap and thank that person."

Fisk's Board of Trustees also confirmed Rome's hiring Thursday afternoon, noting Rome was hired after a nearly "eight-month process that involved engagement forums with alumni clubs in multiple states, on-campus faculty and staff forums, and communications with key stakeholders of the (Fisk) University community."

In a news release, Barbara Bowles, chair of Fisk's Trustees, said: "Fisk was looking for a transformational leader who would be able to shape our future and accelerate our growth as a leader in the Liberal Arts and Stem disciplines.

"We believe that Dr. Kevin Rome is that person."

Fisk Trustee Cynthia McIntyre chaired the search committee and explained in the Fisk news release: "Dr. Rome's achievements in partnering Lincoln University with the local community included new academic and civic programs as well as capital development projects.

"His accomplishments at Lincoln bode well for increasing Fisk's partnering with the greater Nashville Community."

Rome - a Morehouse College graduate who later served as that school's vice president for Student Services - came to Jefferson City in June 2013.

He previously had been vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at North Carolina Central University, Durham, since 2008.

His tenure at Lincoln has included efforts to grow the number of students attending the school from around the country and to expand educational connections with universities in other countries.

But his tenure also has been marred by controversies surrounding communications with the faculty, the de-activation and re-activation of the history degree program - including the termination of two, tenured history professors at the end of this school year - and the faculty's no confidence vote in Said Sewell, LU's now-former provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

In the Fisk news release, Rome said: "Our nation's HBCUs are facing an interesting chapter in history, and I am certain Fisk will see its story of academic excellence, diversity and integrity expand over the next 150 years.

"It will be my pleasure to work alongside the entire Fisk University family as we continue to cultivate scholars and leaders one by one."

No timeline was announced Thursday for naming an interim LU president.

Lincoln's curators are scheduled to meet April 20 but could schedule an earlier meeting or conference call, if necessary.


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