Applications To Fisk University Nearly Doubled In Single Year

Several Fisk recruiters have been moved away from the historic campus and into cities where they're tasked with finding potential students: Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, DC. The school has also focused more attention on reaching out to Hispanic students. Credit Joseph A via Flickr

Several Fisk recruiters have been moved away from the historic campus and into cities where they’re tasked with finding potential students: Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, DC. The school has also focused more attention on reaching out to Hispanic students. Credit Joseph A via Flickr

Interest in attending Nashville’s Fisk University is the highest it’s been in a dozen years. This year, roughly 5,500 students applied, compared to not quite 3,000 last year. That’s especially good news, given that the last decade at the historically black college was marked by financial crisis and rapid declines in enrollment.

It took layoffs, furloughs, a new president and a lot of fundraising, but the school is finally in the black. The danger of losing accreditation is over. So now, the last step in Fisk’s recovery is pushing enrollment back up. Currently, there are not quite 600 students on campus. It used to be closer to a thousand.

Recruitment Director Anthony Jones says his office changed its approach to target specific states, even certain schools, where Fisk might have the most appeal. They also got more alumni involved in talking to potential students.

So it really was a matter of us just getting smarter about where we ought to be going and being more articulate about who we are. And be very, very aggressive about sharing that message.”

Jones admits not having to field questions about financial problems has been a big help.

Looking forward, the university hopes to grow to 12-hundred traditional students by 2018, plus several hundred more taking classes online.

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