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Fisk Appeal of Stieglitz Collection Decision “Could Take Years”

Fisk President Hazel O’Leary at a June 27 event to celebrate the university’s raising over $8.3 million in the past fiscal year

Whatever happened to Fisk University’s Apr. 3 appeal of Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle‘s decision rejecting the school’s plan to sell a half-share of its celebrated Stieglitz Collection to Alice Walton for $30 million?

According to Colby Sledge‘s June 30 article in the Tennessean, “a final decision [in the appeal could take years to obtain.”

Good thing, then, that “donations more than doubled from last year, when the school looked like it might run out of operating funds.” The newspaper quotes Fisk president Hazel O’Leary (above) saying:

We needed to change Fisk into the business that it ought to be; that
has been accomplished. All of that is about
improving and trying to overcome a lingering reputation that Fisk can’t
manage its money.

Better late than never. The university has just met a fundraising deadline to raise $4 million in order to qualify for the final
installment of a $2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. And the good news for art lovers is that Fisk is now “renovating the Carl Van Vechten Gallery, where the
Stieglitz collection will be redisplayed on Oct. 6—with an
accompanying fundraising gala—after years of storage in the Frist

The administration and trustees should now resolve to continue raising money the old-fashioned way and drop the Stieglitz Collection lawsuit, in order to save the money from legal fees for years of possibly useless wrangling in the Tennessee Court of Appeals. After all, who’s to say Alice Walton will still want to shell over her $30 million by the time this protracted case is finally resolved?

I have some questions pending with Fisk’s attorney, C. Michael Norton, about the status of the appeal and why it might take so long to resolve. I’ll update here if I receive a reply.

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