Fisk chief says fiscal woes are near end
Date: 22 Feb 2008 | | Views: 3339
Source: The Tenesean (www.tennessean.com), by Jonathan Marx
Fisk University President Hazel O'Leary told a judge Wednesday that the school is ready and able to fund renovations to its Carl Van Vechten Gallery, which has housed the school's Alfred Stieglitz Collection of modern art.
The testimony came in a trial before Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle to determine the fate of that famed art collection, donated to the school by painter Georgia O'Keeffe, Stieglitz's widow, in 1949.
The Santa Fe, N.M.-based Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, which represents O'Keeffe's estate, has petitioned the court for the right to assume possession of the collection, based on its argument that Fisk has violated the conditions of O'Keeffe's donation by failing to keep the collection on display.
Since November 2005, the collection has been in storage at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts while the gallery undergoes renovations. The first phase of renovations was completed last year, but then the school ran out of money.
In her testimony on Wednesday, O'Leary reversed statements she made late last year that Fisk was in danger of running out of operating funds. A challenge grant issued in December by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided Fisk with $1 million outright and the promise of $2 million more if the school can raise $4 million by June 30.
O'Leary said that if the school is able to keep pace with its current fundraising efforts, it will remain solvent.
"We have invested time, energy and resources into developing our advancement staff … and Fisk's position is that it is receiving an extraordinary infusion of cash." Some of those funds, she said, would be used to complete renovations on the Van Vechten Gallery.