Hazel R. O’Leary, president of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, since 2004, has announced that she will step down at the end of 2012. President O’Leary is staying on through the end of the year through the university’s annual audit and to complete a monitoring report with the university’s accrediting agency. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed Fisk on warning status in 2010 over concerns about the university’s financial health. During President O’Leary’s tenure, the university has been engaged in a long legal battle to sell or lend part of its art collection to raise money to bolster the institution’s finances.
President O’Leary is a 1959 graduate of Fisk University. She earned a law degree at Rutgers University. During the Clinton administration, O’Leary was the first woman and the first African American to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy.