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Prestigious HBCU Fisk University Welcomes Its Largest Freshman Class In Four Decades

Prestigious HBCU Fisk University Welcomes Its Largest Freshman Class In Four Decades

They’ve almost doubled enrollment in just 4 years!

Prestigious HBCU Fisk University has welcomed its largest freshman class in four decades, Revolt reports. 

Fisk University is a private historically Black college and university (HBCU) located in Nashville, Tennessee. Ranked number 6 among HBCUs by U.S. News and World, it is the oldest collegiate institution in the city of Nashville. Fisk is known for its academic scholarship and rigor, boasting an impressive resume of famous alumni including internationally renowned activist and sociologist, W.E.B. Du Bois, the late civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman, John Lewis, and beloved poet Nikki Giovanni


The University is also known for its world-famous Jubilee Singers, first established in 1871 when a group of traveling students, many of them formerly enslaved, set about to perform in an effort to raise money to keep the school open. Today, the Grammy award-winning group performs annually at the University’s convocation and is booked regularly for special events. Their most recent performances took place at The National Museum of African American Music’s (NMAAM) Rhapsody & Rhythm Awards and Carnegie Hall this past March.


More than 150 years since its opening, Fisk continues to thrive; it was rated number one among the country’s top academic institutions last year by Forbes, who noted the college’s “impressive effectiveness in achieving exceptional outcomes despite limited resources.” 

“Fisk has been incredibly effective at delivering and communicating amazing student outcomes and, by extension, an extraordinary return on investment. Many of these unprecedented outcomes are the result of a concerted effort to invest in leadership and professional development programming,” Fisk University Executive Vice President, Jens Frederiksen, shared.

Despite its high academic performance, the University struggles to maintain its affordability due to the number of applicants not getting accepted because of financial constraints. 

Sheila Smith, the associate vice president for enrollment management at Fisk, spoke about the conundrum: “This year, we turned away too many students whose future should have begun at Fisk, but the financials simply did not compute.” 

Still the Nashville HBCU nearly doubled their enrollment numbers in just four years and welcomed its largest freshman class in more than 40 years. In 2017, student enrollment rested at only 630 students. However, there are more than 1,050 students enrolled at Fisk with a little less than 400 incoming students this fall. The class of 2022 hails from more than 33 states and five countries with nearly 60% of their first-year students being Pell grant-eligible, according to a press release

While attending a private school comes with its set of challenges, Fisk maintains a disproportionately high scholarship ratio with nearly no endowment spending. Incoming test scores have also increased from the 54th to the 71st percentile over the last four years, an impressive feat given the steadily declining national average for ACT scores.

Despite the challenges, students still believe Fisk is the best choice for them and they are excited to be a part of such a robust legacy institution. Incoming freshman, Jeremiah Armstead, for example, is a native of Long Beach, California. He was homeless for the majority of his high school years but, thanks to the recruitment efforts of Fisk, he now can look forward to a bright future at the HBCU. 

“The support I now have in Nashville is outstanding and for a young college student with a story such as myself, I wouldn't get through most obstacles without outstanding support,” said Armstead. 

That support includes unique corporate partners forged by Fisk, such as HCA Healthcare, The Los Angeles Lakers, Google, etc. Many of the partnerships offer reverse engineered schoolwork for students that helps them prepare for the real world and train them to compete at the highest levels. Some courses include coding, risk management, and data analytics. Earlier this year, the University also announced the creation of an Intercollegiate Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team, making history as the first HBCU to offer women’s gymnastics. The team recently held their first practice.

“Fisk University has always been an educational leader and the women's gymnastics program will embody all the qualities that define the Fisk experience: excellence, determination, and a commitment to a better tomorrow,” said the president of Fisk University, Dr. Vann Newkirk.

Perks like that are hard to come by, but a good reason why many students still flock to Fisk despite high tuition. Morgan Price, a Fisk gymnastics team member, said it was the full package that made her choose the HBCU over others. 

“I had many options, but Fisk had it all. The academics are very strong, the partnership with Meharry is intriguing, and most of all gymnastics! Fisk also really cares a lot about leadership, organization, and internships. All those things excite me because they will help me succeed after college,” said Price. 

Fisk plans to continue this upward trend with a mission of enrolling 1,600-1,800 students within the next four years. 

HBCU Fisk University welcomes the largest freshman class in four decades. Photo Courtesy of Fisk University/Instagram