In his first interview interview since being appointed Chancellor of Fayetteville State University, Darrell Allison said criticism has been “hurtful” but did not directly answer questions about the controversial process by which he was appointed.
In an interview with ABC-11 Allison, a former member of the UNC Board of Governors whose appointment has been opposed by students, faculty and alumni, said he has heard from “so many more that’s not so loud” supporting him. That includes faculty, students and staff, Allison said.
As Policy Watch reported last week, members of FSU’s board of trustees and UNC System sources close to the process said Allison did not make the initial cut for candidates to be submitted to the UNC System President. He was added last-minute in a move he and the trustees have not been willing to discuss publicly and ultimately chosen for the position over candidates with more education and experience.
“The initials Ph.D are important,” Allison told ABC-11. “But for what Fayetteville State University needs right now, the letters are l-e-a-d-e-r. I’m a leader and I bring good, strong leadership.”
Allison is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and UNC-Chapel Hill’s law school. He has no previous experience teaching or in administration at the university level. He has worked as a lobbyist for K-12 charter schools and as served as a political appointee on the board of trustees of NCCU and on the board of governors.
On Wednesday the Raleigh-Apex NAACP joined the FSU faculty and the school’s national alumni association in opposing Allison’s appointment.
“Even though I didn’t attend Fayetteville State, I did attend Lincoln University in Jefferson City and I’m a member of the Lincoln alumni association and I sympathize with the Fayetteville alumni association.” said Gerald D. Givens Jr., president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP. “Most HBCU executives bring years of experience in higher education. They will have demonstrated their capacity to leverage relationships with previous HBCU presidents, governments, industries and leaders to address some of the challenges facing many HBCUs collectively, such as growth in enrollment, student achievement, fundraising, affordability and financial stability.”
Givens questioned whether the controversy over Allison’s appointment could even endanger the school’s accreditation, noting that in 2019, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), sent a letter to the University of South Carolina requesting more information about its search for a new president because of allegations that Governor Henry McMaster was pressuring board members to vote for General Robert Caslen. The same association is responsible for FSU’s reaccreditation.
Allison’s first day as FSU chancellor is March 15.