Updated: May 12, 2021
This piece was curated by the News editor of The Voice Student Newspaper, Victoria Walker, and myself during the protests of Chancellor Allison. Photos by Charles Carter,
While Fayetteville State University’s new chancellor-elect is scheduled to take office on March 15, a lot of students, faculty, and alumni are questioning whether he is the one. With no experience in teaching or administration, many people are calling into question the validity of how Mr. Darrell Allison was chosen, especially as he was not on the list of finalists from the chancellor’s search committee, according to NC Policy Watch.
As of the time of print, a student march was scheduled for March 5, called by SGA President Sydney Harris. In her letter calling for the march, President Harris stated the reason for the march was “to clarify our position as it relates to HBCU’s within the UNC system.” President Harris also noted the lack of sufficient student input in the chancellor decision.
Chancellor-Elect Allison responded to news of the march through and email stating: “Fayetteville State University supports the right of students to express their views through marches and other forms of peaceful gatherings, and I plan to work closely with the student leaders to understand and address their concerns. The University will also host a series of Town Halls for students, faculty, and staff, during the week of March 15.”
Former chancellors of the university have come forward to give their viewpoints questioning the selection of Mr. Allison. Former FSU Chancellor Willis Mcleod told WRAL: “To me, what’s at issue is how he got the job and the fact that it doesn’t appear that the process that had been outlined and published was indeed followed.”
Fayetteville Observer contributor Daron Davis pointed out how Mr. Allison is not qualified to be chancellor including “holding a law degree [and] being an experienced lobbyist,” which are not standards that uniquely qualify him to be chancellor.
Mr. Allison’s responded to WTVD: “The initials Ph.D. are important, but what FSU needs right now are the letters l-e-a-d-e-r. I’m a leader with strong leadership.”
But Mr. Allison’s response has led to even more outrage.
A junior at FSU who wished to remain anonymous stated “How is he going to talk about our leadership when we have had an interim chancellor [Dr. Peggy Valentine], more than qualified for the job [than he is], handling her position of leadership wonderfully? Is a campus running smoothly during COVID really lacking leadership because me and my friends think not?”
This is not the only thing the new chancellor-elect is facing. As of today, more than 2,000 signatures are on a petition calling for the removal of the chancellor-elect before he takes office.
There also are potential risks involved with Chancellor-Elect Darrell Allison taking office. According to FSU’s Faculty Senate Chairman, Dr. Chet Dilday, the federal money used to fund FSU’s accreditation could be lost due to the recent appointment.
“We don’t need this type of thing happening with all the economic uncertainty,” Dr. Dilday expressed.
In response to Dr. Dilday’s concerns on accreditation, Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications Jeffery Womble said:
“The search and selection process for the new Chancellor at Fayetteville State University was in accordance with the policy established by the UNC Board of Governors on chancellor searches and adheres to the principles and rules of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, therefore, we do not consider our accreditation or access to funding to be at risk and expect to be fully reaccredited next year.”
In his interview with Fayetteville Observer columnist Myron B. Pitts, Mr. Allison discussed diverse topics including the “Silent Sam” controversy, voting for a controversial deal between the Board of Governors and the Sons of Confederate Veterans on the removal of the confederate monument on University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s campus. Mr. Allison chose to go with the “not-so-good option” of “providing some compensation to the group so that we could rid ourselves of this issue forever.” When asked if his decision was based on the premise of gaining the chancellor position, Mr. Allison said: “Absolutely not. …Never would I do such a thing.”
There were questions regarding whether his mother-in-law, Brenda Timberlake, who is a member of the FSU Board of Trustees, was involved in the selection process. FSU responded mentioning that Timberlake “did not take any role in the chancellor selection process. Allison mentioned that she “followed the letter of the law to the nth degree”
Many are waiting to see how this story will unfold. The question remains: Is the chancellor-elect going to be able to take office as FSU’s next chancellor?