August 15 , 2005

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President Hazel R. O'Leary Honored by Urban League

President Hazel R. O'Leary shares a moment with some Fisk students.

Fisk University President Hazel R. O' Leary was one of three outstanding educators who received the National Urban League's 2005 Legend Award on July 30 in Washington D.C.'s Convention Center. The award was presented at the Whitney M. Young Jr. Gala during the League's Annual Conference.  The Legend Award recognizes trailblazers for lifetime achievement, leadership, and pioneering efforts in the struggle for equality and human rights.

Previous recipients of the award include Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; civil rights leader Dorothy Height; and the Honorable Mary Frances Berry, former chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

O'Leary, rose to national prominence by being the first African American and woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of Energy. In that post, she managed 20,000 employees and an annual $21 billion budget.  During her tenure, O'Leary provided the leadership necessary to end nuclear testing in the United States and gain support for nuclear weapons reform internationally with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996. Under her fiscal management, the agency also saved taxpayers $10 billion in operating costs according to the General Accounting Office.  She is the longest serving Secretary of Energy in the history of the Cabinet.

 Mrs. O'Leary's management skills were garnered through 25 years of experience in energy and environmental policy and large project development. She served as President of the natural gas subsidiary of Northern States Power, a diversified utility holding company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Prior to that, she held the office of Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs.

Through all of her experiences, O'Leary has remained an advocate and supporter of Fisk University. When the call for greater service to her alma mater went out, O'Leary responded by becoming the fourteenth president of the university on August 16th, 2004.

With the slogan of "Dare to be Great", O'Leary has reached out, not only to the students, faculty and staff of Fisk University, but to Nashville's broader community. She has promoted initiatives like Fisk's Leadership and Ethics Institute as well as programs that attract young women and people of color to the sciences.  One of her greatest priorities has been the effort to raise scholarship and internship support for Fisk students.

Under her leadership, Fisk University has remained among the top twenty historically black colleges and universities in the nation. Fisk's alumni represent 43 states within the U.S. and over 10 countries. In proportion to enrollment, a greater percentage of Fisk graduates achieve PhD's than the minority graduates of any other U.S. college or university. Among currently practicing African American physicians, lawyers and dentists, one in six is a Fisk graduate.

Applications to the university are up nearly 300% since O'Leary was hired and students continue to be engaged in service learning projects as well as new internships with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

"No one is more deserving of recognition for their service and leadership," said Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League.

Established in 1910, the National Urban League is the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to the economic and social empowerment of African Americans. There are more than 100 local affiliates in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Affiliates provide services to more than two million people nationwide through a variety of social programs, advocacy and research.


Copyright 2005 Fisk University