After serving as interim chancellor for a year at N.C. A&T, Hackley was named last week to serve in the same position at Fayetteville State University. This after Chancellor T.J. Bryan resigned under pressure due to concerns about the school’s nursing program and financial condition.
Media reports following Bryan’s resignation indicate that UNC President Erskine Bowles asked for her resignation in a meeting in Chapel Hill.
The decision to name Hackley to the post was an easy one for Bowles to make. First, Hackley is a former chancellor at Fayetteville State University, having served from 1988 to 1994. Secondly, Hackley has shown his willingness to take on difficult situations. A N.C. A&T campus audit released earlier this year that found more than $500,000 of misused federal grants and other issues.
“As he proved time and time again during his recent tenure as chancellor on an interim basis at North Carolina A&T, Vic tackles every challenge handled to him with full commitment, great passion, and absolute integrity,” Bowles said when announcing the appointment. “I can think of no one who is better qualified to lead [Fayetteville State] during this time of transition, and I am grateful that Vic has accepted this new assignment.”
However, this assignment could prove to be more daunting than was N.C. A&T.
First, Hackley must address concerns regarding the school’s nursing program, perhaps the final straw that led to Bryan’s resignation.
During the spring semester, 24 of 31 students enrolled in the school’s nursing program failed to graduate after failing a required exit exam. Several students complained, saying they did not understand that passing the test was required to graduate. A compromise was reached to avoid a possible lawsuit; the students were allowed to take a 12-day course with a consultant.
The students received similar results in the second test, as 15 of 23 students who took the course failed the final exam.
The state Board of Nursing has delayed giving approval to the nursing program until the problems can be worked out. In delaying approval, the board claimed school officials failed to comply with rules that are geared towards helping students understand standards and graduation requirements.
If that wasn’t enough for Hackley, he also inherits an institution that has been mired in financial problems for years. Auditors found problems within the school throughout Bryan’s tenure as chancellor. Consultants were brought in to help improve the school’s audit situation; recently, however, according to the Fayetteville Observer, documents could not be found concerning student accounts and cash on hand.
That led to the resignation of the school’s chief finance administrator, Latonya Hawkins.
Bryan made no mention of the school’s problems in her resignation, saying, “I am stepping down as Chancellor so that the university may pursue its core mission of educating students.”
Hackley’s main obstacle will be to make any necessary changes to the school’s financial administration and nursing program to prepare for the next chancellor (one, it is hoped, with a solid administrative background). Hackley was able to do that for new N.C. A&T Chancellor Stanley Battle by uncovering financial problems that few if any truly knew about before the audit report earlier this year.
If Hackley’s work at N.C. A&T is a true indication, whoever is named chancellor at Fayetteville State University will likely find the institution in a better situation than it is today.