As chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, I am fortunate to interact with various groups and entities. My fellow commissioners and I hear their needs, requests and complaints. The broader scope of the board and my position requires thoughtful planning to keep our county running smoothly, but more important to encourage sustainability and growth. When viewed from a wide, encyclopedic lens, the individual and collective needs are more commonly aligned than not, resulting in a mutual and consistent refrain: serve the needs of residents while remaining fiscally responsible.
Over the course of my tenure, it has become apparent that Fayetteville State University (FSU) is more than a friend to the city of Fayetteville and Cumberland County; the university is a partner and driver of revitalization, economic stimulation and community engagement. This is no accident, but the result of great leadership and strong relationships.
In 2021, Darrell T. Allison assumed the role of chancellor of Fayetteville State University. The impact was immediate and profound. Chancellor Allison embarked on a strategic year-long plan of action to bolster stakeholder and community engagement to benefit the university and the broader Sandhills region. Chancellor Allison’s solid campus planning, undergirded by integrative and collaborative community development, has brought this region unprecedented expansion and growth.
Although a current member of the FSU board of trustees, I am not blinded by association. The facts and results speak for themselves.
Under Chancellor Allison’s brief tenure, Fayetteville State University recorded its largest enrollment in 20 years, with a total matriculation of 6,787 students. Those students are not only part of the campus community; they are contributing citizens of Cumberland County. As a leader within the community, I believe I can speak for the collective that we wholeheartedly embrace and support them as well as Allison’s plan for continued growth.
Just days ago, I was proud to participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening for the Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional Entrepreneur and Business Hub. In addition to serving as a central point for business resources and development as well as experiential learning for students, it is an outstanding example of academia driving economic progress and growth. The Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional Entrepreneur and Business Hub is one of a kind. In addition to collaboration with various partners, establishing this HUB required a vision and a visionary. Chancellor Allison has delivered on both ends. We anticipate new and expanded businesses, newfound business leaders and workforce expansion. This circle of partnership will certainly precipitate future collaboration and economic stimulation.
Fayetteville State University proper is growing and expanding by leaps and bounds. Bottom line: expansion requires deliberate funding. Within his first year, Allision led the university to a $175 million state budget appropriation and raised nearly $8 million in private philanthropic support from key stakeholders. As a university trustee, I understand the significance and sheer magnitude of these historic amounts. This funding will bolster and sustain institutional infrastructure upgrades, repairs, renovations and new construction.
Under Allison’s long-range plan, the campus will realize new residence halls, a parking deck, new academic buildings and other improvements. His plan provides added value to campus and the community. It’s no secret that construction and similar projects drive workforce expansion, particularly within minority and underserved communities. We can see the residual effects of the physical growth taking place at FSU throughout the community, including along Murchison Road.
By proxy, FSU is a community-leading entity. Chancellor Allison has energized our citizenry and proven his intention: when one area excels, we all excel. This is an exciting time for the university as well as the city of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the entire Sandhills region. I’m proud to be chairman of the FSU board of trustees and I’m also thrilled to be engaging with Chancellor Allison and the university as a collaborator and partner through the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.
On behalf of the board of trustees and the Board of Commissioners, I congratulate Chancellor Allison as he is officially installed as the 12th chancellor of Fayetteville State University, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. I encourage the community to join us and support his strong and proven leadership and vision. Let’s endeavor to strengthen our resolve to work together for the common goal of elevating the profile of our community and proliferation of the university as a beacon of opportunity throughout the community.
Glenn Adams is chairman of the Fayetteville State University board of trustees and the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.