Barely six months after the end of the Civil War, and just two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, three men — John Ogden, the Reverend Erastus Milo Cravath, and the Reverend Edward P. Smith — established the Fisk School in Nashville, named in honor of General Clinton B. Fisk of the Tennessee Freedmen's Bureau, who provided the new institution with facilities in former Union Army barracks near the present site of Nashville's Union Station. In these facilities Fisk convened its first classes on January 9, 1866. The first students ranged in age from seven to seventy, but shared common experiences of slavery and poverty — and an extraordinary thirst for learning.
In 1954, Fisk became the first, private, black college accredited for its music programs by the National Association of Schools of Music. Today, Fisk also holds memberships in the American Association of Schools of Music, the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Its department of chemistry is on the approved list of the American Chemical Society. Fisk is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States and is approved for teacher certification purposes by the State of Tennessee Department of Education.
Today, Fisk is recognized nationally for its ability to produce young leaders. Specifically, Fisk has received multiple awards for our traditional capacity to put students, many of whom are the first generation of their families to enroll in higher education, on the pathway to academic success. In the last three academic years, Fisk has been recognized for its success in graduating students by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Princeton Review’s Best 368 Colleges, US News & World Report, and Washington Monthly. The consistent theme throughout those accolades is that Fisk excels among all liberal arts schools in the nation in terms of research, service learning opportunities and its work to aid the social mobility of 1st generation college students.