FSU Chancellor Darrell T. Allison
Executive leader and strategic visionary
Darrell T. Allison is the 12th chancellor and chief executive officer of Fayetteville State University (FSU), the second oldest public institution in the University of North Carolina System. Throughout his tenure at FSU, Chancellor Allison’s visionary leadership has catalyzed widespread institutional renewal, yielding unprecedented success in these core areas: academic progress, economic empowerment and development; major funding acquisition and fundraising; service to military-affiliated students; and athletic competition. His tangible impact at FSU has caught the attention of state influencers, earning him a spot in Business North Carolina’s “Power List” in Education for two consecutive years, in 2022 and 2023.
Anchored in student academic success
A champion of educational opportunity, Chancellor Allison has worked intensively to improve college affordability and access, and to maximize student success. He secured FSU’s participation in the NC Promise Tuition Plan to subsidize the cost of tuition for all enrolled students. In 2021 and 2022, he used COVID relief funding totaling $3.2 million to clear student debt amassed during the pandemic, targeting student retention. Additionally, the University’s 30-60-90 Free Summer School program, now in its 3rd year, continues to optimize on-time graduation and has helped boost FSU’s retention numbers considerably. In 2023, nearly 66 percent of FSU students - 4,270 students - participated in the summer school program. Overall, Chancellor Allison’s vision for higher education leadership and his prodigious work ethic have coalesced to dramatically improve FSU’s viability and sustainability. Student enrollment, any university’s most visible metric, offers proof of impact. Most recently, FSU welcomed nearly 7,000 students, with the largest first-year class enrollment in recent years and boosting its freshmen retention by 14% since 2020 (78%).
Economic empowerment and development
From his earliest days at FSU, Chancellor Allison has cast an expansive and aspirational vision for the university’s role in fostering regional economic empowerment and development. This vision has inspired the creation of vital partnerships and targeted investment in the local economy. Just months after arriving at FSU, Chancellor Allison negotiated the $5 million debt-free acquisition of Bronco Midtown, a former shopping mall that is now the site of the Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional Entrepreneur and Business Hub. A partnership between FSU, the City of Fayetteville, and Cumberland County, the “HUB” now operates as an engine for regional economic growth, providing free services to local entrepreneurs and small business owners. Its capacity to spur economic development has led to FSU’s participation as a partner in the Anchor Institutions Create Economic Resilience, or AICER, program—created by NC Growth, a national economic development center at UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition to supporting local entrepreneurship and small business development, Chancellor Allison has pushed to bring flagship restaurant brands to the university and region. In Fall 2022, FSU broke ground on a new Chick-fil-A restaurant at Bronco Midtown as well as a Starbucks on campus, providing new employment and revenue opportunities.
Major capital expansion projects, funding acquisition, and fundraising
Prior to Chancellor Allison’s arrival, FSU ranked near the bottom among UNC System institutions in state appropriations revenue as well as equipment and capital expenditures; in fundraising, FSU ranked last. Chancellor Allison has altered those trajectories in fundamental ways, pursuing an ambitious approach to major funding acquisition and fundraising that has been historic in its impact. In 2021, he secured a $164 million state budget appropriation, FSU’s largest allocation in over 35 years. State dollars are being deployed in a multi-year effort to upgrade infrastructure and programs, funding a new College of Education building, a Health & Wellness Center, a residential hall, parking deck, and numerous campus enhancements and renovations.
Chancellor Allison has raised over $10 million in private philanthropic support within his first two years, and set a single year fundraising record, yielding nearly $8 million in gifts and donations to FSU. That year, FSU received its largest single private gift in the institution’s history: a $5.8 million grant from the Anonymous Trust that targets student retention, graduation, and other programs. Other major funding acquisitions include a $4.9 million federal grant to improve regional broadband utilization; a $1 million investment from the U.S. Agency for International Development for student internships and professional development; a $750,000 gift to create a new ethics institute; and a $580,000 grant from the Cumberland Community Foundation to augment scholarship programs and ease the college transition for local FSU students. In 2023, FSU secured its first grant from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust – a $600,000 award that will support campus and community performing and visual arts education initiatives, student scholarships, and local cultural arts opportunities.
FSU’s duty to our military-affiliated students
Utilizing a highly targeted approach to student outreach and support, Chancellor Allison has substantially broadened FSU’s impact with military-affiliated students. Along the way, he has garnered national accolades. FSU recently earned recognition as the top “Best for Vets” college among all four-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), based on Military Times’ annual ranking. The Military Order of the Purple Heart has also designated FSU a “Purple Heart University” in recognition of the institution’s support of veterans and their families. FSU is the first UNC System institution to receive this honor. FSU also earned the 2023-24 Military Friendly School silver ranking. Recently, FSU released a report done by Evocati naming the university as the largest HBCU in the nation for military-affiliated student enrollment.
At Chancellor Allison’s direction, FSU has expanded access, services, and programming for military-affiliated students. The university recently launched a program to provide free tuition to all military-affiliated students, awarding scholarships to over 450 students in the program’s initial two years. In another demonstration of FSU’s commitment to our military families, Chancellor Allison secured a $10 million appropriation in the state budget to renovate and construct a new, full-service academic support center for military-affiliated students that provides study, meeting, and event space, and houses two ROTC detachments as well as FSU’s Department of Military Affairs.
FSU’s innovation and commitment are resonating with this student population as the university marked its largest enrollment ever of military-affiliated students for the second consecutive year. FSU is proud to serve more than 30% military-affiliated students, making the institution the highest by percentage of military affiliated enrolled students in the UNC System, and FSU has tapped top talent to advise on innovative military programming, appointing four-star General (Ret.) Michael X. Garrett as the military executive-in-residence in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
As the keynote speaker for FSU’s 2023 Spring Commencement, Chancellor Allison secured U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin our nation’s first ever African American to hold such a post.
FSU Athletics is the home of champions
As a Division II university, FSU has experienced an impressive degree of success in intercollegiate athletic competition. In Chancellor Allison’s 30-month tenure, the university has secured 12 CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) championships in both men’s and women’s athletics: women’s indoor and outdoor track, men’s golf, women’s bowling, football, men’s and women’s cross country, women’s indoor and outdoor track, men’s basketball and women’s volleyball.
FSU 2022 and Beyond
Under Chancellor Allison’s leadership, the university rolled out the FSU Strategic Plan 2022-2027: Ready for Tomorrow. This blueprint for success captures five major priorities and metrics that will fulfill its promise to help all students, faculty, and staff achieve goals and advance the university’s mission. Simultaneously, the university underwent an intensive process to invest in its Campus Master Plan and introduced a 10-year (2023-2033) design that focuses on the enhancing academic spaces and study areas, outdoor features like walking paths and greenways, and additional resources that connect the university with the surrounding community.