FRANK LESTER SIMS: AN EXEMPLARY HOMEBOY

IMG_2309 (2016_04_27 19_41_59 UTC) IMG_2307 (2016_04_27 19_41_59 UTC) BARKIE

Frank Lester Sims, “Chunk” as he is known to many is the interim President of Fisk University. A 1968 honor graduate of E. E. Butler High School, he sang tenor in the chorus, played French horn in the band, and was a founding member of the Esquires Social Club. He attended Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas where he earned a B. A. degree in Business Administration with honors in 1972. With a strong recommendation from Mr. Charles Morrow, former guidance counselor at Fair Street and Butler High Schools, Frank was hired by Cargill, Inc. in Minnetonka, Minnesota in 1972. He worked at Cargill for 36 years where he rose to be President of the company’s North American Grain Business. In this position, Frank managed a six billion (6,000,000,000.00) dollar budget and the oversight of 5,000 employees. He also served as Corporate Vice President of Transportation and Product Assurance at Cargill as well as Platform Leader. Retirement did not slow Frank down as he served as Interim Chief Executive Officer of PolyMet Mining Company and held Board positions at Ault, Inc., South Jersey Industries, Inc., Tenant Company, Piper Jaffray Companies, Minnesota Public Radio and chaired the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Frank served on the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and was a member of the Chicago Board of Trade. He has also found time in what is clearly a demanding schedule to serve on the boards of the United Theological Seminary in Minnesota, PACT, Inc. in Washington, DC, and the Forum for Theological Exploration in Atlanta.

Frank was a member of the Fisk University Board of Trustees when he was asked to serve as the Interim President of this prominent institution of higher education in September 2015. With the oversight and support of the American Missionary Association, Fisk opened for the liberal arts education of young men and women in 1866. Over the past 150 years, the University has graduated many notable leaders, including the Honorable John Lewis, Scholar David Levering Lewis, and Poet Nikki Giovanni. But its most acclaimed graduates are William Edward Burghardt (W. E. B.) Du Bois, Class of 1888, and John Hope Franklin, Class of 1935. One of only four traditionally African-American schools with chapters of the Phi Beta Kappa Society (Morehouse, Spelman and Howard being the others), Fisk continues to rank in the top ten of black colleges and universities. Shortly after he assumed the office of Interim President of Fisk, Frank said he would “spend most of his brief tenure focused on strengthening Fisk’s financial footing and streamlining administrative practices, leaving the academic programs, which he considers to be sturdy, in the hands of the provost and faculty.”

 

Frank has been married to Robyn Jefferson Sims for forty years; they are the parents of Bradford Jefferson Sims, Leigh-Kirstin Sims Ali, and Franklin Hunter Sims. His sister, Patricia “Pat” Martin lives in Jefferson, Georgia, with her husband Robert Martin; his “older” brother, Marcellus Barksdale, lives in Atlanta. They all remember and venerate their parents Frank and Mary Sims and the halcyon days they spent at 737 Emily Street in Newtown. Frank enjoys playing poker, deep water fishing, and spectator sports, especially football. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi (Boulé) Fraternities.