Flack retiring after 26 years of service

After serving Ram Nation for more than 20 years Dr. Sylvia Flack announced her retirement earlier last month. Flack currently serves as executive director of the WSSU Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Health Disparities.

Flack retiring after 26 years of service
May 05
06:40 2016

Photo by Tevin Stinson



When Dr. Sylvia Flack agreed to return to her alma mater, Winston-Salem State University, in 1989 as dean of health sciences, she had only planned to stay one year. Earlier this month, more than 25 years later, Flack officially announced her retirement from WSSU.

According to Flack, she was persuaded by former Chancellor Dr. Cleon Thompson and others during a visit to the campus. Flack said at that time she also had an offer in West Virginia as CEO of a community college.

Flack noted she was leaning toward taking the position in W.Va., but it was her son who helped her make the decision to choose WSSU.

“My son said’Let’s go to Winston-Salem,’ and I’ve been here ever since,” she said.

As the founding dean of the School of Health Sciences, Flack helped revitalize WSSU’s nursing program which was headed toward closure when she arrived. When she took over the position, UNC Board of Governors and N.C. legislators had already agreed that the nursing program should close.

Not only did she end talks of closure, Flack’s efforts as dean from 1989 to 2005 helped progress the nursing program to become one of the best in the nation based on excellence in education, research, and public service.

Flack said she couldn’t have done it without the students, faculty and other staff members she worked with during her time at WSSU. She also served as special assistant to the chancellor.

“Some of the most brilliant, creative people are right here at Winston-Salem State,” said Flack. “The people I have worked with here are just amazing.”

Throughout her illustrious career, Flack has served on many committees, state and national boards and commissions in healthcare, public education, higher education and civic organizations. She also consults nationally with colleges and universities on educational programs and has served as a SACES visitor and a scientific reviewer for the United States Department of Education.

In 2006 Flack’s lifelong interest in helping to eliminate inequality in health care for minorities led her to  found the WSSU Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Health Disparities.

The center is designed to educate community stakeholders on the disparities in minority communities and help develop strategies to reduce and eliminate those disparities.

The program has served as a model for similar programs throughout the nation.

Flack said it is important that the people in Forsyth County understand that minority health disparities is a real issue.

“People have to know how significant it is,” she said. “I felt it was important that the university did its duty to involve the community.”

During a reception held at the Donald Reaves Center last Thursday, a number of Flack’s colleagues, former students and members of the community thanked her for her hard work and dedication in the form of kind words and gifts.

Mayor Allen Joines read a proclamation marking the celebration and thanking Flack for her many contributions to WSSU and the City of Winston-Salem. Chancellor Elwood Robinson said the imprint Flack has left on the university is something they will always cherish.

“We need more visionaries like Sylvia Flack,” said Robinson. “As we move toward the future, she has already given us a glimpse at what being a visionary is all about.”

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