Nelms Joins Board of National Universities Group

Charlie Nelms, chancellor of North Carolina Central University, has been elected to a one-year term on the board of directors of the American Association of State Colleges & Universities. Nelms was named to the board at the group’s annual meeting Nov. 22 in Charleston, S.C.

The AASCU is a Washington-based organization representing more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems. Its member institutions share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic and cultural development.

Nelms has led North Carolina Central University since 2007. During that time, despite a challenging budget climate, he has intensified the university’s emphasis on student success, setting ambitious goals for student retention and increased graduation rates. In both 2009 and 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked NCCU as the best public historically black college or university (HBCU) in the country.

Before coming to NCCU, Nelms served as vice president for Institutional Development and Student Affairs for the Indiana University system. He was also a chancellor twice before. In 1987, Nelms began a seven-year tenure as chancellor of Indiana University East, and in 1994 he was named chancellor of the University of Michigan at Flint (UMF). There, he resolved a significant campus budget deficit, reversed a four-year enrollment decline and secured more than $75 million in private gifts to UMF.

At NCCU, Nelms has reorganized the University College to provide intensive academic support and skills training for underprepared freshmen and sophomores, and he has instituted two programs to improve retention and graduate rates for African-American males.

He also has placed research and graduate education under the leadership of a vice chancellor for graduate education and research to better manage the university’s growing research sector. In 2009, two grants of $5 million each went to the College of Science and Technology for the Computational Center for Fundamental and Applied Science and the NASA Center for Aerospace Device Research and Education. And in October, NCCU was awarded the largest sponsored-research grant in its history, $7 million from the National Cancer Institute. The award was part of an $11.9 million Comprehensive Minority Institution Cancer Center Partnership Grant shared by NCCU and UNC-Chapel Hill and its UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In the 2009-10 academic year, Nelms presided over a yearlong celebration of NCCU’s centennial. Among the highlights was a symposium focusing on the future of historically black colleges and universities, which brought together national education leaders, including U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Active in professional, civic, and higher education organizations, Nelms served on the Board of Governors for the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and the National Advisory Board of the National Survey of Student Engagement, and served as chair of the American Council on Education Commission for Leadership Development. Currently, he is a member of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Board of Trustees.

Nelms is a native of Crawfordsville, Ark., and earned his undergraduate degree in agronomy and chemistry at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, graduating in 1968. He later earned a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs (1971) and a doctorate in higher education administration (1977) from Indiana University. Early in his career, he taught and held administrative positions at Earlham College in Indiana, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Indiana University Northwest in Gary and Sinclair Community College in Ohio.