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Charlie Nelms, Ed.D.
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Most recently, Nelms served as chancellor of North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, N.C., from 2007 to 2012. During his tenure, Nelms intensified the university’s emphasis on student success, setting ambitious goals for increasing student retention and graduation rates. A few of his accomplishments included: raising the standards for undergraduate admissions and progression; guiding the establishment of the first and only Ph.D. program to be offered at NCCU in 50 years; initiating and completing a comprehensive academic program review, which led to the merging or discontinuation of more than a dozen academic programs; transitioning from NCAA Division II to Division I and membership in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference; and creating the Division of Research and Economic Development which assisted the university in receiving the largest sponsored research grants in the university’s history (more than $100 million flowing to NCCU researchers in five years). Under his leadership, U.S. News & World Report ranked NCCU as one of the best public HBCUs in the country for three consecutive years. In 2011, Nelms published, A Call to Action, a policy directive intended to spur a national dialogue concerning the revitalization of the historically black colleges and universities as an important sector of American higher education.

Entries by Charlie Nelms, Ed.D.

Ensuring HBCU Success with Baby Boomer Energy, Expertise & Passion

(0) Comments | Posted May 24, 2016 | 11:00 AM

The future of historically black colleges, or HBCUs, is a topic never far from my thoughts. After all, it was an HBCU that provided educational access to me and thousands of other blacks at a time in America when racial segregation was the law of the land and strictly enforced...

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A Change of Season

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2016 | 8:17 PM

Throughout the ages, spring has been celebrated as a time of renewal and new life. In the city I call home, between bouts of rain and the occasional frost, daffodils, crocuses, and tulip magnolias are back in bloom. This spring, as we find ourselves surrounded by vitriolic rhetoric in our...

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Collaboration vs. Competition

(0) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 9:38 PM

In the wake of the Super Bowl, an annual ritual celebrating athletic prowess, I've been reflecting on the role of competition in our colleges and universities. While we can all revel in the glitz and glory of the Big Game, competition also has its limits as a model for education....

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

(0) Comments | Posted December 14, 2015 | 1:54 PM

With Thanksgiving over, it's time to write my holiday letter. This year, I'm trying something different. As we approach the annual season of gift giving in America, I've been reflecting on the most meaningful gift I ever gave and received. Equally important, now that I'm retired and in the senior...

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Equity Matters

(4) Comments | Posted November 20, 2015 | 9:42 AM

As someone who served as one of the first vice presidents for diversity at a multi-campus institution of higher education, I am not surprised by the recent wave of student protests on campuses across the country and student leadership in the Black Lives Matter movement. In fact, I am pleased...

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An Open Letter to the Candidates for the Presidency of the United States of America

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2015 | 1:46 PM

Dear Candidates,

First, let me commend you on your pursuit of the presidency of the USA. As the leader of the free world, America, under your leadership, has one of its most important roles ever to play. To address the challenges we face as a nation demands...

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How Viable are Historically Black Colleges and Universities?

(5) Comments | Posted May 5, 2015 | 5:14 PM

With increasing frequency, when people in my friendship circle discover that I am a retired HBCU chancellor, they want to know three things. First, since white colleges and universities no longer have racially restrictive admission policies, are HBCUs still necessary? Second, given the vast array of higher education options available...

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Advocating for HBCUs

(0) Comments | Posted March 2, 2015 | 11:09 AM

Several blog postings ago, I promised to share my thoughts about what I believe HBCU alumni can do to support their alma mater. As we enter 2015, a year filled with unlimited possibilities, today seems like an excellent time to discuss how we can support in a more comprehensive manner...

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Ebola: Reflections of a Black Parent

(0) Comments | Posted November 4, 2014 | 11:03 AM

Italy, Zambia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Dubai, Switzerland, India, Sweden, Croatia, Spain, Australia, Niger, Central Africa Republic, U.S.A., UK, Thailand and Egypt are just a sampling of the many countries in which our 35-year-old son, Rashad, has found himself over the past decade. Like our parents, my spouse...

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An Open Letter to HBCU Graduates

(32) Comments | Posted October 16, 2014 | 7:10 PM

Dear HBCU graduates,

Although most of us have never met, we share a special bond as graduates of one of America's historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). With few exceptions, these are the places that sprouted from sweat-soaked seeds planted by the sons and daughters of former slaves, sharecroppers and...

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Six Critical Strategies for Increasing HBCU Retention and Graduation Rates

(1) Comments | Posted September 26, 2014 | 6:07 PM

The task that gave me the greatest level of satisfaction at the three institutions where I had the privilege of serving as chancellor was the opportunity to present nearly 12,000 graduates with their degrees. From Indiana University East to University of Michigan Flint to North Carolina Central University, no matter...

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The Reflections of a Black Father

(10) Comments | Posted August 15, 2014 | 1:46 PM

The shooting death of eighteen year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday, August 9, 2014, is tragic but not new. Far too frequently, black and brown men have their lives snuffed out by over-aggressive police personnel who seemingly construct scenarios after the fact to justify their use of...

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The 10 Most Essential Attributes of an HBCU Trustee

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2014 | 8:08 AM

Throughout my career in higher education, I had the privilege of serving as a trustee or director of numerous national, regional and local boards. These included higher education associations, banks, foundations, think tanks, economic development entities, youth-serving organizations and school boards, among others. Even in retirement, I have the opportunity...

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HBCU Student Success Summit

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2014 | 4:15 PM

Since retiring from active university leadership I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the future of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and advocating on their behalf. Over the past eighteen months, I've crisscrossed the country making speeches, appearing on radio talk shows, conducting workshops, participating in think-tank...

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(0) Comments | Posted June 24, 2014 | 2:43 PM

With each passing day I appreciate the passion and persistence of my late father, a subsistence farmer by day, trying to provide for his family, and a rural community-organizer by night, working tirelessly and dangerously to register sharecroppers and day-laborers to vote. When told by a wealthy white farmer, who...

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Thinking Beyond the Box

(5) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 1:47 PM

Those of us who are staunch advocates of HBCUs must not allow our support to impede a critical, yet objective analysis of what these institutions must do to become more competitive and responsive. If we are truly concerned about the long-term sustainability of the HBCU sector we must be willing...

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HBCUs: Over-Governed and Under-Led

(2) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 1:18 PM

Invariably, when I meet new people they ask me what I do professionally. When I tell them that I am a retired three-time university chancellor, they respond by indicating how impressed they are by the fact that I served in such a capacity not one, but three times. They quickly...

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The Art of Budget Cutting

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 11:42 AM

Among the things I liked least during my three chancellorships was cutting the university's budget. Yet, it was an activity to which my colleagues and I devoted countless hours. My dislike of budget cutting stemmed primarily from the fact that there were few "good options," and that one's decisions always...

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Choosing the Right College

(0) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 9:58 AM

Selecting the right college is one of the most important decisions a student will ever make. Yet, it is a decision which is often driven by a set of variables that may have little to do with the appropriateness of the institution for a particular student. With the advent of...

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Five Strategies for Increasing Enrollment at HBCUs

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2014 | 12:53 PM

As we commence 2014, college admissions and FAFSA application deadlines are rapidly approaching. Of course, we know that many open-admissions, online and non-selective institutions often accept applications and admit students up until the day before classes start. In fact, some even take students well into the semester. Research suggests, however,...

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