About Charlie Nelms

Charlie Nelms, a native of the Arkansas Delta, has devoted his life to equalizing opportunities for disenfranchised peoples. He is currently a senior scholar at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and a senior consultant for the Association of Governing Boards, specializing in HBCU governance and leadership, as well as retired Chancellor, North Carolina Central University, and IU Vice President for Institutional Development and Student Affairs Emeritus. In 2019, Charlie was awarded an honorary doctorate from Indiana University. Proceeds from his book From Cotton Fields to University Leadership: All Eyes on Charlie, A Memoir will help fund scholarships to historically Black colleges and universities across the nation.
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New Book Club Chooses Nelms Book as Inaugural Title

The Millennium Leadership Initiative has chosen Charlie’s From Cotton Fields to University Leadership: All Eyes on Charlie – A Memoir as the first book in their new Book Club.
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Honoring John Lewis

It’s not Enough to Celebrate

Say Their Names

Charlie Nelms speaking at the George Floyd Rally at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana

Speaker and Story Teller

A captivating orator, Charlie possesses the ability to connect with audiences from all walks of life. Through his storytelling, he helps audiences to see beyond what is, so they can imagine what is possible when transcending their own immediate interests.

What can you expect from a Charlie Nelms speech?

A thought-provoking, passionately delivered speech on an array of contemporary topics, for audiences that transcend generational boundaries, socio-economic status, ethnicity or professional affiliations. As a university leader who has devoted his life to working to level the playing field for historically disenfranchised people, Charlie challenges his audiences to become more assertive agents of change for excellence, equity and inclusion in all dimensions of life.
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Books by Charlie Nelms


From Cotton Fields to University Leadership: All Eyes on Charlie
“Charlie Nelms tells his riveting story from share croppers’ son in rural Arkansas to university president. His memoir is a testament to the power of aspiration, character and education to overcome poverty and adversity. “
— Michael L. Lomax,
President & CEO, United Negro College Fund (UNCF)


Having My Say: Reflections of a Black Baby Boomer
From a national leader in higher education diversity and equity comes a timely collection of compelling reflections on giving, leading, changing, and advancing.


Charlie on Twitter

Many mature adults, me included, are challenged by the unknown effects of COVID19 & must find ways to successfully cope. Coming soon are my suggestions for doing so.

Calling all aspiring leaders! On your leadership journey the quality of your decisions should supersede the speed with which you make them. Yet, they should be timely—not timeless....

Kudos to #GardnerInstitute for its #TransformativeConversations series that’s featuring students today. I encourage administrators and faculty to listen and hear what students have to say. Student views and voices always matter—especially during the era of COVID19.

Calling all aspiring leaders! On your leadership journey don't forget to remember the importance of having people you can lean on. The late Bill Withers wrote & recorded "Lean on Me" nearly 50 years ago, and the words are just as relevant today as they were then.

Calling all aspiring leaders! On your leadership journey never take family and friends who love you for WHO you are for granted. Never get too busy to take a call or attend your children’s events, family gatherings, class reunions, etc. You are because of them.....

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Read Charlie’s article in

Strengthening Governance at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Follow Charlie on Twitter