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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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

Calling all aspiring leaders! On your leadership journey—-irrespective of your ethnicity, memorize the words of the Negro National Anthem even if you sing them out of tune.

Please join us for this important Twitter chat led by @cieestudyabroad intern @nataliepassov!! It's going to be great & she has many special guests joining in the discussion #mentalhealth #wellness #selfcare #highereducation @SDPInstitute @CenterForMSIs @RutgersGSE @RutgersNB

#Savethechildren. If we don’t save the children, who will? Young victims of gun violence could be our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or neighbors.

As we commence the 1st full week of July, my heart aches for those who had family members senselessly killed in weekend shootings in ATL, Chicago, Greenville & other parts of the country—especially the 8 yr child in ATL. Those who refuse to talk are just as guilty as trigger ppl.

As we approach the 4th of July, the words of Langston Hughes in his epic poem, “I, Too” prompted me to share this video.

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Read Charlie’s article in

Strengthening Governance at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Follow Charlie on Twitter