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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Charlie Nelms Named to Inaugural Board of The Doug Williams Center for the Study of Race and Politics in Sports

The Doug Williams Center for the Study of Race and Politics in Sports will engage domestic and global conversations on race and politics in sports aimed at helping to identify, analyze, and develop feasible solutions. The Center will leverage the expertise of an advisory board that will include academic leaders, athletes, politicians, and activists.
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Navigating the COVID-19 Landscape:
Strategies for Mature Citizens

by Charlie Nelms
Like many mature and retired citizens, a year ago I was making plans for using some of the funds I had squirreled away for visiting places on my bucket list, and for escaping the predictably cold winters in the Midwest where I live. Little did I know that my plans would not only be put on hold, but that they might be completely abandoned, due to the devastating effects of the coronavirus sweeping the world. While listening to health experts, several things quickly became clear.
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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

Join host Monica Flippin Wynn for Transformative Conversations - HBCU’s – Adjusting to the New Normal. with
@CharlieNelms @almosley2002
@donaldpalm3 & Dr. Lawerence Potter Wed. Sep 30 at 2 ET #HBCUWeek. https://jngi.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Lk9xslcrQqqbzJyDkLZz6Q

Mentoring Matters! Yesterday, the last of my original UAPB mentors, Dr. Juanita Torrence, Prof of English, passed away. In 1966 she gifted me a copy of The Perrian-Smith Handbook of Current English—which I still have. She nurtured my dreams & challenged me to embrace excellence.

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Read Charlie’s article in

Strengthening Governance at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Follow Charlie on Twitter