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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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

#EngagementMatters. Thanks to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, I was honored to do 4 book talks in Flint last week. Pictured here are Black School, Community & Corporate leaders who are doing awesome work!

Calling all Alumni Relations directors! All grads and prior students should be on your mailing list whether they’re paid members of the alumni association or not. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Calling all HBCU leaders! Demographic shifts are occurring and your institution must be prepared to compete head on with PWIs. Scholarships must be more competitive & the quality of student life must be more consistent. Are you ready to compete?

Calling all HBCU alums! If we love our alma mater as much as we profess we must be willing to do at least 3 things: 1)invest in them financially; 2) encourage academically prepared to enroll; and 3) share content expertise that can strengthen curricula offerings.

#LeadershipMatters. Congressman #ElijahCummings was a servant-leader in the best sense of what it means to serve people authentically and unreservedly. May he Rest In Peace!

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