In a surprise announcement, NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms will retire from his position effective next week after serving five years at the helm of the historically black institution.
"It's a sad day on the campus of North Carolina Central," said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Kevin Rome, who Nelms hired away from Morehouse not long after arriving in Durham.
"But I would tell anyone that North Carolina Central has been around for 100 years and done well, and it will continue to do well because of many people who work there and the students that attend."
Rome said the announcement did catch most everyone off-guard. He said Nelms told him that he'd been working since he was 5 years old and now, about to turn 66, it's time to relax.
"I think he feels really good about the work that he's done," Rome said. "North Carolina Central is a better place than he found it. Too often people wait to the point when they need to be forced out. Why not go out on top? Of course, I'm very sad. I'm not disappointed because I think he's contributed a great deal, so I can't be disappointed if he decides to step away."
Asked if it would have been better for the school if Nelms had given more notice, Rome said, "Obviously I think that would have been better. But I'm one who believes everything happens for a reason. I know he's wise enough to know why he made the decision he made. I think he feels good about it."
An interim chancellor will be appointed by University of North Carolina General Administration. Rome indicated he would like to be considered to replace Nelms full-time.
The university released highlights of Nelms’ accomplishments, including:
· Developing and implementing a campus-wide Quality Service Initiative (QSI), which has received national recognition from the College and University Personnel Association;
· Raising admission requirements and academic progression standards;
· Strengthening infrastructure with particular attention to financial controls, technology, campus aesthetics and residential life;
· Increasing online course offerings by 50 percent;
· Establishing the University’s first Ph.D. program in more than 50 years; the Ph.D. degree in Integrated Biosciences will enroll its first cohort this fall;
· Transitioning the institution from Division II to Division I in athletics;
· Overseeing the institution while it was rated the number one public HBCU for two consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report;
· Constructing a new residence hall, the Nursing building and a parking deck;
· Reaffirming the University’s accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools;
· Obtaining membership in the American Association of Law Schools;
· Receiving record funding in support of Science, Math and Technology (STEM) initiatives;
· Establishing the University College to place increased emphasis of student retention and academic success;
· Creating the Centennial Scholars Program aimed to increase African American male retention;
· Establishing the Division of Research and Economic Development; and
· Managing a comprehensive academic program review and restructuring.
He also had to shepherd the school through severe state budget cuts.
More on this later today.