Office Hours with John Gardner

Charlie Nelms challenges Higher Education to change the system; not the students. In his recent memoir “From Cotton Fields to University”, this episode of office hours traces his journey from most inauspicious beginnings to being in a position where many in American higher education call on him for his wisdom, practical good judgment, and hope. Every listener can relate to this innovator’s universal knowledge.

Charlie Nelms, President-in-Residence, United Negro College Fund

Dr. Charlie Nelms is a transformational servant-leader, a motivational speaker, and a consultant with expertise in higher education. He has more than 40 years of experience and leadership in student access, retention, and graduation; institutional effectiveness; and strategic planning.

The former chancellor of universities in North Carolina, Indiana, and Michigan, Nelms serves as a board member for leading educational associations and foundations across the U.S., including the C.S. Mott Foundation. He is currently a senior scholar at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, specializing in providing assistance to minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and Senior Advisor to the United Negro College Fund. In addition to serving as an executive coach, he has been a consultant to nearly 100 colleges and universities and education-related organizations.

Nelms is the recipient of numerous awards for his accomplishments in higher education, including two honorary doctorates and fellowships from the American Council on Education and the Ford Foundation. In 2012, President Obama honored him with the MLK Drum Major for Service Award for helping to address the most pressing needs in our communities and nation. He is a founding member of the Millennium Leadership Initiative, and vice president and professor emeritus at Indiana University. Nelms founded the Destination Graduation Initiative, which aims to increase retention and graduation rates at HBCUs, and in 2011, he published A Call to Action, a policy directive intended to spur a national dialogue concerning the revitalization of HBCUs.

Nelms earned a B.S. degree and a master’s of education degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and an Ed.D. from Indiana University. He is a blogger for the Huffington Post and HBCU Lifestyle, he tweets, and is a frequent guest on podcasts and radio talk shows around the nation.