The University Record, January 28, 1998

Nelms to head diversity, retention efforts at Indiana


From Donna L. Ullrich, U-M-Flint, and
DeAnna J. Hines, Indiana University

Charlie Nelms, chancellor at U-M-Flint since 1994, has been appointed assistant to the president at Indiana University, with responsibilities focusing on the areas of diversity and undergraduate retention. Nelms told President Lee C. Bollinger early last week that he intends to retire as chancellor July 31.

Nelms said the decision comes after careful consideration, discussions with his family and 11 years of success as chancellor of two excellent universities. He said it was time to pursue other opportunities. Nelms came to the Flint campus from Indiana University at Richmond, which he served as chancellor for seven years.

In his letter to Bollinger, Nelms said he intends to remain "fully engaged in the life of the campus for the next seven months and will do all that I can to ensure a smooth transition." "Chancellor Nelms has done an exemplary job of leading the Flint campus," said Bollinger. "He is a talented, tireless leader who cares deeply about the welfare of our students, faculty and staff. He has worked hard to strengthen our ties to the Flint community and the state of Michigan. I am extremely disappointed that he has chosen to step down at this time, but I respect his decision. I can only hope that our search for a new chancellor leads us to find a person of Chancellor Nelms' caliber."

In announcing the appointment Jan. 22, Indiana University President Myles Brand said that Nelms' post "is one that I have wanted to create for a long time because IU must not merely succeed at, but be a national leader in the areas of diversity and student attainment. It was critical that we identify the right person, and Charlie Nelms fills this role most appropriately.

"He is a national leader on issues of university administration, with a particular interest in diversity. But his agenda is not limited to issues of diversity, but includes academic success of undergraduate students in general."

Nelms said the IU appointment "is a wonderful opportunity to return to a nationally renowned institution which I respect and admire. I have spent more than half of my professional career at Indiana. This position affords me the opportunity to work with the eight campuses to increase the degree attainment rate of students and to help the university respond more effectively to the educational needs of underrepresented groups."

Nelms initially will be based in Indianapolis working with community groups to enhance recruitment of students from diverse backgrounds and build bridges between the community and the campus that are appropriate to an urban campus. He will begin his tenure in August, but will serve as a consultant starting Feb. 1.

While chancellor at Flint, Nelms focused on improving the quality of academic programs and services, increasing the University's responsiveness to students' needs and expanding the University's outreach efforts.

Since his arrival, the University has expanded the scholarship program; opened instructional centers in Port Huron, Owosso, Lapeer, Fenton and Pontiac; added new master's degrees in education, nursing and health administration; expanded service hours to accommodate students' work-family-school schedules; enhanced support services to increase students' academic success; and added outreach activities to provide students with field experiences in the community and to provide businesses and non-profit agencies with technical assistance that draws on the University's expertise and resources. In addition, he has secured more than $50 million in gifts, grants and lands for the University.

Other highlights of his tenure include the transfer of the AutoWorld property to the University in December and the recent approval of a new School of Health and Human Services.

Nelms' career in education spans nearly three decades and includes involvement as a commissioner with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, as chair of the American Council on Education Leadership Commission, as founder of the Indiana Youth Institute and as a member of the board of editors of the Negro Educational Review.

In Flint, he has served as a member of the Genesee Area Focus Council, Hurley Hospital Cancer Center Advisory Board and Mott Children's Health Center Board. He is a frequent speaker at youth, education and religious functions throughout the Midwest.

Bollinger expects to announce plans for a search for Nelms' successor in the near future.