Published: Aug 01, 2012 06:51 PM
Modified: Aug 01, 2012 06:52 PM
DURHAM - Days after the surprise retirement announcement by N.C. Central University Chancellor Charlie Nelms, campus trustees met behind closed doors with UNC President Tom Ross Tuesday to discuss a personnel matter.
Media were notified about four hours prior to the meeting at NCCU. The closed-door portion lasted roughly 45 minutes, before reporters were allowed inside.
Ross then introduced his pick for interim chancellor, Charles Becton, a lawyer, law professor and former N.C. Court of Appeals judge. The UNC president also discussed the process for identifying the university’s next permanent leader.
After the meeting, Ross said he could not discuss the personnel matter publicly. When asked whether it had anything to do with Nelms, he said, “in part, yes,” but would not elaborate.
Nelms was not at the meeting. His retirement is effective Aug. 6, but Ross said Nelms would be around until the end of the month to help with the leadership transition. On Monday, Nelms cancelled a planned conversation with the media, issuing a statement instead that he wanted to shift the discussion away from his retirement to the arrival of Becton and moving NCCU forward.
Nelms shocked NCCU Thursday with the news that he would step down almost immediately, weeks before the start of a new academic year. The abrupt announcement was unusual; typically, university leaders will announce their departure with several months’ notice.
But Ross said Nelms, 65, had always planned to serve five years. The president complimented Nelms, who raised academic standards during his time. “He added greatly to the university,” Ross said. “This institution is headed in the right direction and doing a lot of things right, and we owe Charlie Nelms a great deal for steering it for the last five years.”
Top leaders on campus said Nelms met with them the morning of his announcement and told them he was ready for a break.
“The timing of the decision is within the mind and heart of the individual making the decision,” Ross said Tuesday. “And I think, you never know what goes into it. I think he felt like it was a good time, and I have to trust his judgment about that.”
When asked whether there was any kind of investigation or scandal looming on the campus, Ross said, simply, “I’m not in a position to talk about personnel issues.”
Trustee chairman Dr. Dwight Perry said he hoped to have a search committee named in the next two or three weeks. The process of finding the next chancellor could take five to six months, he said.
Ross said it could take longer, perhaps the end of the academic year or next summer, before a new leader is place. He said he had great confidence in Becton, the interim chancellor, who he said had “great leadership skills.”
Becton spent part of Tuesday with Nelms. He said he felt great about his new role and called NCCU “a gem” of a university. He said he would meet with the media in the near future for a more in-depth discussion.ECU chancellor on list for Albany job