Most recently, Nelms served as chancellor of North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, N.C., from 2007 to 2012. During his tenure, Nelms intensified the university’s emphasis on student success, setting ambitious goals for increasing student retention and graduation rates. A few of his accomplishments included: raising the standards for undergraduate admissions and progression; guiding the establishment of the first and only Ph.D. program to be offered at NCCU in 50 years; initiating and completing a comprehensive academic program review, which led to the merging or discontinuation of more than a dozen academic programs; transitioning from NCAA Division II to Division I and membership in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference; and creating the Division of Research and Economic Development which assisted the university in receiving the largest sponsored research grants in the university’s history (more than $100 million flowing to NCCU researchers in five years). Under his leadership, U.S. News & World Report ranked NCCU as one of the best public HBCUs in the country for three consecutive years. In 2011, Nelms published, A Call to Action, a policy directive intended to spur a national dialogue concerning the revitalization of the historically black colleges and universities as an important sector of American higher education.